Archive for August, 2008


Management team day 2 recap

August 27, 2008


What is management team?  It is a small group of people that are on Ron’s team to help fulfill the mission and vision of our church.  Some of you will find this stuff boring, others will probably be curious to know what happens in meetings like this. My main goal in posting these weekly meetings is communication. It’s easy to take shots at a “committee” making secret decisions with a secret agenda. It’s much more healthy to open up the dialogue to the people we are serving. That really is the point of this team,  to serve our congregation and our community. I wish we could change the name to Servant Team or something similar! Your feedback and comments are welcome!!

The team includes Ron, myself, Barb Fiel, Mike Matousek, Eric Venable, and Beth Werner.

Hey all,

Happy Wed.  Kind of a low key management team today.  Barb is gone, Ron is gone, Beth was late, one of those types of days. (sorry Beth, thought about editing that but left it in, strictly for entertainment value) (She wasn’t that late)

I recapped our strategic planning meeting that worship just had last week briefly.  That was pretty cool to be able to be able to do! 

*Beth talked about William Walker, which is an elementary school that Sunset has adopted to help in various ways as a way of reaching out in our community.   We discussed what has worked/hasn’t worked in communicating this to the congregation, and how we can be more successful in the fall.

*We discussed church wide communication, and what a challenge it is.  Hundreds of requests, countless announcements that could be made weekly.  What does get announced or communicated, how, who makes the call, what are the different avenues to communicate etc were just some of the things raised.  What does what we decide to communicate say about what Sunset feels is important, and doesn’t?

We have an upcoming annual meeting on Oct 12th.  Some people come to these looking for just the facts, others want to hear vision, others don’t bother coming.  We talked about the balance and how to continue to improve what happens at this meeting.

We also discussed staff training, what we would like to see this year, hands on things versus big picture items etc. 

Then we discussed Faith at Home, which is something management team has agreed to make a church wide focus this upcoming year.  (The short story is making your family or your home the priority for living out and passing on your faith to the next generation, and not relying on the church to do that for you or your family).  We talked about the reality that “family” means so many different things according to your specific situation, and that we would need to address that well.  Before we get to the “initiatives” part of the plan for the church, management team has to get on the same page of what this will look like.  We are hoping to make some good ground on that before Ron comes back in two weeks.

There were some other misc topics, but that was the just of the morning.




Grandma’s got game

August 26, 2008

It’s hard with pictures to show you what this water slide was like at the family reunion.  The speed with which people torpedoed down was impressive.  The kind of speed where your cheeks jiggle, (all four), and the look on everyone’s face on the way down was a mix of fear and concentration so intense you wondered if they were actually having fun.  The kind of speed that makes splashes like the ones you see below.

 Reunion_105 Reunion_065Reunion_189

The most impressive thing of all about this slide, is that my 87 year old grandma went down it THREE TIMES!  I could barely stand to watch, fearing for her back or heart or skin or something.  Each time though she got out with a smile on her face and a look that said “Bring it on!”

Here’s a pic of my grandma Betty in action.  Thanks grandma for inspiring me to live a little!



Camp Morrow family reunion

August 24, 2008


Having an awesome time at a family reunion at camp morrow. fishing, swimming, water slide, boating etc. posting this with my phone for the first time. Really missed Sunset this morning but the simple church service was awesome. They asked me to lead worship but I said I just wanted to be and not lead. We come home tonight late. I took this pic early this morning when I went fishing.



August 19, 2008

My friend Todd Frimoth wrote this last week in response to our team expressing a prayer to God about living more by the Spirit.  It is BEAUTIFUL so I thought I’d share.


What is this desire?
            Is it something I see
            Or a fire inside that burns
            Like a smoldering coal
            Red & glowing – and lasting.
To where do I take this desire?
            Bury it deep to share with no one?
            To fester and not without release
            To repress as not to seem foolish
            Remain faithful and true to my duty?
If it lives within me
            Placed there by my living God
            To be used for abundant living
            Why is it I keep it hidden
                        And tucked away within chains
                        Hardened as steel?
Fleeting and floundering as I do
            I seek to rebirth this passion
            That has been given to me
As a gift from dawn’s beginning.
Knowing that without it,
            Without letting it flow from me
            like a mountain stream finds its confluence,
I will cease to love fully, and desire little.


leaders and expectations

August 15, 2008

I spent over an hour tonight listening to someone talk about their expectations of pastors at their church. (not my church)  These types of conversations have been very common with me since I’ve been in ministry.  And if I’m not having them impromptu I invite them because I know its a good idea to get the reality of what people are thinking. 

Know everyone’s name, engage them in public, give them a place to feel connected at church, serve in the community any chance available, listen to everyone’s suggestions and complaints whenever they have them, and implement the changes.  All this and whatever else your other responsibilities happen to be at church.

Today’s conversation came on the same day that someone I respect from my church let me know they were feeling unwanted/unneeded and neglected in the music ministry at Sunset.

Sometimes its overwhelming realizing the expectations of pastors and knowing how short I personally fall.  Don’t get me wrong, there is and should be a high standard for leaders.  And leaders should be held accountable when they are not leading well.  I’m not saying I have an answer.  I’m more just writing out of emotion right now, and invite your dialogue.  What are you looking for in a leader at your church?  If you could break it down to the top three things, what would they be?


begging for the Spirit

August 14, 2008

Tonight for our worship gathering rehearsal the team had some homework.  They wrote out a prayer to God expressing their desire to live by His Spirit more in their daily lives.  And then also to express a prayer for our church body to do the same.  This evening we will read these prayers out loud to one another as we prepare for Sunday and our corporate worship time.

I just finished spending some time with God in His Word and writing out my prayer.

Here it is

I am humbled praying to live by the Spirit more in my life. Humbled because of how poor I know I am at it. Truthfully at times it seems my mind actively avoids listening to the Spirit, and instead fills itself with mindless, anything. And I’m supposed to be a pastor. I seem to jump from one distraction to another with ease. God break my walls. God allow me to face whatever it is your Spirit has for me that I sometimes seem hell-bent on shutting out. Take it all God, take everything, if it means I will live a broken life before You. I don’t want to go to my grave wondering what a fully surrendered life to Your Spirit would have been like.

And for this church Lord. Would you shake us? Shake us out of our slumber? Shake us into spiritual reality, and into action? Do your work here Lord. Get into our hearts collectively and move us where you want us. May this be a place, may we be a people that are laid bare before Your power, so there is no other explanation other than the Spirit of God. May all the junk that isn’t from you fall away. Take the shackles off of tradition and routine and organization and politics and opinions. Be our God here Lord, for real.


We choose to be real

August 11, 2008

The following is something I wrote for a devotional for our ministry at Sunset.  The phrase “We choose to be real” will be the phrase we adopt this year in our ministry and really shape what we do around it.

You come into church and take your seat. No one knows the day or week you had, but it has left you numb. You see the words on the screen, you hear the music, but nothing is stirs inside, it bounces off the walls around your heart. The woman on your left has her eyes closed and hands raised with tears coming down and you think to yourself, “What’s wrong with me?”

Or maybe you arrive at church or small group, and you just need someone to care, someone to notice that you are hurting in some way. You make small talk with a few people who ask how you are, to which you routinely answer, “Fine.”

Or maybe it’s Monday, and the day before you had with all your heart sang songs of commitment before God about giving Him your life. But now you are back at school, or back on the job, and thoughts or speech betray you before its even lunchtime, and you feel hopeless to live a life that reflects what deep down you believe.

Perhaps you look at your Christian life, and suddenly it feels like it’s in a box of just things to check off to feel good about yourself, and has no impact on the community or world around you. You can’t stand it anymore, and want something deeper, more dangerous, than what you have been experiencing.

I think if we’re honest, if we’re real, we can all identify with one or all of those scenarios at many times in our journey. But we RARELY discuss these things together. So often we choose to stay on the surface, to put on a facade of joy and to settle for the same, the easy, and the comfortable.

This year, in our ministry, what God is stirring in my heart so strongly can be summed up in this phrase, “We choose to be real”.

We choose to be real before God about where we are before Him. We will bring Him our questions, our hurts, our joys and our praise. We choose to acknowledge when our hearts are hard and we are struggling to praise. We choose to acknowledge when we’ve sinned and are in need of forgiveness. We choose to let our joy show for our forgiveness, and for answered prayer, and when we feel the joy of God in our hearts.

We choose to be real with one another. Real about our lives, about our struggles, and about our questions. We will choose to go beyond surface with one another because we are family, a church family, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We choose to show real love to one another, even when it’s hard.

We choose to be real about our desire to be more than just a Sunday hour of religion, because we know if that is all we are, we are not real. We choose to find out how we can be Jesus with our whole lives, outside of these walls. We choose to be real before our community. Because they need to see realness, because they will relate to realness, because it will show them the presence of God in our lives, and make it real for them to experience that too. We choose to make Sunday’s worship a snap shot of a real life lived in worship the rest of the week.

We choose to be real. Will you go on this journey with me?


hot vs cold

August 10, 2008

Allison and I have two very different core temperatures. I like to think of mine as normal while she is freakishly cold. 

This plays itself out nearly every day in our house.  If I am sweating, and slightly irritable from my house feeling like a sauna, it means she is just about right.  If she has goosebumps, her feet have turned to human ice blocks, and her lips are blue that means I’m just about right.

There was a time where we would each visit the thermostat every five minutes or so to set our desired temps.  Hers, 77 or higher.  Mine, 73 or lower.  I attempted at one point to set it and then tape it shut, but that didn’t last long.  She got the scissors and we were back to global warming. 

Macy has proven to be a miniature Allison, so I am outvoted right now two to one.  I’m hoping Ava has my core temperature so we can be evenly represented in the climate of our house.

What about you?  What’s your ideal temp setting?


first time for everything

August 7, 2008

So I did something today I should have done at least once a year for the last four years.

Better late than never.  I am asking several people whose opinion I value and who are affected by my leadership some vulnerable questions so that I can become a better leader. 

These are the questions that I asked them.

1. In the transition from Julie to me, what is your greatest fear for the ministry based on what you have seen in my leadership?

2. What are one or two things you see currently just missing from my leadership? (or more if you’ve got em.)

3. Are you aware of hallway conversations about a hole or weakness in my leadership that no one has had the guts to say to me?

4. What are some things I am doing or not doing that is killing passion or energy or forward momentum?

5. What is something you have personally just wished for me in my role that you haven’t voiced to me?

6. What would you consider my greatest strength that you want me to continue in my leadership style? (to make me feel better after reading the top questions)

And also, with this level of vulnerability, obviously anything else you feel prompted to let me know, I would SO appreciate you writing that as well!  Don’t be surprised if I call you or schedule a follow up for clarification.  Thanks friends.



So now I am waiting for their replies! 

Have you ever done anything like this?

As scary as that was, I need to do the same type of thing with my family, to let them give honest feedback on my role as a dad and husband.  That’s next.

ps just so you know I’m not looking for feedback on these questions on this blog :), but you are welcome to email me!


Management team day 1

August 6, 2008


Today is my first day on management team.  What is management team?  It is a small group of people that are on Ron’s team to help fulfill the mission and vision of our church.  Some of you will find this stuff boring, others will probably be curious to know what happens in meetings like this. My main goal in posting these weekly meetings is communication. It’s easy to take shots at a “committee” making secret decisions with a secret agenda. It’s much more healthy to open up the dialogue to the people we are serving. That really is the point of this team,  to serve our congregation and our community. I wish we could change the name to Servant Team or something similar! Your feedback and comments are welcome!!

We meet here in the green room pictured below.

The team includes Ron, myself, Barb Fiel, Mike Matousek, Eric Venable, and Beth Werner.


Our talking points today were the following:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 8:30 AM – 10:50 AM


Our Vision: Connecting people to Jesus through relevance, discipleship and authenticity.


The first part of our meeting is dedicated to hearing from eachother’s lives, what we’re learning from the Bible, and to pray for one another.   This is crucial to forming a team with healthy relationships.  I love that we do this.  We also lift up the congregation and our community up in prayer together.  I so badly want our church family to begin to see this team in this light, as advocates, as servants to the larger body.

WORLD TRAVELER JOURNALS  In an effort to help the church go on a journey together of journaling and spending time in the Word, we have considered doing what we did last year, and hand out journals to everyone on our kick off weekend On Sept 7th.  We came up with options this year since its not in our budget to spend $17k to hand them out to everyone.  I think where we landed is we are going to provide sample journal pages in the bulletin that day, have people write in them during the service, and then give them an opportunity to pick up a free journal on the way out with a suggested donation of $5 to help cover cost.


The heart of this discussion is our desire for Sunset to increasingly become a family, a community, and to provide opportunity outside of our worship services for this to happen.  We believe we need to be intentional about this as leaders.  So we discussed everything from food and coffee to pancake breakfasts and just more places to “hang” in between and after services.  One of the decisions we made is we are definitely having a pancake breakfast on our kick off weekend on Sept 7th in between our services.  If you believe in this vision of building community here and would like to help shoot me an email at


This discussion has to do with how best to steward the money that people have graciously given specifically toward our building.  We have to make some decisions rather quickly on how to designate certain spaces in the building and we desire to make decisions that have the best long term impact for both the staff and our community.  One of our goals if we can swing it is to centralize and bring together the different ministries that have offices all over the campus, for more community even on our staff!  We also want to look at some of our current unfinished larger spaces and see how we can best use these for the community. 


One of the realities of working at a church is people come by looking for a handout.  This is not a bad thing of course, but there are some that do come by looking to take advantage of the situation.  They come at times when they know a pastor is not there, hoping to corner an admin or someone that they think they can make a quick dollar from.  We discussed ways of educating our staff to be prepared for these situations, when genuine help can be given and how, and when the best thing to do is to schedule them with a pastor etc.

Well, that was pretty much day 1, I summarized 3 hours down to that.  We had to leave to go and pray as our staff for our church, each other, and our community.

Would love to hear thoughts and feedback on anything I wrote about above.