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Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Week

Holy Week (Passion Week) was extremely wonderful but tiring. FamRoyal held our first passion week revival (Tues, Wed, and Thurs). Attendance was great and the people came to have church the entire week by checking stress, frustration, cares, worries, and whatever else at the door to hear the Word and experience God’s presence.

I preached Tuesday night. I preached a message last Sunday entitled “The Gospel Deserves Our Best” out of 2 Timothy 2:8-13. The primary theme of the message is “The gospel still works!” It was still in my spirit and had more needed to be said and I got it out. It was the first time many in attendance have heard me preach but they received me and the message very well. From there it kept going higher, higher, and higher. Wednesday nite Pastor F Demond Harris preached and Thursday Pastor Duane Moore preached. Both blessed us in a mighty way. Thank you to FamRoyal for your love and support as well as a great week of revival that I so desperately needed.

On Good Friday, I shared in service with my brother Pastor Raymond Chandler of Three Oaks Church. Another good service! I was given the assignment to preach on the meaning of Calvary which was a breathe of fresh air from preaching the 7 Last Sayings.

Thought: Lead Me To Calvary
Text: Luke 23:32-33
Theme: Calvary had to happen.

Calvary is a place of Prudence – Jesus was judged at Calvary for our sins
Calvary was a place of Pain – Calvary was know for execution
Calvary was place of Promise – Calvary promises forgiveness and eternal life for all who will accept it.

It was a good week of preaching. Tracy was a trooper and went with me to church each night as I believe we both needed the week of revival together. Thank you for support all week long.

Before preaching on Tuesday, my pastor whispered in my ear; “Preaching is good medicine!” I’ve heard statements similar to this one a many of times over the years but now I know what it means personally. These past few months have been so stressful in my ministry with a decision that I thought (as well as hoped) that I never would have to make. And at times it was difficult organizing sermons and bible study lessons. I’ve had one prayer for the past few months, “Lord, guard my heart of pride and ego and give me peace with those things I don’t understand.” I will admit. I’m still struggling with my understanding and don’t fully have peace but over time God will see me through.

I never wanted a ministry that had to endure storms before God opens the floodgates. But that’s why He’s God and I’m Clint. He knows better than I do about what’s best for my ministry.

Resurrection Sunday was good! However, I’m little hesitant of getting excited about those who attend church on Easter because for many people it is tradition to go to church this day. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see people who visited our church a few weeks ago come back to worship with us yesterday. I believe we planted seed on good soil.

I’m preparing a very special message this coming Lord’s service from one of my favorite passages, Hebrews 6:10. I pray God keeps me focused to complete the work at hand.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Did My Best

On Mondays, I usually reflect on Sunday’s message and ministry opportunity by reading blogs of some of my favorite writers/pastors. Today, I ran across a term that was unfamiliar to me……”mulligan”. A mulligan, in a game, happens when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action. The practice is also sometimes referred to as a "do-over." In golf, a mulligan is a retaken shot on the first tee box, usually due to a previously errant one. Traditionally, mulligans are allowed only on the first tee shot (one per round) and are not just taken at any time of the golfer's choosing. It is sometimes called a "Finnegan" when the second shot is worse than the first. Golf tournaments held for charity may even sell mulligans to collect more money for the charity. Some social golf games also allow one mulligan per nine holes (thus two for a round of 18). I read an article by Jack Connell who is VP and professor of pastor ministry at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York entitled “Ministry Mulligans”. The premise of his article is that of sharing his feelings of having a second chance to do it over again as pastor of 10 years. There are decisions, choices, and ideas that many of us make that we regret, at least I know I do. If I had a chance to do it all over again (these are in no order of importance just things I know I would do differently)…. First, I would not let ministry get in the way of business. There are some business decisions I’ve made with ministry in mind that as cost me in more ways than care to repeat. I’ve learned that I can make a business decision and still maintain a ministry mindset. The church can function as a business entity while maintaining its ministry identity at the same time. I’ve learned this the hard way and unfortunately I cannot go back change it now. Secondly, I will be careful of what I share with others. All of my life I’ve been a loner and usually guarded with information about myself personally and publically. I’ve tried to change that over the years during my pastorate and cultivate relationships that would allow me to open up to others whereby I could develop a confidant with other pastors as it relates to ministry challenges for advice and guidance. I believe I cultivated relationships with some while with others it has been used against me when and where required. In addition, I did not pay close attention to those who said they had my back without any additional qualifying statements. I was also told during my pastorate to go with the goers. However, I did a poor job in identifying goers in my membership and as friends. Thirdly, I will delegate more of the small tasks. I agree with Pastor Connell in his section of the article that members need a pastor and not a CEO, CFO, or anything of that nature. However, in a small church it’s almost next to impossible for a pastor not to carry a CEO title without the responsibility as well as of carrying responsibility. This took me away from that which is most important in pastoral ministry prayer and study of the Word. While God has been gracious to me in my study and pulpit presentation, I could have done so much better. Fourth, I would keep the main thing the main thing. When I first got to the church, our building was in bad shape. There was a whole section of the church that couldn’t be used due to a number of reasons. After our renovation completion, I got so caught up in making sure that the monthly mortgage was paid that evangelism and developing small bible fellowship groups were pushed to the back burner and I started renting to the church out for revenue which became my responsibility for opening/closing the church, running sound system, cleaning up after, etc that I lost total focus and concentration on fulfilling the Great Commission. It won’t happen again! Fifth, I will make sure my family has my attention more than the church. The demands on a small church pastor (especially a bi-vocational pastor) are so great that my family was getting lost in the shuffle of things. No pulpit help meant I had to preach/teach every week resulting in extreme burnout after long hours of work during the week. My wife and kids were given a backseat while ministry took priority. Unfortunately, the truth is if I died today my family would suffer and church would get another pastor. While I would gladly like a ministry mulligan, the truth is I can’t go back and change anything in the past 8 years. While I’ve made many mistakes there has been some good as well. The people of God are trusting the man of God again. We did restore a church where ministry can be performed without hesitation in a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment. We’ve touched many lives that we will never know about through our ministry and through the ministry of Praise Chapel who minister in the small building on the grounds. The Word of God was preached/taught faithfully every week without compromise. I gave 100% of me regardless of attendance. Bottom-line: I DID MY BEST!