Church At Chelsea Park


What a ride the last several days have been in the Hill household.  Tomorrow is Jill’s Birthday!! Yesterday, Union was told who their new pastor is going to be and last Thursday we found out where we are going.  Life as a UM Pastor is an adventure.  For those who do not know, our new appointment is Flint Hill UMC in Alexander City, Alabama and we are looking forward to the opportunities that God will present in this new appointment.

This morning begins the process of winding things down at Union, packing our house, filling out the change of address cards, and preparing for the “Moving Yard Sale” (which by the way will be Saturday May 4th.  Mark your calendars for some great buys).  It also marks the beginning of the reality of the move setting in and the shedding of some tears.

We have truly loved our time at Union.  You are great people who have come to mean so much to our family and we thank you for all your prayers, support, and love you have shared with us.  Our three youngest children only know one church at this point and it’s Union.  Union will always have a special place in their hearts as well as ours and you will remain in our prayers.  Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor and share the Word of God each and every Sunday.  Thank you for including me as you said your wedding vows.  Thank you for the privilege of saying the final words at your loved ones funeral and grieving their loss with you.  Thank you for the blessing of being able to baptize your children and to welcome you to family of Christ.  Thank you for sharing Holy Communion and breaking bread with you.  Thank you for the laughter, the food, the car shows, the movie nights, the butt sales and again the Love.

I don’t have any doubt that you will love and care for Zach and his family as you have done mine.  Please now begin praying for them as earnestly as you have the Hill’s and for God’s continued blessing on Union.  I’ve said it all along and I still say it…“God is not through with Union!”


Pastor John

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Add Growth or To Multiply?

Leaders who develop followers grow their organization only one person at a time but the leaders who develop leaders multiply their growth.  The reason is for every leader they develop, they also receive all of that leaders followers.  Add 10 followers and you have the power of 10 people.  Add 10 leaders and you have the power of ten leaders times all the followers and leaders they influence.

Paul was the master of explosive growth.  His strategy is as effective today as it was 2000 years ago.  What did Paul do?

1.  Attracted and Equipped People

No longer can we depend on the things we’ve always been doing to keep attracting people.  Today’s person (men, women and youth) have different interest, struggles, and positions in life.  To attract them, we must engage their interest, struggles and positions in life.  If we don’t, we will never have the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

We must also equip people to do Kingdom ministry.  This can take many forms.  How would you go about equipping someone in your group to be tomorrows leader?

2.  Found and Mentored Emerging Leaders

Union’s future leaders are in our church today.  It’s part of our job as current leaders to find them and prepare them for when we hand off our positions of leadership to them.  Too often this has been done without any mentoring and it has often been met with diastorous result. We must be intentional about mentoring our next leaders.

3.  Created New Organizations

Paul didn’t hoard the leaders he developed.  He sent them out to multiply.  What does this look like in at Union?  Developing new small groups.  I’m so excited that we now have 3 womens groups meeting: The UMW circle that meets on Thursdays, The LNO Group meeting at the Mexican Resturant for our 20′s-40′s age group, and the Healing Hearts group.  The men are meeting in huddles now,  a Bible study, and the monthly men’s breakfast.  All these groups encompass different people.  We can no longer have the idea that we can make a group where one size fits all.

Have you ever wondered why in Chelsea we have a McDonalds, Burger King, What a Burger and they are now building a Wendy’s?  After all, they all serve hamburgers?  Because people have different tastes.  Same is true for small groups within the church.  Same gospel just prepared differently for people with different taste.

4.  Engaged in the On-Going Development of Leaders

We can never stop developing our leaders.  We must begin a culture of expectation that leaders are continually growing and developing.  What does this mean?  Having classes, workshops, retreats and seminars specifically purposed in giving our leaders tools and resources they need to succeed.
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Church Leaders

Last night our Bible study took a look at 1 Peter 5:1-4 and discovered some great leadership advice.  It’s important that leaders within the church are worthy of being followed.  Here’s what a leader is called to be according to Peter:

1.  A MINISTER:  They are to shepherd their flock.  This includes feeding, grooming, and protecting from things that would destroy them.

2.  A MENTOR:  Not lording over people but investing in the flock with your time, energy, skills.  One of our jobs as leader is to replace ourselves and by mentoring others, we are preparing them to be the future leaders.

3.  A MANAGER:  Having over site of those who have been entrusted to our care.

4.  A MODEL:  Be an example of someone who is growing in their faith.  Leaders are those who can demonstrate how to live.

We’ve all seen people in leadership positions who have failed at one or more of these and when that happens it can be catastrophic to the organization.  I’m not saying our leaders are perfect at these, but they must first recognize this is what a leader is and growing daily in these roles.

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The Important Invitation

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” -1 Chronicles 29:11 (NRSV Translation)

This verse is part of King David’s ongoing acknowledgement of God’s great works in the world. It is a beautiful passage of praise and thanksgiving that comes from David’s joy in laying the financial foundation that will be used by his son Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem. David lifts up this blessing to God, telling the almighty that “all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours.” We say that a lot, don’t we? We repeat that mantra, that all good things, all blessings, everything comes from God. In fact, I just said it a minute ago before the offertory. The question for us this morning is, do we believe that? Do we believe that everything we have, all our possessions, all our stuff, all our money, really belongs to God? And if you do indeed truly believe that, the next question is, does your life reflect that belief?

Whether you realize it or not, you probably DO believe that God can make a difference in your finances. I would argue that MOST people really do believe that God can affect that financial future, the problem is that most people don’t live into that belief until their finances are in shambles. It’s only when the bottom drops out and our finances are in ruins that we find out we really DO believe this. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard and experienced this prayer in my brief time as minister:
“Dear God, my house is in foreclosure, I’m filing for bankruptcy, I spent my 401K, I am in midst of the worst financial hardship I’ve ever experienced. God, I need your help. I want to give you my life, everything I have, my whole life.”

To which God responds, “But you don’t have ANYTHING. Where were you 6 months ago when you had something to give?”

God doesn’t really respond that way, thankfully. But the question becomes, if you believe that God can have a hand in your finances at rock bottom, wouldn’t it make sense to invite him into your finances now, when things are good (or okay, or at least not ridiculously, terrible)? What is the point of waiting? Because God doesn’t force his way into your bank account or your wallet. You can make sure that God is never involved in your financial future, but I will bet that at some point in time you’re going to ask him in. How about now?
God wants to be invited.

But there is a risk when we invite God into our finances. I use that word invitation with great purpose. When we acknowledge that all things come from God and ultimately belong to God, when we INVITE him into our finances, there is some change that is required. It’s like any other invitation. What do we do as a church when a guest comes in? We do our very best to make them feel comfortable and welcome. I like to think we put the guest before the member here at Morningstar. And I imagine the same is true at your house when you welcome a guest for dinner or stay with you. We re-orient the way that we think and we put the guest first.
In our house, I’ll straighten up before a guest arrives. Then Denise will come behind me and re-straighten all the stuff I thought I had straightened. We plan meals and buy better food than we normally eat. We ask if they need anything? Can I get you something to drink? Are you comfortable? And we’re trying to teach our daughter Maggie how to treat guests. She’s still learning. When someone comes over, they get to choose the game we play or the movie we watch. The guest gets to choose!

And it’s the same when we invite God into our financial lives. It’s God’s choice what we’re going to do first. And here is what God chooses. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:31-33 (page 6 in the New Testament).
Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

What is the first thing Christ tells us to do? STRIVE FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The Kingdom comes first. Be generous, help the poor, feed the hungry, take care of the widow, the orphan, the alien, care for the least of these, share the Good news. The whole shebang. That is what God wants when we invite him into our finances. And that might sound selfish, but Jesus adds this promise to the end: When you make the Kingdom of God your priority, He will take care of all your other needs. Clothing, food, drink . . .God will take care of those things. It’s a pretty amazing promise. Andy Stanley says it this way, “Here is God, the creator of the universe, who is willing to lower himself and enter into a symbiotic relationship with you and me. When we invest our lives bringing about the Kingdom of God, God promises to take a vested interest in our well-being.”
Now, here’s dangerous part of making this invitation. There is a reason why God has a vested interest in your well being and will continue to provide you with food, and water and a place to live, so long as the Kingdom is your first priority. When you invite God in, when you place your trust in Him and give generously, you are inviting repeat business. If a restaurant or a business gives good service, what do you do? You go back again and again. God remembers the loyal, the capable, and obedient. When you act out of a spirit of generosity, God will be back with another opportunity to give. But so long as you make the Kingdom your priority.
When you invite God into your finances, when you make His Kingdom your priority, more and more you will find that the obstacle of your fear is no obstacle at all. Because you have something you can trust in more than money, something stronger than your fear.

* Some parts of this devotional were greatly influenced by the preaching and books of Andy Stanley, so much so, that there may be some un-credited portions! Apologies to Pastor Stanley if I butchered or unintentionally took credit for any ideas that were his.

This article was written by Rev. John Mullaney.   John is the Morningstar United  Methodist Church’s pastor, and was appointed to the church in the summer of  2008. John’s passions include preaching, pastoral care, and  creating meaningful times of worship. John and his wife, Denise, who is also a United Methodist minister, have  two daughters, Maggie & Lucie. They live in Chelsea

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Stewardship Article by Ron Schultz

The line was long as people moved toward the altar to leave an offering.
Some put in large , impressive amounts of money. One poor widow stepped forward and gave two small copper coins.  Jesus declared to His followers that the two copper coins from the poor Widow was more than anyone else had given.

Wait a minute! How can two small cooper coins be counted as more than the other offerings? Wouldn’t a check for $500 be counted as more than two copper coins in your offering plate?

Jesus says everyone gave out of their abundance that day except the poor Widow. Everyone gave from a heart that said, “out of all that is  mine I will give this to You God.”  Everyone except the poor Widow. She gave from a heart that said,”all that I have belongs to You God. Take what is Yours and I trust You will take care of me.”

Stewardship is the act of managing faithfully things that belong to someone else. Followers of Jesus believe that everything belongs to God.  When it comes to money, it too belongs to God. We have simply been chosen as stewards to manage varied amounts.

Each week,  many of you wonderful followers of Jesus at Union, the Church at Chelsea Park, demonstrate faithful stewardship. Your faithfulness makes ministry happen in your community and around the world through our system of apportioned connectional giving! I continue to be amazed by your stewardship efforts and the way God takes care of you.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for trusting us to manage things that belong to You. Give us the faith to always put in Your two cents worth. Amen.”

This article was written by Ron Schultz.  Ron is the District Superintendent of the South Central District in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Ron graduated from Emory University, Candler School of Theology in 1983 and received his Juris Doctorate from Birmingham School of Law in 1994.  Ron is married to Robin Schultz and has 4 children.

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20% More?

Studies over several decades asked American families if they were happy. A large majority said No. “What would you need to be happy?” the study asked. The answer was about 20% more in income.

Stop for a second. Are you happy? If not, how much more would you need to be happy? More than 20%… or less?

The studies then did the tacky thing of following up on the surveyed families. They came back to them years later when they now were making at least 20% more — in ‘real’ money, not just due to inflation.

Are they happy now? “No!” What’s wrong? Well, we need 20% more.
It’s somewhat easy to figure this out. Our needs expand as the family grows. We didn’t really “need” this much years ago, but now we do. OK, well, it turns out that our ‘needs’ expand even after the kids move out. It depends on our definition of what are our ‘needs,’ you see.  I need This-and-That. After I get This-and-That, I’m not deeply satisfied because, in the meantime, somebody convinced me I need That-Other-Thing that ‘they’ have.

Psychiatrist Robert Coles, in his dealing with envious patients, wrote:
“Envy comes naturally to us, since we are limited in our distinctive ways, and so others (limited in their own ways) can seem so strong, so lucky, so blessed. We are bombarded so heavily in this secular world with invitations, suggestions, possibilities, and promises that we are bound to feel inadequate in their weighty presence, as we see them given life in others. Hence our wish to be those envied others, our anger that such has not come to pass.”

The happiest people you know are probably not the richest or the most famous or those who pay close attention to what others have or those whose every ‘want’ has been transformed into a ‘need.’ Nor are the happiest people those who pursue happiness — which is the surest way to never know happiness.
Happiness sneaks up on people while they’re doing other things, like caring and serving and enjoying the presence of loved ones or of God’s creation. Happiness is not stalked and trapped; it is welcomed.

 -Mitchell Williams is the Senior Pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Cullman, AL.  Mitchell was raised in Birmingham and spent a lot of time growing up at Camp Sumatanga. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University (Theater) and a Masters of Theology from Southern Methodist University. He and his wife Jodi have two grown sons (Charlie, a Marine Sergeant, and Drew, an engineer) who both married very well and each have a son themselves. Mitchell has pastored for thirty years including nine years at Asbury (Birmingham), six at Aldersgate (Huntsville), and nine at Central (Decatur).


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The Transforming “I Will”

On a clear, cool Fall Sunday morning a young family makes their way to the altar of a local United Methodist Church.  They had been attending the services for three months.   After conversations with the pastor, and prayerful consideration, they made the decision to become members of the congregation.  As they approached the chancel rail of the church the pastor met them with a smile.  He asked them to face the congregation as he introduced them.  Then he asked them to re-affirm their commitment to Christ by remembering their baptism, and promising to be loyal to the the United Methodist Church by doing all in their power to strengthen its ministries. [UMH, page 37-38]  After their re-affirmation of commitment to Christ and the church, they were asked the traditional question that is asked of all who join United Methodist congregations.  “As members of this congregation will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?”  (UMH, page 38)  Their response was the same response every United Methodist has given as they began their discipleship journey.  “I will.” 

Each time a new member makes that commitment in our congregations, we as United Methodists, are challenged to renew our commitment and join their voices with a resounding, “I will.” 

It all begins with the promise:  “…will you faithfully participate in ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness?”  Your response of “I will” is the first step in an incredible Wesleyan journey to fulfill the core purpose of your congregation.  How can each person faithfully fulfill their church’s mission of making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ?  They begin in prayer, and continue by being present in study, worship and fellowship.  They celebrate their giftedness from God by being faithful financial disciples.  They become the hands and feet of Jesus at work in the world, and proclaim the word of God both spoken and lived out in a world that hungers for the love of God.

Conversations about stewardship and giving are viewed by some in the church as taboo.  If giving is mentioned only once or twice a year in a congregation, there is often an admonition that “all we ever do is talk about money” at church. Giving is often viewed as “too personal” to be discussed at length in the church.  By making stewardship and giving a forbidden subject Christians give money a mysterious power outside the bounds of theology.     In essence it is given god-like tendencies.  The truth is that stewardship is more about spiritual growth than financial strength or weakness.  It is time that modern Christians celebrate their role as financial disciples of Jesus.

The celebration of financial disciples begins by establishing a healthy theology of stewardship or giving.  Everything we have comes from God, and living out that giftedness in the world is vital to responsible discipleship.   Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke were both a truth and a challenge.  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Luke 12:34, New International Version]  The treasure that a Christian posesses is a gift from God to be activated in love from the heart.  The theology of giving is best lived out in the church in three ways.  First, as an act of worship.  Both the Old and New Testaments talked about the offering of our gifts in the context of worship.  Most of those vignettes were in the temple, and were clearly acts of corporate worship.  Secondly,  giving is an expression of faith.  Not only does the Christian recognize the generosity of God in the bountiful gifts they receive, but also in the giving of those gifts they faithfully fulfill God’s purpose in the world.  Finally, stewardship and generosity are a spiritual discipline.  It is easy for modern Christians to have a serious disconnect between faith and money.  A healthy theology of giving helps us remember that our stewardship is about spiritual growth.  William Sloane Coffin began a stewardship sermon at Riverside Church in New York City with the following introduction:  “I have not come today to raise money for the church, I am here to remind you who you are.”  Stewardship and giving are not transactional.  Giving should be transformational for the church, for the world, and most of all of the faithful financial disciple of Jesus.  “I Will”,  these two simple words in response to God’s call in our lives can transform our lives, our church, and our world for Christ.

Article written by Rick Owen.

Rick has over 35 years of experience working with churches and non-profit boards. His passion for visioning, strategic ministry planning, functional- and gift-oriented board structures, leadership development, and the creation of cultures of innovation are refreshing in the world of churches and institutions. He is an experienced teacher, preacher and presenter in a variety of settings. He has served as a minister in churches from 15 members to 4,500 members; he has taught philosophy, ethics, Old Testament and New Testament on the college level, and currently works with leaders, boards and pastors as a strategic ministry coach. He has served on a number of church-related and community boards, and is committed to the vision of empowering people to live out their vision and purpose.

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7 Ways Satan Attacks the Church

“Satan certainly loves to disrupt what God’s church is doing,” says Ron Edmondson.

via 7 Ways Satan Attacks the Church.

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Dissension in the Church

 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV

I’ve been around a great many churches in my life and career.  I have found that so many people have been hurt in the church.  In most of these it seems that someone said something, did something, didn’t say something or didn’t do something and this hurt someone else.  The person who is hurt will usually do one of the following:

  • Leave the church
  • Allow their hurt to seep out to others in the congregation

What this does is creates dissension within the walls of the church.  This is very dangerous and is the playground for Satan.  The prince of darkness loves it when Christians begin to quarrel with one another because it takes their focus and the focus of the church and places it on something besides the Great Commission. Thus the warning from Paul to the Philippians, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

Is this really possible?  A church without some sort of dissension seems like the exception to the rule.  However, IT IS POSSIBLE.  How do we get to that point?  Well, Jesus gave us a plan to deal with problems in the church.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” Matthew 18:15-17 The Message

A three-point plan to prevent dissension/arguments/hurt feelings within the church.

  1. Go and tell the person who hurt you or your upset with.
  2. IF he doesn’t listen, take one or two others along and try again.
  3. IF he still won’t listen, tell the church.

In our churches today, there is way too much skipping of the first step.  As pastor, when someone comes to me with a complaint against another congregation member or a staff member, the first thing I ask is, “Have you talked to that person?”  Most often the question is no.

The main reason people get hurt and leave the church is a lack of communication.  Skipping step number 1.  Jesus made this one number 1 and I believe he was a pretty smart man.  If we’re Christian, why do we just jump over the first step when most disagreements can be solved at this point? Let me assure you that anonymous letters, talking with other congregation members or just holding it in and staying hurt or mad will NOT help the situation.

Please, allow me to encourage you to open up that line of communication with everyone in the church.  If you have an issue with something a fellow member, staff or if the pastor has said, not said, done, or not done something, please go to that person with your concerns.  If he/she does not listen, then go Step 2, then if it is not resolved go to Step 3

It seems that someone is always upset with the pastor. It’s okay because the way to avoid that is to try to make everyone happy.  When pastors try to make everyone happy, they lose focus of their true calling from God.  I had one of my pastor mentors tell me, “Don’t spend time worrying about the complaints that have come from someone on behalf of the person who is complaining.  If they won’t talk to you one on one, you’re not going to be able to make changes to their satisfaction and it takes your focus off the important stuff.”

Open up your communication and there WILL BE less dissension in our churches and can you then imagine what God can accomplish for the Kingdom!

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Focusing our Efforts

Derek Jeter

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Over the last several months, the leadership at Union has been asking the following question:  “What do we do well?”  This is a very important question as we are making the next steps in our growth.  But what exactly does this mean?  It means”

  • We are going to determine what we do well.  What is it we are good at?
  • We do we not do well? What are we not good at?
  • We’re going to stop doing the things we don’t do well and
  • We’re going to focus our energy, time, money, efforts, resources on what we already do well and try to take these to the next level of good.

John Maxwell says “Don’t focus on the things your not good at!  Why, because you aren’t any good at them.”

Derrick Jeter is one of the best hitters all time in baseball.  Guess what?  Jeter doesn’t spend any time in the bullpen working on his pitching.  Why?  It’s not what he is good at.  He could spend hours and hours trying to be a good pitcher but never achieve even “good” major league pitching status.  If he were to spend all that time trying to become a pitcher, it would take it’s toll on what he is really good at…hitting.

So many churches today are trying to become good at what they are not good at and they are doing it while sacrificing the ministries they do well.  Instead, churches should be focusing on the ministries they are already good at and taking them to the next level.

Maxwell suggest that we have been taught the following:  Someone who gets an A in math and a C in English should study English more.  Maxwell instead teaches that the student should concentrate and become better in math.  That person has a “Math Mind.”

I’ve also been told if on a scale of 1-10, a person will never be able to increase their skill more than three points.  So, if you are a 6 skill level, you can reach a 9.  However, if you are a 3 skill level in an area, you will never increase more than a 6.

What does all this mean for churches?

  • It could mean cutting out ministries that have been going on for years, but are not productive and are being sustained because we have been doing them for years.
  • It means finding out what your strengths are and weaknesses are.  (these by the way, can be very difficult answers to face.)
  • Taking a look at the churches talents and using them to their fullest potential.
  • It will mean growth.  Both spiritually and physically.
  • It will mean less division because the churches will know what their vision.  (Where there is no VISION, there will be DIVISION)
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This May Step on Some Toes!!

GREAT ARTICLE I read on Christian

My Wife Had a Bad Experience at Chick-fil-A!

Fri, Nov. 25, 2011 Posted: 09:09 AM EDT

I love Chick-Fil-A! (AND love Tim Hawkins song about it)

We eat there at least two or three times a week (not kidding…we’ve actually pushed that number up to 6-7 a few times.)

The food is ALWAYS good, they get the order right nearly every time and their customer service is second to none. It is always clean and no matter how long the line seems to be people are always served as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So, imagine my surprise when my wife came home the other day and, as we were catching each other up on the things that had taken place while we had been apart all morning and afternoon she told me about a bad experience she had at Chick-Fil-A.

I was immediately frustrated! (Any husband would be!) AND…before I knew it I had literally told myself in my mind, “Well, if that’s the way things are going to be then I guess we just won’t be going to Chick-Fil-A anymore, they’ve lost my business.”

TIME OUT!!! How stupid was THAT thought? Seriously, let’s review…
■#1 – They ALWAYS deliver great food!
■#2 – They ALWAYS have friendly people!
■#3 – They ALWAYS have a clean environment!
■#4 – What my wife had experienced was not in line with what normally happens.

(AND…I want to be completely fair to Lucretia, she was NOT saying she would not go back, nor was she angry…she was just telling me about her day and I am the one who became irrational!) :-)

I lost my mind! I was literally going to allow one bad experience with one employee ruin a reputation of excellence that had been consistent for years! (AND…no one knows what was going on in that employees life…she could have had one of the worst days of her life and was trying her best to just hold it together until she could clock out!)

Before you agree with me too quickly…I think there are people who have done the same thing to the church!

It has become quite popular, even in some “Christian” circles, to bash the church for all of the dumb things that she has done.

I have met people since being in ministry for over 20 years that have the same attitude with the church that I almost had with Chick-Fil-A! They will attend, serve, be devoted to a local church for months or even years…and then, all of a sudden…
■Someone didn’t call them when they were out for two weeks.
■Someone said something hurtful to or about them.
■They didn’t like what the preacher said.
■They didn’t like what the youth group was doing.

I could go on and on…but you get the point. There are times when people will allow one thing in the church to trump the decades of ministry and impact that have taken place through that body of believers, and that’s a bit insane.
■Yes, if you stay in a church long enough I promise you that you will see hypocrisy.
■Someone will say something to you or about you that will hurt you.
■Decisions will be made that you do not like.
■There are going to be sermons that make you mad.

When that happens the enemy is going to try his best to convince you to just walk away…because he knows that the first step away from God is usually getting people to step away from the people of God.

Yes, the church, EVERY church, has made some unwise decisions and, in the process have hurt or disappointed people along the way…but let’s know throw the baby out with the bathwater…
■She’s STILL being built by Jesus–that makes her important!
■She’s STILL reaching out to the broken, the forgotten and the poor.
■She’s STILL making a difference that’s going to be seen for eternity.
■She’s STILL GOD’S PLAN for reaching the world.
■She’s STILL necessary for believers! (If church is not necessary then why did Jesus say He would build it, died for it, will one day redeem it and spends so much time in the NT talking to it and about it?”

No, the church is NOT perfect…but neither are you (or me!) So, when we’re tempted to walk away because of the one thing that seems to hurt us or trip us up we should simply ask, “is this consistant with this churches character?”

Stay in a church long enough and you will have a bad experience…but let that push you closer to Jesus as you recognize that HE uses imperfect people in His plan, which means sometimes they get it wrong, and then beg the Lord to teach both them and yourself how to best deal with the situation…because, she’s STILL the church and STILL His bride.

Now…anyone want to go to Chick-Fil-A with me? :-)

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church which has campuses in Anderson, Columbia, Florence, and Greenville, South Carolina. At ten years old, the church averages over 10,000 people across all campuses. You can find Perry online at or on twitter @perrynoble.

Perry Noble
Christian Post Guest Columnist

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Stop Working on Your Weaknesses

This video really focuses on the reasoning for most of the recent changes at Union.  Please take 2 minutes to watch this video.

Perhaps a better question is, “What are you really good at?”

via John Maxwell: Stop Working on Your Weaknesses.

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Changes Happening

Union CCP is having a great many changes happening right now. We are in the process of merging two worship services into one.  As with any change, there are some who are excited about the change and those who are not.  It seems that we either love a change or hate it.

If we love a change, chances are that it falls into one of these categories:

  • We thought of the change to be made. (It was our idea)
  • The change benefits us in a way that we like. ( There can be change that benefits you which you don’t like.)

How do we face, accept and possibly embrace change?  Paul’s letter to the Philippians gives us a clue in chapter 4:4-7.  Paul gives us 3 things:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord!  Our happiness and our joy should come from God.  However we often find it in the things of the world such as our house, spouse, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, money, career, football team, a hobby, car, Justin Bieber (for my daughter) and, well you get the point.  All these things are temporary, they will go away or, change.  The only thing in this life that will never go away or change is God’s love for you.  Find your happiness in the Lord.
  2. Be Gentle, Compassionate, Graceful.  How you treat those who are for a change when you are against it matters as does treating those who are against a change that you are for.  Paul urges us to treat each other with gentleness.  Paul then gives a “warning”  “Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”  This reminds me of my wife telling our three-year old son when he is misbehaving, “Your Dad will be home soon.”  Just a reminder that God sees all.
  3. Don’t Worry, PRAY.  Worry is a useless emotion.  It has never solved anything, never made something happen, never provided relief, never help any situation.  All worry does is give ulcers.  Paul tells us not to worry about anything but to take everything to God in prayer.  Ask Him for everything you need but also remember to THANK Him for all the blessings.  Often we get so busy lifting our needs we forget to say thanks and that does nothing but draw our focus completely on our problems.  There needs to be a balance and that balance is found through remembering all the things in our life that God has done for us.

Change is going to happen in our life.  There’s no getting around it.  How we handle the changes can and should be pleasing to God.  Does the way you handle change please God?

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Just saw the mock-up for Union’s new website design.  It is AWESOME and I can’t wait for it to go live.  Thanks Ginny!!

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Communion Testimony: Jennifer Haselden

3rd quarter of 16th century

Image via Wikipedia

I saw your FB post at Communion Testimony and I just couldn’t help but share this story:

In Feb. 2009 Dad and I went on a 2 1/2 week tour of Israel and the Holy Land with a group from our church. It was the trip of a lifetime! I will never read the bible the same again!  Anyways, one of our last days we were in Jerusalem and got to go to the Upper Room. Obviously the original building that Jesus and the disciples were in for the Last Supper is not there anymore, but it is believed to be rebuilt in the same place. We bought bread and juice and carried it with us most of the day (all the way down the Via Delorosa) just so that we could take Communion together IN the Upper Room.
Our group prayed and sang together and then took communion, and as we were almost finished and I was helping Dad serve, another group came in. (The were hispanic, but I have no idea what nationality they were)  One woman spotted our group taking communion, got very excited and started walking towards us, but her friend grabbed her arm and pulled her back and  kind of gestured to our nametags letting her know that it was just for our group.  I will never forget how the woman’s face dropped in sadness… She definitely understood the significance of where she was and wanted so desperately to participate with us.  I was still holding the bread so I waved really big to her and motioned for her to come over. Her face lit up SO BRIGHT.  She then dragged the Other woman into our group and I served them both communion.  Then THEY grabbed everyone else in their group and we served them all. We couldnt communicate through speech with these people, but we communicated through the sacrament.

The best part :   Since we were leaving, we handed the leftover bread and juice to the group that had already been there when we arrived. They were from Ethiopia, and spoke very little English, but they understood what we were giving them and began to serve their group.
Three groups, as racially and culturallly  different as possible took communion together, with no words exchanged.   The words we did share – those to the hymn “Amazing Grace” – I will NEVER forget walking out the doorway of that room hearing “grace will lead us home ….”

It was such a beautiful representation of what the church and the Body of Christ SHOULD be.

LIFE CHANGING- that’s for sure.

~Jennifer Haselden~

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Irresistible Church

I’m reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Wayne Cordero entitled “The Irresistible Church.”  Cordero is quick to point out that the title of the book implies that a church can become irresistible to people, however, the book is more about becoming a church that’s irresistible to HEAVEN. It’s a book about a “church that heaven can’t help but be deeply involved with, a church where every activity, every plan, and every leadership decision clearly displays God’s heart–a church that He can’t help but bless and use for His eternal purposes.”

Irresistible is defined by Cordero as “alluring, magnetic, relentless in its persuasion.  It can’t be refused.  An incredible strong draw. A banquet that you can’t walk past without tasting its choices fare.”  What does a church that is irresistible look like:

  1. You grow spiritually at this church
  2. You witness a strong sense of mission
  3. You long to go to this church every week
  4. You want to invest in this church for the long haul
  5. You tell others about this church
  6. You relax at this church, knowing it’s a model of growth, not perfection
  7. You are delightfully challenged at this church

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5 Interesting Facts Regarding Union CCP

I’ve been looking at the demographics for a 5 mile radius of Union CCP.  It’s quite interesting and one can gleam a great deal of info when looking at these reports.  Here are 5 things that I thought were interesting:

  1. Current population is 7,888 and expected to grow 16.2% or 1,277 people in the next 5 years.
  2. Average age is 36 years old.
  3. Prefer Contemporary Worship Style and Traditional Worship Music
  4. Very interested in their Spiritual Development
  5. 54% have Moderate or NO Faith Involvement

54% of the population that has none or moderate faith involvement. That’s close to 4000 people within a five-mile radius.  These are members of our community who do not go to church at all or those who go once or twice a year (Christmas/Easter/Mothers Day).

This past Sunday, the title of my sermon was “Why Go to Church” and the scripture was taken from Hebrews 10.  The sermon stressed the need for a community of faith, how we need each other, how God works through others to encourage/spur on/and hold one another accountable.  I cannot imagine going through some of the struggles in life I have been through without a church family.

The truth is…according to these numbers, there are almost 4000 people around Union who are trying to do life by themselves.

Demographic information was obtained through Percept Group

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Outside the Wall’s

The teachings of Jesus say that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  He was the greatest model of someone being a servant to others.  This is completely contrary to a worldly view where we are taught to put ourselves first.  Becoming inward is something that happens quickly in our personal lives and our churches.

As individuals, it’s a very easy process.  We have an unexpected bill come in and just this once we use our offering to cover it.  Pretty soon we find ourselves not giving any offering and we have become internal. All about me.

Churches can also have this happen. In our church situation, we have come out of huge hole and have gotten our head just above the water.  It would be very easy to direct all of our focus on ourselves.  I don’t want this to happen.  Last Sunday, I challenged our congregation to begin looking and planning as to how we could give of ourselves outside our local church.  We have a budget of $260,000 which essentially pays our bills.  We are not doing what God has called us to do if we relax and just meet this budget!  We must be on a mission to budget for more than just ourselves.  What if we committed to 10% of our yearly budget for missions or is it too much to ask for the church to devote 20% ($52,000.00) of our budget to serve others?  What if we decided we were going to take $26,000.00 and start a food pantry? Or a battered woman shelter? Or provide school uniforms in a 3rd world village so their children could go to school? Or buy $26,000.00 of mosquito netting for people in Africa dying from malaria.  Can you imagine brainstorming on how to use $26,000.00 or 56K to serve others?  I can.  I see it happening and I see Union growing from it.  I know we can do it, so let’s focus our prayers and our efforts to achieve this!!

Our youth have already started doing just this.  They are using their offerings to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I challenge our church to follow their example.

Categories: Church, Church At Chelsea Park, Faith Journey, John Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Church Attendance

I’ve been reading and studying some info regarding why people attend church and why people DON’T attend church.  Here are 3 good article I’ve found that are worth taking time to read:

Stats on Church Attendance and Avoidance (Barna Group)

Why Americans Attend, Skip Church (Christian Post)

Just Why Do Americans Attend Church (Gallop)

If we are going to be serious about outreaching to our community, we must have an understanding of why people go and don’t go to church.

I hope you will let me know what you think about these articles.

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I just counted my calendar and we are 14 weeks into the year 2011.  We are 1/4 of the way through the year and this week is a good time to take a look at our goals for the year whether they be personal, professional, or spiritual.

I was reading an article this morning about visioning goals for church and there were 6 questions presented in the article.  These questions need to be asked but also need to be thought about and answered.  Here they are:

Top 6 Vision Questions

What can we do better than 10,000 other churches?
What are we ultimately supposed to be doing? (mission as missional mandate)
Why do we do what we do? (values as missional motives)
How do we do what we do? (strategy as missional map)
When are we successful? (measures as missional life-marks)
Where is God taking us? (vision proper as missional mountaintop + milestones)

If we can answer these questions (and everyone in the church knows the answers) then we are on the path to success in the completion of our vision.  Take a moment and gives some thought to these questions as to their relation to Union.

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