Sunday, October 28, 2012

A prayer for your troubles...

A scriptural prayer when you are facing troubles:

O great God of all comfort, You have comforted me in all my affliction (2 Corinthians 1:4). You have seen my affliction and known the distress of my soul (Psalm 31:7). You have wondrously shown Your steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city (Psalm 31:21). I thank You for Your presence with me in all my trouble.

When afflictions have abounded, Your comforts, Lord, have much more abounded (2 Corinthians 1:5). Thank You for being Immanuel, God with us.

I know that though for the moment all Your discipline seems painful rather than pleasant. Yet, later, Your discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness and proves to be for my good, that I might share Your holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11). Please give me the right attitude concerning Your discipline, Lord. Let me embrace it as good for my soul.

I have had reason to say that it was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes (Psalm 119:71). Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word (Psalm 119:67). Give me more and more the gift to learn from my afflictions so that I might obey You more, Lord.

I know that it has been but for a little while, and only when it was necessary, that I have been grieved by various trials. I beg You, Lord, that all these trials of my faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though I have not literally seen Him, I love Him; though I do not now see Him, yet I believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. I long to receive the outcome of my tested faith, the salvation of my soul (1 Peter 1:6-9).

Lord, may my trials never make me bitter; may they make me better. Behind what seems to be Your frowning providence, let me see Your smiling face. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Edited from Matthew Henry's Method of Prayer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The turbulence of transitions



This past weekend, Chad Allen and I took a few minutes and talked at the end of the weekend services about our transition. Chad said, "We talked a lot about the transition BEFORE the passing of the baton. It would feel weird not to talk about it AFTER the passing of the baton."

Chad asked me how I felt not that the transition has taken place. I said that while I basically feel great about the transition, it's probably too soon to tell how the transition is really impacting me personally. After the baton passing, Maryanne and I took a couple of weeks off. We spent a week celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary in Oak Island, NC. When we returned, I joined the leadership team at CVC as we've worked to clarify our mission, our passions (values), our strategy, our focus on making disciples, and our vision. I also have had 2 funerals to help lead for long-time members, Tina Stahl and Jeff Pellizzari. So, there is a sense in which I haven't really had the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and focus on the new job.

I asked Chad how he felt now that he's had the lead pastor role for a month. He said, "It's like drinking from a fire hydrant. The water tastes good, but it's coming really fast!" Rica, his wife, recently asked him how he felt and he told her, "Fine. Uh... I'm just running an entire church now!" Chad went on to say how privileged he was to be leading a great team and a great church.

So, CVC is in a season of change. We all handle change differently. Some CVCers are early adopters. They like to change the paint in their living rooms every 3 weeks or so! They were ready for the transition when it was announced. Maybe they are even ready now for the next new Lead Pastor! Some tend to embrace change more slowly. A few just don't like change much at all. Sadly, God has led some people - including a few staff - to leave CVC. And that fact makes us sad. But we, frankly, expected some people not to embrace the changes. Most CVCers are still working on making the adjustments while trying to process the changes.

I love the way Chad talked about the change. When we fly on a plane, we inevitably will run into some turbulence. The captain comes on the intercom and says, "We will be experiencing a little turbulence for the next few minutes. So, don't be alarmed. We will arrive at our destination on schedule." Chad, as our "captain" was letting the congregation know that, yes, we are experiencing turbulence. But that God is in control and that we are heading toward a great destination as a congregation. We will see God do great things as we invite people to new life in Christ.

I believe that the next season in the life of CVC is truly going to be amazing. Personally, I am very excited. We've been clear before, but we are becoming even more clear and more focused than ever on our mission, our passions, and our focus on making making more and better disciples. We are reorganizing for the next phase of ministry as a church.

Remember, Jesus says that He prunes us so we can bear more fruit (John 15). Pruning does hurt but it's good for the branches and a greater harvest. This is why we are excited and expectant. Pruning precedes more fruit.

I don't want to miss the next season in the life of CVC, the next 3-5 years!

If you are part of CVC, I hope you don't want to miss this next season, either. And if you are not a part of CVC, please pray for us.

Our honest request from CVCers is that you give these transitions a year or two. Don't decide what you think about the transition until you see the fruit of the transition. We believe you will see that although the changes and pruning were discomforting, they have resulted in great good for the cause of Christ, for the expansion of His kingdom throughout NE Ohio, and for the growth and health of CVC.

Join me in praying that the righteousness and fruitfulness of the next season of ministry will be greater than the previous seasons of ministry.

Question: What are your questions, concerns, and comments about the turbulence of transitions?
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

25 books for personal growth


It's tough for me to pick 25 books I would recommend for growing leaders to read. But this morning, I met with 3 growing, dynamic leaders and we talked about our yearning for learning.

I asked them for the list of books they have read that have greatly impacted their lives. And I shared my top 25. Here they are.

Admittedly, it's a list that looks different than it did several years ago. But this is my list for today. Enjoy!

25 Books for Personal Growth

Theology
1.  Knowing God by J.I. Packer
2. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
3. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper
4. Desiring God by John Piper
5. The Reason for God by Tim Keller
6. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Devotional 
1. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
2. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
3. The Calvary Road by Roy Hession
4. Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Discipleship

1. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
2. The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
3. The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg


Leadership
1. The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton
2. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
3. The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
4. Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels

Biography

1. George Muller of Bristol by Arthur T. Pierson
2. Shadow of the Almighty
by Elizabeth Elliot
3. Jonathon Edwards by Ian Murray
4. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Skills for ministry

1. Biblical Preaching by Hadden Robinson
2. Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley
3. 30 Days to Confident Leadership by Bob Biehl

Question: What books have greatly impacted your life?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How well are you loving?


The Love Chapter. It's I Corinthians 13. It describes one of our passions and values at CVC: Caring Community.

The Love Chapter is used at weddings a lot. It's read; we think, "That's nice;" then we move on. The passage is too often left un-personalized.

But today make it personal. Try putting your name in I Corinthians 13. Make it first person singular. Where the word "love" appears or where the word "it" appears, place your name.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."  


Did you make it fist person singular? Really? Try it again.

How did you measure up?

Personally, I don't always measure up so well. That means, I need Jesus.

We need Jesus to be our Pardon for our failure to love. And we need Jesus to be our Power for our success in love.

Help us, Jesus, to love like You. You are the way - the only way - to a more Caring Community. 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

4 ways to become more productive for Christ


My friends and colleagues are asking me how I'm doing now that I have transitioned out of the role of lead pastor at CVC and into the role of Founding Pastor and Pastor of Missional Living and Leadership Development.

It's an opportunity to live new! And I love that! Everyone; live new; everyday! That means me, too.

But there is a sense in which it's really too soon to tell how the transition is impacting me. Maryanne and I took a couple of weeks off. We spent a week in Oak Island, NC. When we returned I joined the leadership team at CVC as we've worked to clarify our mission, our passions (values), our strategy, our focus on making disciples, and our vision.

So, I haven't really had the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and focus on the new job.

But, generally, I feel very optimistic about the future.

It's true that I have less responsibility at CVC, but that doesn't mean that I have less opportunity.

I have just as much opportunity as ever. The world didn't shrink when I passed the baton of leadership. I still want to make disciples in our region, nation, and world. The world of lost people is growing larger. Fruit-bearers are needed more than ever. So, I believe I have to responsibility and opportunity to bear more fruit than ever before.  

Some might say that having a lower profile position at our church might make fruit-bearing less likely. But fruit-bearing isn't about my position, it's about my connection... to Christ.  

God has been speaking to me about how to bear more fruit. Jesus is the Vine, of course, and we are the branches (John 15).

More fruit is possible IF we...

1. ... increase the circumference of our connection to the Vine. We must connect to Christ more widely.

2. ... deepen the attachment into the heart of the Vine. We must connect to Christ more deeply.

3. ... limit the obstructions that keep the life of the Vine from flowing into the branch. We must connect to Christ more purely.

4. ... improve the consistency of our connection to the Vine. We must connect to Christ more constantly.

I truly believe that If God allows me to serve Him on this planet for another 25 years that the next 25 years can be even more fruitful than the last 25 years. It all depends on my connection to the Vine.

Never feel that your fruit-bearing is dependent on position. It's not. It's dependent on your connection.

Question: What else would you suggest that would increase the quality of our connection to the Vine?

Monday, October 08, 2012



Recently, I sent some encouragement in the direction of a friend in ministry, Mark Campo, who has recently taken a position as interim pastor of a church in Medina.

He's also attending seminary. And conversation about our transition at CVC was part of a seminary class discussion.

Below is what Mark wrote to me:

***

Hey Rick, thanks for the encouragement. I gave some props to you and Chad in one of my seminary classes this past week. The short version of the dialogue follows:

Initial question:


 "I like [Frank] Tillapaugh's principle that pastors can change leadership roles or even be demoted without actually leaving the church. (I don't know if I have ever seen this happen.) Do you think pastors will constantly be in tension if two are at the same church, when one personality is better at pioneeing and one that is a settler and cultivator? Or can they work together well to best serve the church... ?"

Mark's response:


 "We are actually watching this play out at the church where we attended and I did some consulting before moving to our current church. Rick Duncan is the founder and former senior pastor at Cuyahoga Valley Church... and has just "passed the baton" to Chad Allen. Rick is remaining on staff as the Missions Pastor (which definitely close to his heart). Rick is 55 [Thanks, Mark. Actually, I'm 59!], and not ready to retire. Chad is 40, and this is his first senior pastorate.


"Along with the elders, these guys have worked through a very intentional process that has happened over the past 1.5 years. They actually passed a baton a few weeks ago and honored the contributions that Rick and his wife Maryanne have made over the years.

"You can read all about it on Rick's blog... I think the process requires a huge amount of humility from everyone involved."

One other comment from a guy in the seminary class who actually checked CVC out:


 "Mark... thank you for sharing the story of Cuyahoga Valley Church. This sounds like it has worked...and wow does it take a great deal of 'God work' to pull this off. The men and women that helped facilitate this are to be commended...and God gets a big kudos, too! For every 'baton passing' that works, I will bet gold there are many that end up tearing up the church family...mostly because humility is a rare commodity...even in the church."

Mark's final comment:
"Props to you and everyone at CVC for making this work. It's more glory to God!"


***

Wow. We are part of a seminary conversation that will, hopefully, equip future leaders! Please continue to pray that we all stay humble at CVC and that God will continue to bless our transition and use it to encourage other churches.

Question: What has been your experience with Lead Pastor transitions?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Navigating change

 
Lot's of changes have been taking place at CVC lately. I passed the baton of Lead Pastor to Chad Allen. Our mission statement has changed. We have experienced several staff resignations. Service times have been adjusted. Even our stage decor has been updated and refreshed.

Generally, the changes seem to have been received pretty well. Some CVCers are early adopters. Some tend to embrace change very slowly. A few just don't like change much at all. Sadly, God has led some to leave CVC. Most CVCers are still working on making the adjustments while trying to process the changes.

Recently, we received some honest questions about the changes from a long-time, faithful CVCer.

***



"CVC has always held a special place in our heart. We consider this our second family... So many churches around the area do not offer one tenth of the support that CVC offers... I knew the first time that we walked into your church that this is where we belong and I have no regrets!

"However... I feel a concern in my heart but I can’t put my finger on it... I have been praying to God about what I am feeling regarding the church and whatever is or has happened and I hope with all of my heart that I get some clarity... I want to believe that CVC is as stable and will continue to do what they do best BE PASSIONATE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST!

"I pray with all my heart that the strength and belief that I have learned about through CVC will help me through what I have concerns about. Something seems different."

***

I know this CVCer is not alone. Maybe you have some of the same understandable concerns.

Three different CVC staffers responded. For brevity and simplicity, I will combine these responses below. Perhaps this response to one CVCer will help others. Maybe it will help you process the changes, too.

***

"Thank you for expressing your very honest thoughts and concerns in such an affirming way. How refreshing! Much of what you share is in the hearts and minds of others at CVC also. And as you mention, likely the concern is due to a natural tendency in many of us to become uneasy with the things that aren’t the norm or a bit unfamiliar and the ramifications that can come of navigating unfamiliar waters.

"This season at CVC truly is a ground-breaking, never-before-experienced, incredible time in the life of this body. It brings 'bumps in the road', no doubt; but we personally are confident and excited about how and where God is leading CVC now and into the future.

"Yes, we have had lots and lots of change. We believe that it is good change.

"Our staff, elders, and leadership have spent countless hours praying, studying scripture, and seeking God for clarity concerning our vision for the future. We are seeking a fresh expression of the same mission we've always had.

"The whole process has given each of us as leaders an opportunity to evaluate our commitment to CVC's vision, our values, our strategy, and our focus on discipleship. As we have gained clarity, most of our staff members have been greatly energized by the focus and are more committed than ever to serve Jesus through the ministry of CVC. A few - godly people to be sure - have felt that CVC was no longer the best fit for them. We have been sorry to see them leave but are confident that God will help them find the best place for them to serve Jesus. We are confident that God will send us the right people to fulfill our mission.

"You've already, no doubt, heard our new mission: Inviting people to new life in Christ. Tagline: Live new. Additional tagline: Everyone. Live new. Every day.

"We shared our passions/values: Living truth, God dependence, Caring community, Linked generations, Equipped leadership, and Missional Living.

"So, what's all this about? We are reorganizing for the next phase of ministry as a church. Jesus says that He prunes us so we can bear more fruit (John 15). Pruning does hurt. But it's good for the branches and for a greater harvest. This is why we are excited and expectant.

"People both inside and outside CVC often ask how the transition is going. We think it is going amazingly well. CVC loves Chad and his heart for Christ. He is the real deal. His walk with Christ and desire to serve Him well are authentic. But we ought to wait at least a year to see how the transition has gone. The true test will be how we are doing a year or two. We honestly think we will be doing better as a church a year from now.

"Our honest request from you is that you also give these transitions a year or two, too. We believe you will see that although the changes and pruning were discomforting, they have resulted in great good for the cause of Christ, for the expansion of His kingdom throughout NE Ohio, and for the growth and health of CVC.

"Again, we would just like to say 'thank you' for being open in sharing your thoughts and feelings. It demonstrates ownership in our body and that is a quality we desire and value here. Your prayers are always gratefully welcomed, especially as we move into a new season.

"Every flight has a little turbulence and every drive has some bumps in the road. Leading a church of our size, especially through a significant transition, is no different. Although the turbulence or bumps are not always expected or hoped for, we trust God as we experience them.


"We are confident in the team that God has given us here at CVC and we look forward to all that He will continue to do here as we navigate through the vision and calling He has given us.

"Thank you again for being up front and real with us. I hope you keep praying for us to hear God’s voice and to follow His leading!!"


Question: How have you helped people navigate change in your organization?






Thursday, October 04, 2012

Are you still awed by our awesome God?



This past Sunday while on vacation, I wanted to have a worship experience that was a little different than the norm.

So, I visited a very traditional Presbyterian church. It was hymns, a choir special, the Apostles Creed, ushers, an offeratory, and a children's sermon. Plus, the pastor, Dr. Walter Taylor, wore a robe. (I must confess that during the service I googled the pastor on my iPhone and learned that, like me, the pastor was also a graduate of Vanderbilt University.)

To say the least, what I experienced was quite different from the typical Sunday fare at CVC.

Whenever we go to church and whatever the environment, as long as we are expectant, we can hear from God.

And I did hear from God this past Sunday.

I emailed the Walter after the service to thank him. I wrote, "As a member of the clergy, I certainly was challenged and encouraged by your message today. Thanks. I will use your words for reflection during my time away.

"Because I didn’t want to forget it, I tweeted the quote you shared from C.S. Lewis: 'None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterised with holy things; sacred things may become profane by becoming matters of the job.'"

"Thanks so much for bringing my attention to Lewis’ words. Your story was sobering about the elder from your previous church who was in a torrid adulterous relationship for 5 years yet served the church including the Lord’s Supper with his unholy hands. May God save us all from such things." 


It is a temptation unique to the ministry to become callous to holy things because we deal with holy things routinely on the job.

As Lewis says, our hands can be "cauterized with holy things." Just in case you didn't know, to cauterize means to make insensitive or callous; to deaden feelings or morals.

A spiritual leader is required to share impomptu and planned spiritual insights at weddings, during funerals, in conversations, and through messages. Vocational Christian workers almost always have to be "on." It's always game day.

That means our peculiar temptation is for us to talk about the glory of God whether or not we feel the weight of the glory of God. Clergy must appear to have a vital faith whether we do or not. 

The visit to the Presbyterian church this past weekend was a sober warning and a challenging encouragement for me to pray that the awesome things of God that I talk about and handle every day will produce a true awe in the deepest parts of my soul.

And may that be true for you, too. As one spiritual leader wrote on his blog, "The danger in our case of having our 'hands cauterised with holy things' is acute. May God protect us from it, brothers, as we remain vigilant to always keep our hearts happy in God.”

Question: When and how are you most tempted to have hands "cauterized with holy things"?
 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Most read blog posts in September

The indispensable ingredient for God dependent leadership


Two weekends ago, we completed the passing of the Cuyahoga Valley Lead Pastor baton pass from me to Chad Allen. I had a few things to say to encourage and cheer on Chad. Since we have 4 weekend services plus our 707 service on Sunday nights, I shared 4 different messages each time. Here's what I shared at noon service.

If you are a young leader who hopes to one day receive a leadership baton, maybe these words will encourage you, too.

***

Chad, stay filled with the Spirit.
The enemy is going to sow seeds of doubt in your mind, “Can I do really this job? Am I truly ready? What if I don’t have enough strength or smarts?”

Now, what I am going to say next, you already know. The truth of the matter is that you don’t have enough smarts or strength! Not for this job. Not on your own.

And neither did Joshua. He didn't have enough smarts or strength to lead the people of God after Moses left the scene.

"So the Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him" (Numbers 27:18).

The term “spirit” could refer to Joshua’s own innate leadership capacity. It’s why some versions treat this word with a lower case “s.” But it is also possible to read the word “Spirit” here as a distinct reference to the Holy Spirit. And I personally think that’s the better interpretation.

Joshua was a Holy Spirit-empowered leader of the people.

"Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses" (Deuteronomy 34:9, ESV).

Chad, we need you to be filled with the Spirit. As we read in the New Testament, when leaders are filled with the Spirit, they bear the fruit of the Spirit and people find new life in Christ.

We leak, right? Even pastors. Maybe especially pastors. We need constant filling of the Spirit. We sin.

Several years back, to help us stay filled with God’s Spirit, I encouraged our people to make a habit of praying 3 prayers: “Father, search me. Jesus, cleanse me. Spirit, fill me.” I encourage you to pray this way.

Walk in the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit. It’s not by human might, not by man’s power, but by the Spirit. Abide in Christ. Let the words of Christ dwell in you richly. In this way, you will see God do abundantly beyond anything you could ever imagine. This is about being God dependent.

Your godly wife, Rica, believes you are the kind of leader who knows he needs the Spirit’s power to bear fruit. You’ve already heard her heart for you in 2 others services. I want to read to you something else Rica wrote to encourage you today:

“I am thrilled for you as you step into this new lead role at CVC. I could see this in your life years ago, that God was grooming you for such a time as this. To see you lead with strength, honesty, purity, integrity, humility, and Christ-likeness is such a blessing. 

"Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called, and you are certainly called! I know you will see much fruit for God’s glory because that’s what you are about. You didn’t move us all the way out here to play patty cake [I believe I am directly quoting you on that one – haha]. 

"I love your heart for restoration and seeing many, many lives transformed by the power of Christ! The mere fact that you live what you preach, will allow much fruit to come. You are also completely God-Dependent… you’ve never once thought you could do this on your own.”  

Chad, I love that your wife sees God dependence in you. Stay that way, my friend. Stay filled with the Spirit.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Something most pastors never dare to say to their churches



Recently, we completed the passing of the Cuyahoga Valley Lead Pastor baton pass from me to Chad Allen. I had a few things to say to encourage and cheer on Chad. And I had a few things to say to our church.

What follows is something that incoming pastors can't say to their churches very easily. But outgoing pastors can say it.

If you are a older, outgoing leader who wants to set up a younger, incoming leader to succeed, maybe these bullets will fit your gun. Shoot 'em! And as my former pastor, Adrian Rogers, used to say, "Just make sure you bring your own gunpowder!" 

*** 

CVC, obey your leader in the Lord. Yes, I did say "obey." That sounds so counter to our American ears. We are revolutionaries, right? No one tells us what to do!

But did you see the call to follower-ship in Numbers 27:20?

God told Moses regarding Joshua, "Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him" (Numbers 27:20, ESV).

Joshua had been a servant and an assistant to Moses. But something changed here in the relationship. Now, Joshua is going to share leadership with Moses during a mentoring phase until the baton is finally passed. And the people are to follow Joshua as well as Moses.


Once Moses passed the baton, the people were to follow Joshua just like they were supposed to follow Moses. And that meant they were to obey their new leader, Joshua.

And they later made a firm commitment to obey their leader in the Lord.

"And they answered Joshua, All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go" (Joshua 1:16, ESV).

Well, that's just Old Testament stuff, right? We are not under law, but under grace, right? We don't have to obey our leaders now, do we?

Quick! Check out two New Testament passages.

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of thier way of life, and imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7, ESV).

It gets stronger.

"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Hebrews 13:17, ESV).

Churches are commanded by God to give their pastors and leaders joy by obeying the leadership.

This is not talking about blind obedience, of course. If a pastor is leading you astray, then you have to follow God. If Chad ever tells you to drink the Kool Aid, you have to say "No!"

But that's not who Chad is. He follows Christ. He is a man worth following. That's why we are installing him as the CVC pastor today. He's a man of God. And that means we need to follow his lead.

CVC, over the last 25 years you have been amazingly supportive of me. Thank you. You are a great church in that way. You have given me much joy as you have followed my lead.


Here’s my challenge to you. Give Chad even more joy than you gave me. Obey him. Submit to him and to the elders, staff, and other leaders here even more than you did to me.

Look again carefully at Hebrews 13:17. Obeying spiritual leaders is advantageous to you. God sends advantages our way when we obey.

And Chad, I want to go public with this: I intend to obey you - to be the very best staff member I can possibly be for you. I will pray for you. Because you are that God-appointed, deeply spiritual, shepherd-leader who is a faithful example to the flock, I want you to know that I will support you. If anybody comes to me to complain about you or the direction of the church, I will send them straight to you. I’ll have wax in my ears. I know you won’t do everything my way. And you shouldn’t. But I want to obey Hebrews 13:17. That means I will be your raving fan.  


CVC, let's obey our new leader in the Lord. That's to our advantage.

Monday, October 01, 2012

How to thank your church


Recently, we completed the passing of the Cuyahoga Valley Lead Pastor baton pass from me to Chad Allen. I had a few things to say to encourage and cheer on Chad. And I had a few things to say to the church.

The first thing I shared was simple. And, I hope, meaningful. It was a thank you.

When I shared with the church what you'll read below, it was emotional for me. Very emotional. At the 10:30 service, I almost couldn't speak because the feelings were so thick.

Truly, I was speaking from the heart.

***

Thank you.

You’ve put up with me for 26 years. Only my family has put up with me longer. But wait. You are my family, too.

Thank you.

I’ve made lots of mistakes as your pastor. I wish I had been better. I wish I had sacrificed more and served better. There are lots of things I should have done as your pastor but didn't. There are lots of things I shouldn't have done as your pastor but did. You could have had and should have had a better pastor.

But the grace of God has helped us through the highs and lows, the trials and triumphs, the failures and the victories. Over 1,000 people baptized here at CVC. New churches have been planted here in NE Ohio and around the world.

What a run we’ve had together!

It’s been so good – much, much better than I deserved.

I truly believed that planting and then pastoring CVC for the last 25 years is what I was created to do. It’s why I was made. All the experiences I've had, the relationships I've been given, the disciplines God has built into my life prepared me for this. CVC has been my life’s work.

CVC, as Paul told the Philippians, you are my joy and my crown. You are my gold medal.

Thank you, CVC. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

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