Apr 26, 2010

Proud Dad

Please permit me to brag a little on my first-born son Nathan. He stepped up and tried his first solo in church as part of our children's musical. Way to go buddy! Proud of you for glorifying the Lord Jesus.

Apr 19, 2010

State of the Gospel in the South

This is a short video of David Platt on his view of the state of the gospel in the South. This is a promo of an conference next week in Durham, S.C. I really wish I was going here, but schedule would not allow.

Advance 2010 - What is the state of the church today? from Vintage21 Church on Vimeo.

Apr 16, 2010

Latest Matt Chandler Update

It's been a couple of week since I posted a video update on Chandler. He's continuing to faithfully proclaim the gospel and glorify God through cancer and treatment.

Book Review - "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect"

I recently received a copy of John Maxwell's new book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect for my blog. This is the second book of his that I have had the privilege of reviewing. I have been blessed to have been connected to Dr. Maxwell's teaching since 1994 when I first started receiving InJoy Life Club lessons on cassette. I feel as though I have been personally mentored over the years by him. I know it has grown me and made me a better leader and people person.

When I first heard the title of the book, I thought that this would be a book primarily about public speaking. As a pastor who preaches for a living, I know the valuable art of connecting with people through public speaking. It is a craft that I have gotten better at, but still have a long way to go. This book, however, is not primarily focused on public speaking. Rather, it is more relational in its theme. This book is extremely practical. It needs to be read by about 90% of the people I know. I think Maxwell's theme is very appropriate. While everyone is usually trying to communicate, there are rare few who actually connect with people in such a way to get them to buy into his/her agenda. There are precious few people in our world today who are pouring into people's lives and adding value to them. Maxwell is one of these rare people. If you have ever had the opportunity to hear him speak, you feel as if you have known him for years.

The book is divided into two sections: Connecting Principles and Connecting Practices. The chapters are listed below:
  1. Connecting Increases Your Influence in Every Situation
  2. Connecting Is All About Others
  3. Connecting Goes Beyond Words
  4. Connecting Always Requrires Energy
  5. Connecting Is More Skill Than Natural Talent
  6. Connectors Connect on Common Ground
  7. Connectors Do the Difficult Work of Keeping It Simple
  8. Connectors Create an Experience Everyone Enjoys
  9. Connectors Inspire People
  10. Connectors Live What They Communicate
As I read these chapters, I found myself saying, "I wish I had this book in my early years of ministry." I found too often that my problem was not my communication abilities, but my ability to connect with people, to add value to them, to have them believe that I wanted their best interest that caused me the most problems in ministry. I believe this is true for probably about 75% of ministers that I know. Our problem is usually not doctrine, its connecting. You can be the most biblically accurate expositor around and still lose your message if people don't believe you. Recently, I have seen some around me who are godly people but have shut people out because of the way they communicate with others. As I read the following quote, it opened my eyes to the reality of their situation:
Whatever is inside of you, whether positive or negative, will eventually come out when you are communicating to others. The proverb "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" really is true. That comes across and impacts the way others react to you. People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. That will either enable you to connect with people and win them over, or it will alienate them and cause you to lose them.
Overall, this is a strong book by Maxwell. It's probably one of the best I have read. Like most of his books, it is filled with stories and illustrations. For a communicator like me, it provides a vast amount of illustrations to file. The only weakness of the book is that sometimes the chapters seem a little repetitive. I found myself several times reading a sentence that sounded almost the same as something the author said a few chapters before. I imagine that part of this is due to the simplicity of the subject. How many unique ways can you say, "The key is connecting to people and adding value to them?"

I have already thought of at least two or three ways to use this book to help train others to be better connectors. I have also identified about 3-4 principles that I need to implement in my own life, family, and ministry. If you have to work with people in any capacity, you need to get Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.

Apr 15, 2010

Mid-Week Check In

Hello all. Been a busy week. Now that baseball has begun both at the park and on my tube, I find my time and attention diverted often. The weather the last few weeks has been awesome except for the pollen.
  • The crowd was a little lower this past Sunday than in past weeks. I am not sure why, but I hope Spring Fever and Lake Martin are not affecting us too bad. God has given us some great blessings to enjoy and wired us to need a Sabbath regularly. However, I caution us to make sure that we keep our priority on honoring Christ and his bride on Sundays and pursue our recreational opportunities around that.
  • Although the crowd was smaller, the atmosphere was still great. I saw some more guests with us this week. It appears that most every week we are having some new people on the campus. I am thankful for our Guest Services teams that are stepping up to help people feel welcome.
  • We were also blessed to have Baylie Kizzah share with us in song Sunday morning. She is a very talented young lady with an awesome voice and a heart for God.
  • On Monday and Tuesday, Miles Ward, Bill Young, and I went to McDowell, Kentucky to scout out our mission trip this summer. We are working with God's Appalachian Partnership there. We have selected a couple of homes to do some construction work on. We also have some interesting ministry opportunities at the Distribution Center. Be in prayer for us. We have about 8 spots left that we can fill if you feel led to go.
  • I read a great book this week by John Maxwell that I will post a review on for my blog. I am about to start a book recommended to me by my friend Jason Seales called "The Trellis and the Vine". It's about how pastors approach ministry and creating a culture that truly helps us to make disciples. I am excited about it!
  • I have graciously received an offer to preach for the upcoming City-Wide Evangelistic Services sponsored by the Alexander City Ministerial Association. I am humbled by the offer and look forward to preaching to many in our city on Wednesday, May 19. Please be in prayer for me as I prepare for this opportunity.
  • We will be working hard in the next couple of weeks to fill the Children's Ministry Associate and Receptionist position. Pray for wisdom for the Personnel team as we evaluate the applications.
Verse of the week - "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

Apr 6, 2010

Post-Easter Check-In

I have been extremely convicted lately about my lack of writing to my blog. It has been a very busy set of weeks lately with lots going on. I've been having some great lunches with church members, trying to get us some exciting programs and events, and still trying to find time for sermon planning. Here is a check-in for the past few weeks:
  • Easter Sunday. WOW! What a great day! Besides being the most important day all year for the church, it was special all the way around. I was praying for an attendance of 350 but secretly hoping for more. Our final Sunday AM attendance figure was 387! While I am not always big on numbers, I am thankful that God rewarded the faithfulness of Sixth Street members to pray and invite.
  • Guest Services on Easter Sunday. WOW! Robert Forbus has taken the ball and done an awesome job of leading our efforts out front. With all the additional people, there were still lots of parking spaces available. The guys in the lot with the vests looked great. The ushers and other personnel with their new nametags and lanyards looked awesome. People were taken to seats. All in all it created a great environment from the parking lot to the pew.
  • Easter Egg Hunt. WOW! We had a great attendance at our Easter Egg Hunt. The kids had lots of games to play and everyone left with a basket full of eggs. It was a blessing to be able to have another event out on our Airport Drive property. Thanks to Eric Miller and the Children's Ministry Team for pulling this event off.
  • I am really enjoying the new series "Unveiling Easter". It has been a real blessing to dig into the events surrounding the Passion Week and see Christ's sovereignty and steadfastness to the cross.
  • We have been blessed to have a lot of visitors the past couple of weeks. We have to do a better job of getting info and follow-up. However, it is nice to hear our church members say, "There were a lot of people there I didn't know." Keep doing it Lord!
  • Baseball has started in our family. We have two playing and we are loving it! I was blessed to be asked to say the prayer at the Opening Day ceremony. Thanks to Sonny Wilson for the invitation.
  • I will be traveling to Kentucky next week with Miles Ward and Bill Young for a scouting trip for our summer mission trip there. Looking forward to seeing what types of ministry opportunities we will have there.
  • Plan to be at our Family Life Meeting Sunday night. I have a vision to introduce for adoption that will clarify our core values and our mission statement. I will have copies available for you to pick up Sunday morning.
  • I am convinced and convicted that the two most vital areas we need to address soon is developing Community Groups and increasing the quantity and quality of our Children's Ministry programming. For us to become better at reaching our children will require all of us to stack hands and be a part. Please be in prayer for our leadership as we make decisions that will help us out in these vital areas.
  • Finally, Spring is here. Baseball has started. The boats are out on the lake. However, don't let Spring Fever keep you from your church attendance. Remember to keep your relationship with Christ and his Bride a high priority and set an example for your children.
See You Sunday!

Apr 1, 2010

Worthy is the Lamb!