Friday, October 10, 2008

Some things are Just More Important

I'm currently sitting at my kitchen table, listening to my wife talk to her mother, with the faint sound of my three-year-old in the distance, playing with his grandfather. And as I sit here about to write something I've honestly thought of writing for some time now, God is confirming in my heart that what I'm about to write is probably long past-due.

It's time to take a break--a long, long break--from the blogosphere.

Honestly, I've thoroughly enjoyed being able to express my thoughts through this site for over three years. But recently, several things are coalescing in my life that confirm to me that it is time to stop blogging.

1. My Family. I have a wife and two boys that I don't deserve, and spending time here is, I am convinced, time that I've taken away from them. Next year will also be a year for limiting travel, because I have become convinced over the past few months that if I don't make these adjustments, I'm going to miss the most crucial years of my son's lives.

2. My Association. While its been great to hear from many locals in my own area, in the end, I'm not sure my writing here has done very much to help the 53 churches I am privileged to serve. Since they are my primary callling, as well as my primary means of making a living, I owe them some of the time I've spent here.

3. My Life. It just seems as though life has sped up in an almost uncontrollable way the past two years. Over the next couple of months, I'l be adding some additional study/professional development to my agenda as well as another writing project that I anticipate being ready by 2010.

With all this in view, some things simply had to go. Actually, a few things had to go, this being one of them.

The site will remain open. It just won't be very active. It's been great to meet so many wonderful people through this venue. But frankly, some things are simply more important right now. There are plenty of others out there more eloquent than I who will continue to keep the blogosphere busy, and occassionally, I'll check them out and keep myself informed. To those who have read my stuff, its an honor that you considered my words worthy of your time. God willing, as I establish some new life boundaries and "re-set" my priorities according to my gifts, He will continue to encourage and equip others through my work. There is no higher honor than this.

Thanks again for reading!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

What Associations were Meant to Be

I have to confess that often I feel a bit strange in my current role as a Director of Missions. I love what I do, mind you. Its just that at one time, I considered Associations to be among the most useless institutions on planet earth...right up there with congress and those TSA guys at the airport.

In fairness, I admit that my strong bias against associations were based largely in negative experiences I had with them early in my ministry. And in truth, some of those perceptions were real, and regrettably, still are in some areas. The charge that the Association is a denominational dinosaur, and the Director is usually nothing more than a washed-out pastor is, as much as I hate to admit, true to a large extent in many areas of the country.

At the same time, two men over the past seven years have convinced me that if its done right, the Association still has the potential to produce a Kingdom synergy unparalleled anywhere else. Churches working together, leveraging their collective influence to extend the reign of Christ in our world is a wonder to watch, and I've never seen them work together with more effectiveness than when they are utilizing a lean, mean, well-oiled, Kingdom-minded Association to do it. The first of these men, Ron Davis, gave me a vision of what the association could be. The second man, my predecessor, demonstrated what it could be by building the association I now lead into a missionally-driven, local church centered entity.

Others have also been "shining lights" in this area, including Mike Day of the Mid-South Association in Memphis and Doyle Braden of Orange County Association, where Saddleback holds its associational membership.

But tonight, I want to talk about the association that I'm currenly the most familiar with; the one I am privileged to lead. While we haven't yet "arrived," I believe we are currently on a trajectory that will end with our being the kind of networking, synergistic, missional organization our churches both need and deserve. The following video was played publicly for the first time today at our annual meeting. It highlights what God has been doing in our midst, and how our association has played a role in His work. In short, this video represents our move toward what Associations were meant to be. Enjoy!