Focus & Prayer

It’s been a fantastic day in church. I enjoyed listening to some different voices and hearing how God wants them to live their own individual wide-open spacious life. It’s exciting and a privilege to be let in on the journey that God is taking people on.

And so, now for another week. We make our plans but God ordains the steps.

Another full week is ahead with a variety of things to focus my attention on. As we head towards the biggest weekend in our church calendar focus is the key. We will work like it depends on us but we will pray like it depends on God.

Preparation for Influence Conference is well underway yet the finishing touches always require the greatest effort. I can only encourage you to come and be with us along with our speakers Canon J John, Pastor Ray Bevan and Pastor Simon McIntyre.

Add to that the ongoing conversations about the Xcel 2020 vision and the strategy that goes with it, prayer and team meetings, clarifying details for some short-term mission trips and some general catch ups and other pastoral issues – it’s another full week.

Focus is a key ingredient. Prayer is the essential one. Whatever you are doing this week don’t forget – focus and prayer. Have a great week.

Saturday = Lazy Day

We are no different to your family. We have had a busy week, kids included, so Saturday’s are a great opportunity to pause. Today we had nothing planned and we kept to that plan.

Rest is important. It’s an opportunity to catch up on all the normal household stuff. To hang out as family. To have a laugh together. To support one another as we get on with our work. To chill.

We do try hard to not overdo it on a Saturday so we are ready for Sunday. I always look forward to Church with a sense of expectancy. My prayer is to see lives changed, to see salvations, to see new people in our services. I am expectant for us coming together as church and lifting up the name of Jesus.

This Jesus Lifestyle preaching series is pretty hard hitting and this week is no less strong. How to handle people is a life skill and Jesus spoke very clearly about it. Personally, I like these kind of topics. Don’t get cross with those who are preaching, we are just pointing out how we are supposed to be living according to the words of Jesus.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit to help us to live it.

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.

Getting Things Done

It’s easy to become tunnel-visioned.

It’s important to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. My role is no different. There is a need on some occasions to just get my head down, get stuff sorted and get the information out. I’ve been accused in the past about spending too much time at my desk and not enough time with people. It’s a balance. On one side, I am a Pastor and that could be considered the people focused part of what I do. Yet, on the other side, much of the day-to-day church management is mine to oversee, which is about getting things done.

How does this balance play out?

Protect the Church diary. Someone has to do this. We don’t want it so full of events that people start to resent no free nights without opportunity to be with their own family or hang out with friends. How can we ‘go’ into all the world if we spend all our time at Church? Sometimes I have to say no. Not because I don’t like the event, more to just make sure we use our time wisely.

Help others discover what they can do. This is about being a leader of leaders. It’s about the delegation of tasks that I don’t need to do and keeping hold of the projects that only I can do. It’s not just about passing stuff around but more about helping others see what they are capable of. The only limit we have is the one we often put on ourselves. ‘I can’t’ can be changed. It takes time, encouragement, leading, equipping and sometimes just a good old-fashioned kick up the butt.

More conversations. Face to face catch-ups, both organised and organic. This is how you do the above. It’s time consuming but I probably have anything from 1 to 10 catch-ups each week. Some are intentional and made as an appointment, others are more impromptu. Most of these are with leaders in church, as well as those I am coaching via XFL.

Always look ahead. Occasionally I get called ‘statto’. I am a bit like Rain Man. Definitely. Definitely am. If I don’t know it’s happening then that probably means that it’s not official. A long range vision helps to know what fits and what doesn’t. A long range diary helps protect the diary and to know where people can get involved.

I’m no expert. I am just trying to do the best I can. Hopefully, most of the time I get it right. I am aware that sometimes I get it wrong. For that, I am sorry.

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.

Monday Mornings

They always arrive quicker than you want them to. After a pretty full Sunday in Church that alarm on a Monday can be a shock to the system. Every day can be a ‘make sure the girls are up day’. After all, it’s getting darker and as we head into Autumn and Winter resistance levels to getting up can begin to increase.

Travel through my week with me and discover what I do.

Mondays are a mix of conversations and catch ups.

As a team, we feedback from a Sunday. Stories. Good things. Anything noteworthy. Plus is there anything specific that didn’t go as well as we would like? We do ask the question, was anyone not there? This is important as we want to ensure that people are cared for and maybe there are reasons why they didn’t get to church and there things we can do to help. We also spend some time looking ahead to next week. Is there anything to prepare, something we want to focus on or do differently?

The rest of my day was a mix of agreeing media designs as we upgrade some logo’s, checking the website to see that it remains updated, all of which is about helping ministries get ready for relaunching. Today I also had the wonderful experience which is a Finance Sub-Group Meeting. My job as an Executive Pastor is not all about reading my Bible and praying, although I do that too. Keeping track of income and expenses is vital. I view it that some of the income is what people have given willingly to the vision of Xcel so we must handle that money with care and with integrity.

Before heading home I did some planning and preparation for XFL our Leadership Programme which starts next week. I have to say that this is one of the best parts of my role. Being involved in leadership development satisfies my soul as it definitely flows from the ‘why’ of my life.

Finally, this evening I popped in to the Sunday morning team meeting for Aycliffe as they shared ideas for making the experience people have when they come to Xcel Church even better.

Every day is full and varied, and I love it. Let’s do it all again tomorrow.