Build What Is Unseen

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So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal [2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV]

Do you ever wonder what life could have looked like? I marvel at how God worked out so many ‘what if’ scenarios to get me to be where I am. How different could it have looked if at just one those pivotal moments I had chosen the other option.

Life is full of those kind of moment. We’ve all had them and, we will all have them again.

I may think that the substance of my life is based on what I can accomplish, how successful I am or what I accumulate along the way but I have come to recognise in reality, it’s not.

A life isn’t only built by all that we can see. Instead it is built by all that we cannot see.

I think this is why I love that I get to do what I get to, play my part in building local church. It’s too big for me to congratulate myself. In the breadth of eternity, what I’ve contributed is tiny.  And it’s not mine anyway – it belongs to Jesus, I am just a willing particpant, here to serve in the building.

When I get busy being someone who helps build Gods House, His church, my eyes are taken off the here and now, what I may think is important and they become fixed on what God wants. The things I can’t take with me. The things that are not temporary but eternal. Things like….

Faith exercised. 

People drawn to God. 

The making of disciples. 

Seeing lives being changed. 

A different kind of legacy. 

Treasures in heaven. 

I love Hebrews 11 where we read about a whole bunch of people who gave their lives for something they didn’t even get to see in the here and now. And they were happy with that.

They weren’t wanting to build something that could be seen now except to bring glory to their God. What they really built was an unseen future, one which others would get to enjoy in the here and now along with one they would enjoy for all of eternity.

Let’s be builders of the unseen. Less worried about what we have and give our lives to building others, building the church and thereby building our eternal future. 

6 Benefits of Leaders Working Together

When leaders work together you don’t only get things done but there are other benefits too:

Synergy. You create something greater than the sum of all the parts. 

Momentum. You make forward progress. Not just little steps either but leaps forward. 

Appreciation. You see the value that each person brings to the table. 

Soaring with Strengths. You soar with your strengths while others soar with theirs. 

Vision is Accomplished. You see what you are dreaming for becoming a reality as you work on it together. 

Culture Created. You build the culture of the organisation rather than forcing it. 

I’m sure there is more. What would you add to the list?

5 Areas for Continuous Improvement as an Exec Pastor

It’s easy to get caught up in the doing of a job, be overly-led by a job role/description, maybe even make the Executive Pastor [XP] role too operational. In my opinion it is much more than just keeping an eye on the budget and all that stuff, although they are very important.

Here are 5 things I work on and remind myself of often which I hope help me in my role as an XP .

To Be a Better Listener. I acknowledge this is a much needed area of improvement for me. I like to give an opinion, yet I am learning that the XP role requires a greater willingness to listen. It has to be about helping others feel like they have been heard and understood, even if the answer is still no or not yet.

To Become More Solution-Orientated. This doesn’t mean I fix everything but I can give time and attention to a challenge or idea that others may not be able to. Sometimes this can involve some tough conversations, asking the difficult questions and digging in to understand something properly. The bigger challenge is doing so in as graceful was as possible.

To Develop Others. I am always reminding myself, what we do is all about people. I  might love a good system or process to help move things forward, however there is no substitute for being more focused on growing bigger people.

To Make it More Fun. I mentioned in church the other Sunday how I used to be the life and soul of the party and that maybe I have allowed an appropriate level of sarcasm to become cynicism. There’s an honest ouch! Life should definitely be more fun.

To Always Know the Heart of my Lead Pastor. Probably the most essential. Knowing what to say yes or no to depends on me knowing and understanding my Lead Pastors heart. This means good, regular, open and honest communication, alongside the need for a strong trust-filled working relationship. If I don’t know him well enough then I cannot act on his behalf with any confidence.

I am here to serve my Lead Pastor and his vision, which is all about God and building the local church.  It’s about being able to work well with others, including people in the process, in the decisions and empowering them to make things happen.

If you are in a similar role, what would you add to this? If you are a Lead/Senior Pastor, what would your comments be?

Unlearn Church?

The recent advertising campaign by Ford challenged us to UNLEARN.

UNLEARN Postman
UNLEARN OAP
UNLEARN Pets
UNLEARN Autographs
UNLEARN Everything

Ultimately they are wanting us to think differently about cars made by Ford. To see Ford differently. The strap line they used was to ‘let go of what you know’. See the video here.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about this UNLEARN idea from a local church perspective and genuinely want to hear your thoughts. You may or may not be part of a church, that doesn’t matter.

Let me just say, I am not looking for an opportunity to become liberal in the message – the Good News of Jesus is just that and it will not change. I am not about to make some parts easier to swallow just because they challenge us. We all know the ‘how’ part can be amended. Perhaps the UNLEARN is part of this.

Here’s how I am approaching this thought:
1. Don’t think too long about the answer – your immediate thoughts are what I want to the 3 questions below…

Q1: What would it mean to UNLEARN church?
Q2: What do we need to UNLEARN to see our churches vision happen?
Q3: What do we think people not in church need to UNLEARN about church?

2. When it comes to the answers…
Be honest. Be creative. Think outside the box. Think about others. Be encouraging and positive. Keep it simple (so I can understand it).

3. Finally – let me know if you are a church goer as this will give me some context for your answers.

Let’s start a conversation and maybe UNLEARN church, seeing it as an opportunity to ‘let go of what we know’ and to learn something new that may be of benefit for those of us already in church and possibly of even greater benefit for those who are not going to church right now.

I know some of you are going to love this opportunity and thanks for getting involved.

A Day in the Life of Xcel

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Sunday ~ what a day. It doesn’t happen by chance. We pray like it depends on God but BIG UP to the teams that work like it depends on them!!

Here’s some of the things I love about my church…

3 locations. Multiple teams. All about lifting the name of Jesus and with a desire to see transformation in local community. It’s a beautiful thing. The willingness of so many volunteers to come early for set up, sound check and to pray together.

Troubleshooting. Things don’t always run smoothly. The ability to take on an issue and just get on with it, no fuss, no big panic, it is fantastic. Here’s the best thing too, most people wouldn’t have even realised that anything went wrong. Me included sometimes.

Worship. Such an excitement about the place as we get ready to record a live album on Sunday 11th September. Checkout this short clip from yesterday and another new song. Save the date!!

That we are building something for God. Never underestimate the power of a big vision to engage. The Xcel 2020 vision is bold but full of opportunities for some ‘only God’ moments. There is a place for everyone to participate.

The people. Just love the heart of the people. Love that they are with us on the journey. I know we may not always agree on the best way to do things and that’s ok. That’s family. We can have our discussions and then we get on with it. People are what this is all about. Connecting with Jesus. Connecting with others within Xcel. Connecting with those who don’t Jesus yet. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I could go on. The adventure is on and I am glad to be a part of it. Why not join us this Sunday and find our for for yourself what all the fuss is about. Check out the website

I Appreciate You

Just so you know, (put on best Southern drawl American accent), ‘I appreciate you’. 

I jest, but these three small words can seem hard for some people to say despite how powerful they are when spoken and received by the hearer.

It’s easy to make comments, find fault, defend your corner and have an opinion. Maybe we need to learn to say ‘Well done’, ‘Good job’, and ‘I appreciate what you have done’ more often. 

So let me be first to say to all the teams who serve across all our locations at Xcel, ‘I appreciate you’. Your effort, your sacrifice and your willingness to do whatever it takes to build local church does not go unnoticed. Thank you. 

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics [Exec Pastor Blog]

Ok. So this is a curious title. It is a well known phrase that describes the persuasive power of numbers, especially to prove certain things. We are not about that but in our weekly meeting tomorrow we are talking numbers. They are not our primary driver, but they are important. 

Nobody wants to think that we don’t care about the finances. We track the income and expenditure – you would expect that. 

Yet counting people and tracking numbers when it comes to people can often offend people. I think that’s because we don’t understand their importance….

We count people because people count. It is a cliche statement but it doesn’t make it any less true. 

We need to know if we are reaching people. The great commission is about making disciples, so the right and difficult question is ‘are we?’ Numbers can help us in that

We can feel like things are going well but the numbers rarely lie. We can always choose the right ‘period of time’ to make us look good. Neither are acceptable. Get the figures in front of you and be honest about what they tell you. 

We don’t substitute faith for numbers. We are still a faith church. We are still trusting God for the future. We pray like it depends on God. Yet we still work hard and make sure that what we are putting our energy and resources towards is actually making a difference. 

So today on my first day back I gathered those figures together ready for discussion in the morning. I can’t share the stats but I can say this…things are healthy. 

Resurrection Sunday

Christ is risen from the dead. What we do, how we live, that we have a right sense of purpose, and live differently. 

What we do is not a waste time, it matters. 

Having spent a week reflecting on the cross, today was about acknowledging the power that raised Christ from the dead, the same power which now resides in us too. 

Been a phenomenal day with Xcel Church. Powerful times of praise and worship for Jesus our Saviour. 1200 people across all services. Salvations, loads of new people in church, great gospel message, life transformation stories and a dozen baptisms. It’s why we do what we do. 

 

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly [‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬]