Monday, August 31, 2015

Be Careful What You Ask For

I am reminded as I study today that I must be very careful what I ask for:

"It is often ignorance that seeks leadership, power, and glory: the brothers do not know what they are asking. To ask to reign with Jesus is to ask to suffer with him; and not only do they not know what they are asking for (cf. 10:37–39; Rom 8:17; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 3:21), they have as yet no clear perceptions of Jesus’ sufferings. To ask for worldly wealth and much honor is often to ask for anxiety, temptation, disappointment, and envy; and in the spiritual arena to ask for great usefulness and reward is often to ask for great suffering (cf. 2 Cor 11:23–33; Col 1:24; Rev 1:9). 'We know not what we ask, when we ask for the glory of wearing the crown, and ask not for grace to bear the cross in our way to it” (Henry).'"

 Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 431). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Post Sabbatical Summary Report

Post Sabbatical Summary Report
Pastors Dean and Rosalie Brown
August 10, 2015

Rosalie and I returned home from our mini sabbatical on August 9, 2015. Of the 28 days were were on sabbatical, we spent 14 study days at the parsonage, 9 study/travel days in New York State and 5 days in New Brunswick, Canada where we studied and attended a family reunion. We rolled up thousands of miles on our Hyundai in the process!

You may be wondering, “What did you do on your mini sabbatical?” Here’s a partial answer to that question:

Studying and Dialoguing
We spent most of our time reading, studying, praying, and dialoguing about ministry and how God will use us to lead you in the years ahead. Topics included the myth of work-life balance, church finances, church relationships, pastoral counseling and care, resolving relational conflict, the necessity of understanding our cultural context so that we can assess the role our church plays in it and how we can better speak the language of our culture so as to win people to Jesus Christ.

One More Person
We held a marathon movie night by watching “Schindler’s List” and were broken for lost people by one of the final scenes in the movie. Oskar Schindler, a German weapons manufacture turned savior of the Jewish people, wept tears of regret, exclaiming, “I could have gotten one more person!” We wondered if, on the Judgment Day, we, too, will cry those same words of regret.

We studied the issues surrounding communication in the local church and learned that systems in an organization break down every time the organization triples in size. Our church is an organization that has more than tripled in size since 2011 and must, therefore, re-engineer its systems or we can expect organizational tensions to result.

Do’s and Don'ts
We studied the functions of a pastor and discerned the “To Do’s” and “Don’t Dos” that must now characterize our ministry.

Intentional Relationships 
We renewed our commitment to develop intentional relationships with those we lead so as to better equip them to serve at their fullest potential.

Schooled by the Holy Spirit
We were schooled by the Holy Spirit on many things, especially on the need to love one another because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4: 8). Ephesians 4: 32 also spoke in clarion tones to us as we set the tone of our ministry in the years to come: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ministry is a Marathon
We embraced the fact that ministry is a marathon and not a sprint and that incorporating silence and solitude into our lives will help keep our energy “topped up” and available to serve the church and our broader community.

Weaknesses and Strengths
We understood (again!) how fallible and weak we are as servants of our King, but that we lead best, not in the exercise of our strengths, but in the embrace and acceptance of our many weaknesses (2 Cor. 12: 9-10).

Whispers of the Spirit
We visited historical military sites in our region and heard the whisper of the Spirit reminding us that even though Satan will wage war against the church (as the British did the Americans in the Revolutionary War), we need not be intimidated by our size because the One who is in us is greater than the one who battles against us (1 John 4: 4). We were inspired by the fact that a small, rag-tag army led by George Washington could defeat an outstandingly-equipped British force much larger in strength and reputation!

Releasing Ministry
We accepted the reality that we cannot be the church’s custodians or building superintendents any longer and will better fulfill our roles as lead/assistant pastors as we release our facility to others who are uniquely gifted for the task.

Agile Programming
We were schooled in the concept of “Agile Programming”, a concept utilized in the software start-up world that helps companies remain flexible and informal as they set and achieve their goals.

Celebration of Progress
We celebrated the progress Vantage Pointe has made in the three years since she launched on Easter Sunday 2012. We visited churches where it was apparent that there had not been a DTP assessment!

Loving and Serving Lost People
We met people that did not know the Lord and yet had a Wesleyan Church in their community. In casual conversation, unsaved people spoke to us of the churches in their community and how they did not know the Wesleyan pastor because he was not out in the community where he could be known. We studied ministerial involvement in the community and resolved to return to one of our strengths as a couple – loving and serving people who do not yet come to Vantage Pointe Church.

Services and Campuses
We gave thought and study to the notion of a second service or a second campus/venue at Vantage Pointe.

Millennial Generation and Ministry
Because we're a growing church, and the millennial generation will play a role in our continued growth, we studied this generation in some detail and began the discovery of how best to reach, serve with and lead this talented group.

Personal Productivity for Ministers
We completed a 300+ page book on productivity while traveling in our car and implemented a complete renovation of our personal management systems so as to better deal with the myriad and growing responsibilities and inputs that rush into our lives on a daily basis.

Support and Sacrifices
While there is so much more we could write about our mini sabbatical, we wish to thank each one who supported us with their prayers, financial gifts, generous hospitality, and love. We’re also indebted to those who served in our place while we were away. We acknowledge that our absence meant more work for you but we’re confident that God will reward you and our church for your sacrifices.