That Friday Feeling

It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming. That’s definitely a good Friday feeling. For me, everything flows from a Sunday, through the week, to the next Sunday. Our corporate worship is very important and we want to come prepared for a great day in Gods House. We work hard to make sure that the experience people have when they come to Xcel is a great one, whether it’s for the first time or the thousandth time.

Friday is about preparation. Often that means finalising messages that will be preached on Sunday. The run for a service is done on a Thursday but final checks can be done today. Everything gets printed off. Service boxes readied for the volunteers on Sunday. We are improving communications all the time but I hope that most of the time we get it right.

Friday is about Planet Youth. Tonight we relaunch after the summer break. It’s a PY United Night, all the 11-17s together. The team are busy with the finishing touches, not just for tonight but for what we believe is going to be a season of growth in PY. We desperately want to see more young people connect with Jesus. Please pray for the team.

It’s been another full week in the office. I was asked by someone today if I was busy. The answer is yes. There’s always things to do. The list never really gets any shorter. We are just wanting to see a whole load of people become Christians. I love doing what I do. I don’t know if I’m any good at it but I’m working every day to get better at it. There is so much to my role that I am not qualified for (maybe should not have said that), but I hope you know what I mean. I love God. I love my Saviour. I love local church. I love just being able to help make it all happen. I’ve only ever done what was in front of me to do and that will be my philosophy until the day I die.

Next week will be the same, but different. Can’t wait.

A Day Off?

I don’t get up as early as some but I do like to try and grab 10 minutes to pray before the kids are up and about. I have kept a journal of prayers for just over 2 years. It’s great to be able to look back and see what God has done. It might not be a day in the office but this part of my daily routine doesn’t stop.

Wednesday is usually a more restful day. A chance to do some of the household stuff like cleaning the house and putting some washing on. Contrary to popular belief angels don’t come and do that, which I think is a shame. Most Wednesdays I will do a bit of reading. I always have a pile of books on the shelf. Also I’ll do some writing too. This goal I set myself of blogging every day throughout September is challenging but a good discipline. I have a desire to write a book, so all this is just the practice.

If I’m preaching on Sunday I will take some time for study, gathering thoughts and ideas for the message. I don’t know how others put a preach together but I am slow burner on ideas. I am pretty much always making some notes, collecting illustrations and stories, ready for use in the future.

Even on a day off I did call into the office briefly to pick up the papers for the Grace Series I was working on yesterday so I could do my best to them finished off at home.

Church never stops. Tonight was Girls of Xcel. Whether you were there or not the top secret news was about the change of its name to DAUGHTERS and fresh, exciting future for the women’s ministry within Xcel Church.

Don’t forget that in the morning we are praying between 7-8AM. If you can join as the Centre that would be great, otherwise why not just pray at home. As a team we are coming together, praying and fasting every Thursday, We believing to see some healing and miracles.

A Full Tuesday

Today I had a few things I wanted to get completed…

The next preaching series. Every month those of who are involved in preaching across Xcel get together to discuss upcoming themes. We share scriptures, ideas and resources with the aim of planning what we hope will be a helpful, inspirational and challenging series. After we complete The Jesus Lifestyle we will be heading into a preaching series all about Grace.

Right now we are in the series formation stage. This involves getting everyones input and then creating the journey. The series is actually going to be called ‘GRACE THROUGH THE EYES OF…’ and we will use Bible characters to help display the many facets of God’s amazing grace. The journey will take us from Old to New Testament, to see the ever present thread of God’s grace, moving to the place of looking at grace through our own eyes and the eyes of the Church.

So today was about getting that together which will obviously help the teaching team. It’s also useful for the Planet Kids and Planet Youth teams as they also teach from the same theme but in their own style.

Almost finished this today.

The Xcel Future Leaders programme [XFL]. There’s a whole bunch of admin that goes with this so we are ready for the launch next Monday. We have learned some stuff from last year, so we take the best of that and add to it for this time. I can delegate some of this but the overall design of this years XFL as well as any other short courses we run at Xcel is on my desk.

Catch-ups. One with my Lead Pastor. One with our PAIS team leader. They are up and running and will be in school all day tomorrow. Another with our Youth Pastor who was popping in ahead of the relaunch on Friday night.

Never got to the XFL stuff. Never chatted with PAIS. I forgot about a dental trip for 2 of my daughters so that kind of interfered with the day, which meant leaving the office at about 2pm, doing the school tour, get to dentist, back home and then food shop so we can eat tonight. That stuff moves to Thursday now.

Tonight was CG at Pastor Johns. Good food, great company, a bit of conversation, discussion and then we prayed together too. The team I get to do life with are incredible. So much wisdom, strength, faith, experience, ideas, encouragement and real desire to build the local church and see God’s kingdom established. I don’t want to be anywhere else!

It’s been a FULL day. Just not quite as planned. I love my job and count it a privilege to do what I do.

What Price Success?

I watched Dave Brailsford yesterday morning on BBC news. He is the performance coach for British Cycling and they were asking him how it is that we are seeing such success? His answer was simple…

Talent + Commitment + Coaching

You can have talent but if you don’t have commitment you won’t make it.

You can have commitment but without any talent, it might not be impossible but it will much be harder work.

Add great coaches to the mix – the team that think of every little thing that could possible enhance your performance and you are creating a recipe for success. He made a great statement – ‘If we can improve lots of little things by 1% then when you bunch them altogether, it will make a massive difference’.

Finally have a plan. Where do you want to be? Where are you now? What do you need to do to get there? That’s the plan. Then we work at executing the plan.

I love these thoughts and wonder how they would be played out when it comes to building local church? Maybe the equation would look more like this…

God-given Talent + Willingness to Commit + Holy Spirit + Intentional Development

…what do you think? Can we really afford to miss one of this out if we want to see local church grow, lives changed and the Kingdom of God extended?

Vision Takes Sacrifice

And money.

What ever the vision, there is ALWAYS a cost. Think of ALL those things we take forgranted. Everyday objects. Buildings we admire. People invested in them….TIME, EFFORT & RESOURCES (including money). Some even died for their vision before it was completed.

TIME means sacrificing some of the other things we like to do. Obvious really. It creates space for working on the DREAM. If you won’t give any TIME to it, then IT will never happen.

EFFORT means just that. Blood, sweat and tears. Depending what your vision is….effort means creative thinking, energy, making something happen. Fighting the desire to do nothing and doing something. Effort takes just that, effort. If you won’t give any EFFORT to it, then IT will never happen.

MONEY. Want to lose weight/get fit, going to join the gym, then the vision needs the sacrifice of your money to pay the cost of membership. Money says to vision ‘you can be accomplished’. If you won’t give any MONEY to it, then IT will never happen.

For Xcel Church our vision offering is the opportunity for us as a congregation, the people of God, to make a statement of FAITH and INTENT. That we believe in the vision, want to see it fulfilled and are willing to SACRIFICE for it. TIME & EFFORT though not easy are achievable. MONEY, now that hits harder especially in financially challenging times.

But surely it’s worth it…
Lives changed.
Building church.
Becoming shapers of culture in our community.
Bringers of hope.
Being ‘a city on a hill’.
Displaying the name of Jesus in the right way.
Challenging people’s ideas about Jesus and His church.

As a family we…
…will be giving in FAITH this Sunday
…will be giving with INTENT
…will be giving, praying that God can take what I give and multiply its ability to reach people
…will be giving trusting that God ‘can supply all our needs according to His riches in glory’, that as a family as we ‘seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness, that all the things [to do with living life] will be added to us’

Maybe I’m being too simplistic. Isn’t that just FAITH.

Life as a Pastor…

Had the Connect Group [CG] leaders round last night. They brought loads of food, lots of conversation. We squeezed them in.

Spent a lot of the day putting the final pieces in the CG puzzle as we make some changes to the structure. Change is never easy. It has to be for the right reasons not just because we can. CGs have been a huge success for Xcel this year, growing by nearly 20% in attendance. From our perspective they are how we measure the health of the church. People connecting, doing life together, sharing the journey, caring for one another, encouraging, supporting and praying – it’s priceless. It’s church at its very best.

As we talk vision, it’s important to recognise those things that work in accomplishing that vision. CGs help us do this. As we grow larger, the community of CGs grows in importance. I’ve never been great with names and with new people joining Xcel all the time, I don’t suppose it will get any easier. CGs provide a way for people to belong to Xcel and find their place. To feel, connected.

We are excited about the future of CGs.
Changing the structure will facilitate growth.
Changing the structure will grow those who are part of a CG.
Changing the structure will help us focus on equipping the leaders
, pastoring people on their journey with God. This is a culture shift for many church-goers who only count a visit or prayer from the Pastors as genuine pastoral care. (Doesn’t mean we don’t do this – just in case you were concerned)
Love that the leaders embrace it wholeheartedly. That certainly makes the change easy.

Begs the question why some people who could be part of a CG aren’t. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not a criticism, just a question. We can only encourage everyone to get involved – the choice then is up to you.

[What do you think?]

One Thing

I’m not an overly ambitious person.
I’m a bit like David in Psalm 27…

‘I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.’

What’s your one thing?
I am committed to sticking close to God, learning more, doing whatever I can for Him.
I am committed to growing leaders who can help build the local church.
I am committed to helping facilitate the vision in my Senior Pastors heart for Xcel Church.

Are You Being Church or Just Doing Church?

Ouch! That’s a question.

It’s a challenge question. You don’t have to convince me of where you are…YOU KNOW!! How you respond to the fact you know is probably the most important aspect of a question like this. Is Church a ‘tick’ in a box, an event in your week every Sunday or are you living out the inward change in your day to day actions?

Too many Christians DO Church.
They attend.
They consume.
They arbitrarily decide whether Church is good enough by the songs that were sung, who preached or how loud the music was.
They leave because the Pastor didn’t pray for them.

[Is this too harsh?]

Church is about lifting up the name of Jesus. When we do that He will draw people to Himself.
Church is more than what we do on a Sunday. [Please let it be about more than a Sunday].
It’s about our interaction with OTHERS.
It’s about our influence with OTHERS.
It’s about our being the ‘real deal’ everyday with OTHERS.

What are you doing during the week to be Church?
Who are you reaching out to?
Whose life are you connected with?
What could you do to bring transformation to ANOTHER?
How have you displayed the love that you have for Jesus this week?

It’s a CHALLENGE for me. One I have to accept.
It’s everything we don’t like. Risky. Scary.
It takes everything we think we don’t have. Courage. Faith.
Are you up for it too?
What can you do between Sundays to impact someone’s world?