In Between Sundays

The Wave

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This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking at a pastor-friend’s church in the Kansas City area.  He was on vacation with his family and asked me to step in and preach.  It’s actually become a bit of a routine.  This is the third or fourth time I’ve had the honor of speaking at his church . . . in July.

Over time I’ve become familiar with their church family.  Their story is familiar.  They were a church plant that needed a home.  The church immediately grew and they acquired a building that needed some “love” and set out to make it their home.  The changes were significant.  But, the most important step they took was to intentionally create a healthy, vibrant culture. 

Of course, I’m an outsider looking in, but at first glance, I’d give them a “5” in the category “Are we welcoming and inviting?”  Is this a complete picture?  No, it is a snapshot.   My friend’s church culture could be described in one word – community.  Their community is “gracious and hospitable; demonstrating genuine warmth.” 

Every church has a culture.  Culture is defined by all things combined.  It’s more than a mission statement, strategy, or a vision statement.

On the drive home from KC, I pondered these questions:

  • What is our present culture at Fellowship?
  • What does our culture say to the outsider, the casual observer, or the first-time guest?
  • Walking into our lobby, what are some quick observations they would say about what’s important to us?

A healthy church culture is the fertile soil where God plants His Gospel movement.

There’s a Gospel movement at Fellowship Bible.  It’s created by God and His Spirit.  No man can own it, claim it, or take credit for it.

Rick Warren calls it “the wave” – there’s a ground-swell, it rises up gaining momentum and speed.  Warren makes two points:  1) you cannot create, manipulate, or manufacture “the wave” – it is created by God and God alone, and he then points to the obvious, 2) you can’t surf on the backside of a wave. Think about that for a moment.

However, you can anticipate it. Catch it. Ride it.  Our anticipation of God’s wave at Fellowship has several implications:

  • Our attitude must be an attitude of prayer – “God, what do You want?”
  • We must pray in anticipation of a supernatural “wave” of God – “God, we are waiting for You.”
  • We must be structured and staffed to adapt to “the wave” – “God, we are ready.”
  • Our first response must always be to give all credit and praise to God. – “God, we will give You all the glory!”

Are we ready?

Here’s a song, titled SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD, that expresses it well:

Spirit of the Living God
Spirit of the Living God
We wanna know You more and more
We're hanging on every word

Spirit of the Living God
Spirit of the Living God
Come now and breathe upon our hearts
Come now and have your way

'Cause when you speak, when you move
When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes
What we see and what we seek

When you come in the room
When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes
What we see and what we seek
You're changing everything

Spirit of the Living God
Spirit of the Living God
Come now…

Words by Meredith Andrews

Posted by Ted Burden with

Character

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At Fellowship Bible Church, we place high value on the character of leaders.  In fact, we phrase it this way: “If you don’t have character, then the skills don’t matter.  In a world that seeks skills, competency, and fast turn-around’s (sometimes at the expense of others, and worse - the loss of integrity) we see the person of Jesus pointing us clearly to what we are becoming versus what we are doing

In the front of my Bible there’s a character checklist.  Here are some of the questions:

  • “Have you been a testimony this week of the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?”
  • “Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?”
  • “Have you lacked integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?”
  • “Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?” and . . .
  • “Have you been completely honest in all your answers?”

Potentially, none of the answers to the questions above would ever be known by anyone else.  But, I know and God knows.  They could be buried, never asked, or forgotten.  But, I know and God knows.  The reason they are there is that the nature of man – no, it is the nature of Ted Burden – to sin.  Note:  I did not say, Im struggling with . . ., or Im in a little spiritual battle and Im having a hard time overcoming . . .  I said ‘sin.’  Cutting corners, shifting blame, skimming over my quiet time, justifying my actions.  It’s all in one file titled “SIN.”  The reality is I must deal with it.  (See 1 John 1:9)

Left untended and unconfessed, my sin impacts my character.  The beauty of confession?  Here it is!  My sinis nailed to the cross and I bear it no more PRAISE THE LORD! PRAISE THE LORD! O, my soul! 

Brad Lomenick, in his book, HUMBLE, HUNGRY, and HUSTLE: H3 LEADERSHIP, offers wise counsel to anyone seeking to serve in ministry leadership: “Build who you are off the stage and behind the stage and beside the stage way before you start thinking about getting on the stage.”

How is character built? 

  • Pay attention to the gray areas
  • Treat every assignment as if it is your legacy
  • If you say you’ll do it, then do it
  • Technology and integrity are connected
  • Don’t try to please the naysayers
  • Make sure your character outdistances your competency

I’m going to add one more.

  • Keep your sin-life short; & apologize when wrong
Posted by Ted Burden with

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