Archive for November, 2008


can’t wait

November 25, 2008

I can't wait for this long weekend!!

Can't wait to connect with family, stay up too late, eat, laugh, sleep, play.  The timing of this holiday week seems SO perfect right now! 

One of my Thanksgiving traditions is going to a movie with my brother in law Dallas and whomever can go.  Of course that also happens to be my tradition at many other times during the year as well.

Do you have any traditions on this thanksgiving week?


when friends suffer

November 21, 2008

7-13-07 003

Last night I went to my best friend's sister's memorial service.  Gretta died tragically while on vacation in Mexico last week, accidentally falling off a balcony.  She was 36.

I have known Ace since junior high.  I can't really explain the soul connection I have with Ace, but I wish I could.  I literally am tearing up right now trying to find the words. 

Its not even that Ace and I have kept in really close contact over the years.  We live minutes from each other, but sometimes will go months without seeing each other.  But there is no drop off with Ace.  The second we see each other, we are as comfortable around one another as we were in high school.  And I truly love him.

He is the kind of friend who without question could call me at 3 in the morning, and I would be there for him, to help him or his family in anyway.

And so to be there yesterday for me, to watch him cry, and mourn his sister's death, so hard to describe the emotion. 

I thank God for friends like Ace in my life.  I am a better person just for being able to count him as my friend.  And I hate knowing he and his family are suffering right now.


today finds me

November 18, 2008


I have been very raw this week.  Normal situations, comments etc, have this week made it past normal defense and process mechanisms and I have seen myself react far less patient, loving, and understanding.  There have been a few emails I have had to write and not send, but just needed to write them to get some feelings out.

Sometimes when the enormity of life hits around you with people you love, the petty stuff seems so annoyingly petty.

My best friend called me last week, in tears, as his sister Greta died while on vacation in Mexico with her family.  She fell of a balcony accidentally while trying to get into her locked room from her friend’s room next door.  She was 36, with a beautiful family.

Another dear friend is facing the loss of their spouse after 20 plus years of marriage, and the ensuing destruction surrounding that would make most people crumble to dust.

I then come in to work and read things like harsh quick comments about the arrangements of songs on Sunday morning, and beg God for perspective on how to reply when everything in me this week jumps to anger and judgement. 

Not sure the point of this post, other than to point out the need for us, including me, to seek to be more aware of what is important in life, and to think carefully about how we communicate to people in a way that gets a point across but does so in love and respect for people.   Easier said than done.  I can’t point the finger because I can be so guilty of this. 


Why do you go to church?

November 12, 2008

We had an interesting discussion in management team today.  We discussed why people go to church?  Is it because of a relationship with someone at the church?  Is it because of the preaching style or music style in the worship service?  Is it about your small group?  Is it because of a serving opportunity?

The reality is there has been a shift about the reasons why people go to church, with many people now going to several churches, and still calling one church their "Home" but fellowshipping in many different places for many different reasons.

So I wrote this blog because I would love to hear from you, WHY DO YOU GO TO CHURCH?



November 8, 2008

I used to tease my wife when she would refer to the book of etiquette.  I have never been one for caring a lot about what side of the plate my fork is on, or teaching my daughter to curtsy after dinner.  (I don't know if people really do that but it sounded appropriate.)

But there is a new phenomenon that has surfaced in recent years, and it seems appropriate to mention some possible rules for the betterment of all.  That phenomenon?  The tivo, the dvr, the ability to pause live TV.  While there are some GREAT pro's to this, there are many pitfalls that a host needs to be aware of when having guests in the home, and watching TV together.

I humbly submit this first draft of the top three rules and would love to hear your input.  These are NOT directed at any one person, particularly not my father in law Bob who I love and am very grateful for.

Rule #1.  Just because you can push pause, doesn't mean you should.  While a great thought might have just come to your mind, and you have the power to make yourself the center of attention by pausing the fourth quarter of a close basketball game to tell me about something that happened to you last week, please know most of your guests enjoy multi-tasking and can handle keeping up the momentum of the game while listening to you.   When you are alone, push pause a thousand times an hour, go nuts with the pause button.  When you are hosting company, try to limit the pauses to say, 2 an hour.  (This has never happened to me, its just a completely random example.)

Rule #2.  This is more advice than a hard and fast rule.  Not everyone hates commercials.  Some people enjoy them, and when they are suddenly paused, fast forwarded, or the volume muted, often awkward silence ensues as the guest feels weird about asking you to turn up the Geico Caveman Commercial because he loves to hate it.

Rule #3. Again, more just sound advice than a rule, but think of your controllers like potty humor jokes, best to just stay away from them when company is around.

Rule #4.  Sports shows probably know better than you when to replay something great.  They have been doing it a long time, and pay good money for some guys up in a really cool booth to do it, and are probably going to show the replay you just rewound another five times in the next ten minutes.  Be patient, see if they do it so you don't have to.

Well that's a good start.  Would love to get a few more rules from you.  And I'm looking forward to hearing your comments Bob! :) 


Joyless Christians

November 6, 2008

frown boy frown

Ever met one? Ever been one? I could answer yes to both of those.

One of the first things to go when you lose hope, is laughter, and your sense of humor. Children so easily laugh, so easily giggle, so easily dance. What happens to us? Seriously. I go to some church business functions (not Sunset’s of course) and wonder who died? And we are supposed to be the ones who know our future, know our hope, experience mercy and grace. That reality should fill us with a sense of joy despite our earthly trials.

This week in our worship gathering the worship team is going to be talking about the spiritual discipline of celebration. You can’t celebrate without joy, and you can’t have joy without hope. Has your laughter died? Are you losing your sense of humor? Are you losing hope? Have you forgot how to celebrate?

Joy and gratitude go hand in hand. Every moment of life is a gift. Whenever I read verses like the ones I read today in 1 Peter, I always get this sense that if I could truly grasp this, truly comprehend it and the words could break through to my soul, that it would fill me with hope and joy and gratitude and lead to celebration.

Read these verses and try not to have hope, I dare ya.

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6 So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Now celebrate those truths and let your face know it!



Management Team update

November 6, 2008

management team pic

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.

So today (Nov 5th) after our management team I wrote this to the team I serve with and am responsible for.  This is in letter format with some bulletin point items.


Dear Team,

I left management team today with many emotions. Honestly my heart kind of broke a little because I didn’t want to have to report on what we talked about. I didn’t and don’t feel the ability to put “positive” spin or “big picture” language to the hard part, which was more budget impact. I physically feel like a piece of wet cold spaghetti because I know that what you do, what we do, often takes money, and right now this church is in cut back mode, for real and appropriate reasons, and that can be discouraging. I guess what I want you to know, is as I report on this, it matters to me, how it affects you, how it makes you feel, how it can make things harder, it matters to me, and I don’t report on this casually, not even for a second. I am pretty sure something that I just wrote makes me a rookie leader, but I’m good with that. I guess with that intro I better talk about the budget first because you probably wouldn’t read anything else before that now anyway!

Ron asked Mike (operations) to come up with a contingency plan budget, of taking another $150k out of the budget, (above the $500k we already took out), but to do it with no staff impact, in case things get worse in the economy. So Mike has gone through line items, and come up with a proposed contingency budget cut totaling that. If this were a just in case thing, trust me, I would not be mentioning it to you now. But the reality is until we get a report in January that things are going good (Mike to determine what that benchmark is), we need to look at these cuts as entirely possible. So in the mean time, we have been asked to clear expenditures, even ones that are in our current new budget, through Mike. He has not set a dollar figure on that, but my advice is to look at the attached list, and if the area you want to spend on is listed there as possibly becoming zeroed out, then it qualifies as something we have to check on and get cleared if we want to spend in that area. (I am not including that list on this blog, tmi!)

Other topics today that I attempted to engage in

Review Policies & Procedures Manual

We wrapped up this discussion today.

*Setting tougher policies of hiring relatives on staff in the future to avoid conflicts of interest. Current situations are grandfathered in. (that is being added to the policy manual)

*Retirement plan significant change. This one has the most immediate effect. Currently Sunset gives 1% of your retirement, but gives you 2% automatically even if you don’t put in. And then the third percent happens if you put money in. Now you have to put in money to get any back. If you don’t put any money in, you get 0 matched. This isn’t official yet but probably will be after the session vote soon.

*part time employees don’t get paid 8 hours on a holiday, they get whatever percentage of that day that their status reflects. (half time employees would get 4 hours on a holiday, 30 hour employees would get 6 hours of pay on a holiday.

Church/Worship Growth Plans

Started by reviewing some old notes and strategic plans when Julie was on the team, regarding church growth, priorities etc.

*We are going to have Prayer area in the lobby starting on the Nov 16th service, for additional prayer support after the call to Salvation. But the intent is to have it every Sunday.

*Mike is setting up the area, Barb is coordinating with Gail Tait on the people side of things. It may be something that we incorporate in on if people from our teams are interested and willing.

*Stage language-continuing to make sure that it is welcoming, relevant, work with people who give announcements, worship leaders etc on this. This was an action item with Julie, that is now under my ownership.

**We discussed that there is a need for church to have a feeling when you come in and not just a place for information. How do you feel, ambience etc when you come in?  It’s important.  We have a great building, but no place for a group of people to routinely hang out, and have conversation etc. Ron charged Mike to begin to develop a plan to utilize our lobby to be a place where relationships could form and deepen, to connect.  So much of this also has to do with staff being available and present as much as possible, particularly pastors.

*Overall action item for our team, remind the teams that serve  that we are deputizing them to stay after, connect with people. We NEED help, I need help, I can’t connect with hundreds of people, but our ministry can make a dent in this.

*Strategic Plan Progress

Mike says that many of the goals are vague and unmeasurable. So we are going through and cleaning up the language on some of it.

Strategic plan should connect with the goals in the review process.

Talked about how to report what our  own ministry goals are, and how they are lining up with the strategic goals of the church.

OK, now that I have written all that out, my blood pressure is coming down just as yours might be going up. I will say this, I truly believe that it is in budget crunches that the true test of our heart and motives and reliance on God gets a chance to shine. And even in the midst of this stinky reality, there are so many wonderful things happening each week that I for one am still crazy about being here and being with you guys. Thank you for being patient with me in learning how to navigate this type of communication and trying to learn how to lead through this stuff. Pray for me.

The end