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8 Reasons for Your Pastor to Take Good Vacations

Marty and I just returned from a wonderful vacation to Maine. On this get-away from intense transitional ministry, I found rest, encouragement and spiritual renewal, so I thought I would share with you some reasons why you need to make sure your next pastor plans good vacations.
Pastoral ministry is more difficult than ever and constantly giving yourself to shepherd your sheep is draining. Your pastor needs to come apart before he falls apart. Burn out comes too easily to those in life and ministry who do not take intentional time out from ministry.
Like everyone else, your pastor is not super-human and needs times of solitude and sitting at the feet of Jesus. This does not come easily when you have a computer, cell phone and 24/7 availability for everyone all the time. Even Jesus had to get away from the crowd, pray and listen to his Father.
A vacation provides an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. These choice gifts are often ways God gives to have everyday conversations that do not involve discussions about the church but can provide opportunities to have discussions about the Lord and his grace. A vacation can provide those special “divine appointments.”
On this vacation, my wife reminded me to leave my laptop at home. You’ve heard of the phrase “business before pleasure”? A good, intentional vacation can reverse this to “pleasure before business.” And, there’s nothing sinful about that if done on a planned basis.  
Vacations help you to enjoy the little things like the peaceful chirping of birds and the relaxing crash of ocean waves against a rocky coastline. Sometimes it takes a good vacation to better understand and appreciate the peace of God that cannot be understood in the day-to-day grind of church stuff.
A good vacation can help provide healing from illness when rest and relaxation is observed. I can say that’s what happened to me these past few days. Many times, a pastor can need healing even if he doesn’t realize what he needs.
Time away from the work of ministry can also provide the opportunity to read a good book for personal enjoyment and enrichment. Pastors too often read just for church business   On my vacation, I picked out a very good book from our church library by Chuck Swindoll titled, Paul. It’s the story of the Apostle Paul and God has blessed me through reading it by renewing and encouraging me in my life and ministry.
And, did you know that a good vacation can help strengthen the relationship between your pastor and his wife and children? It gives him time and opportunities to share his heart and life with those he loves, and pray with them. This is something that gets too easily crowded out by daily ministry and meetings.
I’m sure there are other reasons to make your next pastor take adequate time away from church ministry, so why not plan now on helping your next pastor take good vacations.
#BMBC #vacation #rest #renewal #encouragement #ministry

If Our Church is to Grow

I’m always pondering the question, “What will it take for Buhler MB to grow?” I ask that question because our community of Buhler has many people who either do not yet know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord or who are an active part of a local church. Let’s call it about 400 or more people. That’s our home mission field.
Here are a few thoughts that mull around in my brain and heart.
Buhler MB has the potential to reach many more people with the gospel of Jesus. We’ve got the resources, the people, the money and many have the desire. But so often it’s like we have a rich oil reserve right under our property that is not being drilled. We tend to sit on the resources that God has given to us without accessing or using them. Prayer is the well that taps into our “reserves” and we need to use that God-given resource to drill deep into what he has already provided. I believe we pray but just not enough or use fervent intercession for the lost and for our community. Every believer can be a prayer catalyst at BMBC.
For us to grow we need to be trained to reach out from our comfort zone and reach into the hearts of people around us. I think of our many short-term missionaries that we are blessed to send out to other countries or states. We praise God for helping us to be a sending church, but do we need to be as eager to send people across their living rooms or home town streets. As Ephesians 4: 12-14 says, we need to be equipped by the church and empowered by the Spirit of God to just go and use whatever spiritual gifts we have to win the lost and welcome the hurting.
We also need to remove the obstacles to growth that have grown like weeds in our church. Look around and see hindrances to growth such as untrained ministry team leaders and using old ways of doing ministry when new methods are required to reach new people and new generations. We need new and better communication methods rather than continuing to try old ways. It didn’t take me long to discover that BMBC has been trying to serve our church and community with a phone system older than a decade and a website that is years old in format with little updating. We also need an updated system to reach out to our visitors and guests.
God wants his church to equip and empower leaders. So, how are we doing with that. The Lord of the church has given leaders to each church, but many need to be asked, trained, coached and encouraged to lead through a church-wide leadership development process. That’s lost somewhere in our church business, but it can be found. Underneath that, are we as a church hindered from growth by not having a clear pathway for every ministry to make and multiply disciples of Jesus? The good news is we have a Renewal Team that is starting to develop one.
Maybe you have some other ideas on how to remove obstacles to numerical and spiritual growth in the church. Please share them. The church works best when it works in unity as we strengthen and encourage one another. Go for it, Buhler MB!
#BMBC #church growth #empowering leadership

Boasting in the Lord

I was born and raised in Texas. Of the many traits of Texans both good and bad, one that most people know about is that true Texans love to boast – we call it “braggin’ rights.”
However, when I was born again and became a believer and follower of Jesus at the age of 19, I soon learned about the truth of Jeremiah 9:24 – “…but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
So, allow me to boast in the Lord about our church, Buhler MB.
I am so proud of our SOAR Mission Team. They did good in Vancouver, for the Lord. And, they represented our Lord and our church well. The team beautifully shared the love of Jesus and planted many seeds of the gospel in a spiritually needy mission field. The harvest will come! The team’s report last Sunday was so encouraging and I believe it built up our church and gave glory to God. Don’t you agree?
I am proud of the hard work of the Ministry teams that I am training and coaching: The Council, the Renewal Team, the new Communication Team and the Constitution Revision Team. Prayers of dependence on God and wisdom are heard often in the teams. The teams are spending many hours working on helping BMBC heal, grow and learn as one body, and people in the congregation are beginning to see the fruit of their labor. To God goes the glory on this one.
I am proud in the Lord that this church is wanting to turn away from the past and begin to look forward with a new hope and optimism. Some struggle with this more than others, but change is happening for the better at BMBC and one-by-one, people are joining hearts and hands to make real renewal happen by the power of God.
I am also proud about how the people who call Buhler MB Church home support and encourage your Interim Pastor. It’s obvious to me that God is working in and through you to help me carry the weight of transitional leadership and ministry. My recent struggle with medical issues and the prayers and encouragement of the church have caused me to boast in the Lord for you.
Finally, at least for this Blog, I boast about our church and how God is at work transforming a hurting, discouraged church into a positive witness in our community of God’s grace, love and peace. We are partners in ministry for a season and for a reason. And, partners stick together to get the work done.
#BMBC #ministry #Lord #church #interim ministry #transition

What Can You See?

What can you see? I’m not talking about looking and seeing something with your eyes. I am talking about vision, and in particular, the vision for our church.
A vision for us at BMBC is a God-given picture of our future if we allow God to have his way with us in Buhler and beyond.
This week the BMBC Renewal Team starting working on a vision from God for our church, and it was a great meeting. I just love it when I can see the Spirit of God working on a church like ours to give us a glimpse into God’s future. And, I wish all who make this church their home in Christ could have watched our Lord at work in the early stages of giving us a God-sized vision for our church through a small working group of people committed to this task.
Here are a few insights into this vision thing that is developing:
First, vision from God is the product of fervent, church-wide prayer. So, let’s take this seriously and seek God together for insights into his will for our church and community.
Second, vision is all about God at the center of all we do as a church. It’s not about us. It’s about Christ at work in and through us.
Third, vision is what gives hope. It also generates excitement about our future as a church in Buhler. A true vision from God is contagious and attractive.
Fourth, vision needs to be pursued with a passion. Forming or using programs of different individuals in the church following their own vision and dream doesn’t work.
Fifth, vision needs to be owned by everyone, and especially by every ministry and ministry team.
Remember, the only way you can see the future as God see it is not by looking backward, or even at the present condition of our church. You have to look forward by faith.
We need the faith that believes with a passion the words of Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Let me close with a definition of church vision by author and church consultant, Dr. George Bullard, Jr., “Vision is a movement of God that is memorable!”
So, what can you see this church looking like by December 31, 2020?
#BMBC #BuhlerMB #vision #prayer #renewal #future

Getting There from Here

How in the world do we get there from here? Good question for a church like us. But maybe we need to first start with another question.
Let’s start with the question, “What and where is ‘there’?”
For our church, Buhler MB Church, the answer is found in our Mission Statement. Simply stated, our Mission is “to glorify Christ by loving God, loving others, and making disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Our mission statement points us to what and where God is calling us to go as a church. It is based on the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Not only is it our assigned mission from God, but it is also our destination, much like you determine your destination on MapQuest or Google Maps.
On our journey “on mission” as a church, we will know when we are getting closer when we become more and more like our destination. When every ministry we do evaluates how it is doing by checking to see if we are getting closer to “there” from “here,” we will be going in the direction that God has given us.
The goal of every ministry will be answered by direction questions: Are we bringing more and more glory to Christ? Are we helping one another love God better? Are we helping one another love others better? Are we making more and more growing disciples of Jesus? Are we depending on and using the God-given power of the Holy Spirit as we go in the direction of our mission?
In getting “there” from “here,” we need to follow the road signs and directions that will guide us in accomplishing our mission from God. We are calling these mileposts and road signs our Core Values. The Renewal Team has worked and prayed hard to identify five values to which we will be committed on our journey. You might say our highway to get to our destination has been determined by the Word of God and prayer. Our directions on where to turn, what to avoid by way of detours and how fast we should go are found on the following core value signs or directions: Worship, Relationships, Service, Sending and Stewardship.
At this stage of our journey, we have prayerfully determined our destination and what will guide us in getting from here to there. Will you and your ministry join us in this journey?
#BMBC #Mission #CoreValues  

Constitution Communication

This Sunday, July 1st, you will have some important information documents in your church mailbox. You will find a short cover letter from me, an explanation of some important facts about our new proposed church Constitution, and the new proposed Constitution.
Once you have read all three documents, you are encouraged to do the following:
  1. Spend time praying for wisdom for yourself and the rest of our church family as we consider the proposed new church Constitution. Pray for an open mind and heart to this important document that has been developed and filtered through our Constitution Revision Team and our Church Council.
  2.  Ask questions and talk about the document with others. Try not to criticize in a negative way. Instead, offer simple suggestions for improvement. But, don’t try to micromanage its contents. Consider instead the direction this document gives to developing By-laws and decisions that will be made to help simplify what we do and how we serve Jesus.
  3.  Discuss the proposed Constitution and your ideas with your Sunday School class or small group. A couple of 10-minute conversations in such group settings can be of big help for building up the church (1 Thes. 5:11-Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing
  4.  Come to the Town Hall meeting on July 22nd prepared to discuss the new Constitution.
If, after the Town Hall discussion on the proposed Constitution the membership desires to have a vote on the direction this new Constitution will take us, we will end the Town Hall meeting and open a short Special Congregational Business Meeting to vote on the following motion presented by the Church Council:
Motion to affirm the direction that is represented by the new constitution as presented. (Please Note: this is not a motion to approve the new Constitution as presented just yet.)
The final constitution and accompanying By-laws will be officially presented for discussion and approval at the Fall Congregational Meeting with lots of opportunities to read and discuss the document. Right now, the Constitution Revision Team and Church Council are looking for affirmation of direction.
If you are unable to get to your church mailbox, please contact the church office and we will be glad to mail you the information on the new proposed church Constitution.
#BMBC #Constitution #townhall

Insights for Living (in a Church Going Through Transition)

From Monday through Wednesday of this week, Marty and I have had the wonderful opportunity to worship, fellowship and learn with 168 other pastors and wives. We gathered at the Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM) annual Summit Conference in Chicago to focus our learning on prayer and preaching. Here are a few select insights from that conference.
Transition between pastors works best when a church is helped in the process by a qualified pastor trained in an intentional interim ministry who serves as a pastor, equipper, ministry coach and encourager. Marty and I are so blessed that you called us to serve with you as your Interim. Thank you for sending us to the IPM Summit Conference, but most of all for praying for us. We believe the church continues on the right track in these important days.
Ministry coaching is vital for ministry success. Both my coach and his wife and one of the men that I coach in ministry and his wife were at the IPM Summit with us. What a blessing and encouragement that was to us. This is a small picture of what can happen at BMBC in every ministry if we multiply disciples and equip ministry and discipleship coaches.
Church-wide prayer is absolutely essential if transitional interim ministry is to work. Every Interim Pastor affirmed this from his experience. Many of the churches that “turned around” during their interim period experience very positive renewal through 40 Days of Prayer or 100 Days of Prayer experience. Several held Concerts of Prayer or corporate times or seasons of prayer. Confession of sin and reconciliation were themes of churches that healed and even grew. We were encouraged to teach and lead our church in worship-based prayer because the purpose of prayer is to bring glory and praise to God. Look for our church-wide prayer ministry to grow to the glory of our Lord.
The stories of Interim Pastors who are just finishing up the transition process encouraged and affirmed us as we help you to focus on the foundations for every church ministry - our mission, core values and vision. This transitional work is essential and, with God’s help and guidance, can make a powerful difference in the future of the church. We heard one testimony of a church of 75 people that is near the calling of their new pastor, and that church just baptized 5 new believers last Sunday. Are they ever excited about their future! Marty and I believe that can happen at BMBC just like it’s happening in churches in transition all over the USA.  
Finally, here’s a few stand-out quotes from our Conference speaker, Daniel Henderson. “Prayerlessness is an indication of our natural independence from God.” “It’s hard to be a critic and an intercessor at the same time. And one from Jim Cymbala, “Our fear should not be that people will leave our church, but that people should stay in our church and remain unchanged.”
#prayer #interim #BMBC #pastor #IPM

My Goals for the Summer

Summer is the time to sit back in an easy chair and relax…or some would say. Well, I wouldn’t say, because for your Interim Pastor there’s important work to be done. Just so you know, here’s some items that I hope to accomplish at BMBC this summer. By the way, I’ll need your help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I have as a goal to help the Constitution Revision Team finish a draft proposal of the revised Constitution of BMBC and get it into the hands of the Church Council for approval so that we can begin discussing it in different church meetings. The church By-laws will be close behind that. It may be too early to vote on this document by August 31st, but I hope it will be ready to openly discuss.
Another goal will be to complete by the end of the summer most job descriptions for leaders of ministries at our church and have them approved by the Church Council. Once approved by the Council, they will be available to church members and used by church leaders. I am working with most ministry leaders to coach them and equip them to outline their ministry duties.
Still another summer goal is to complete a new church website. It’s time to seriously update our on-line presence as a church and make our church website much more usable and readable. We want to use our new website to attract and interest people looking for a church and also qualified applicants who will apply for our Lead Pastor opening when the search process officially begins.
An important goal I have for this summer is to help our Church Council and Renewal Team identify and develop our church Mission Statement and Values Statement. This will also help us to develop a rough draft of a short Vision Statement for the next one to two-years.
Along with these statements, another of my summer goals is to guide the Renewal Team and the Church Council in developing a rough draft of a unique disciple-making process that the Renewal Team will craft just for our church. Eventually, the goal will grow to encompass every ministry of our church as a simple church way to help everyone in our church grow as followers of Jesus Christ.
I’ve saved the best until last. By the end of the summer, my goal is to begin the Pastor Search process with a congregation-approved Pastor Search Committee in place. The Church Council will need to submit a slate of nominees for this very important committee
Please pray with me as we work together on these very important goals. In the end, may the accomplishing of these goals help us to accomplish our mission: “…to glorify Christ by loving God, loving others, and making disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
#BMBC #goals #summer #mission statement #values statement #website #renewal team

Time for a Family Picnic

I’ve been doing some family activities lately. This is, after all, the beginning of the season of family activities such as family vacations, family visits, family picnics, family camping and you name it, family ____________.
Planning our annual church picnic got me thinking today about our church being a family.
We at Buhler MB are a family of God as a local church. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And our heritage as MBers recalls our middle name, “Brethren.” The founding fathers of our branch of the Mennonite tree felt strongly that Mennonite Brethren belongs in our name.
Like families who share the same last name, we belong to this family because we share the name of Jesus and are called children of God our heavenly Father. And, like families on earth, everything we do reflects on the name and reputation of our family and our Father.
Most natural born family members bear a resemblance; so should we as members of the family of God. Fortunately, our Heavenly Father has given us the ability and authority to resemble Jesus because of the power of God the Holy Spirit who lives within each true believer. And God has promised that one day we shall be like Jesus, just as he is.
That leads me to say that because we are members of the Buhler MB church family, we need to live like loving family members.
God commands us to live in love with one another. We are to encourage one another and build each other up. We are to pray together. Our command is to weep with those in our family who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We are to be united as one body with all of us looking always to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.
Yes, there will be times when we may argue and wrestle with our siblings, but we forgive and make peace so that the world may know we belong to Jesus and his family. But we have fun and picnic together.
This summer season, let’s enjoy some great fellowship together as God’s family. Let’s build redemptive relationships. Let’s have fun in the name of Jesus.

I’m Proud of You!

To all the people who make up the Buhler MB church family, I am proud of you! Maybe I should say, “I boast in the Lord about you,” but the idea is the same. Here’s why.
Since you made the courageous decision to call an interim pastor from the outside, many changes have been happening at the church. During these changes, you have been patient with me and with your church leaders. Not many churches can do what you have been doing. Change is hard and at times may even be painful, but you are going through changes in a positive God-honoring way with a growing hope for the future.
For example, you had the courage to call a young man, Michael Beye, to help lead the church in worship. That takes courage and your dreams about the future for the church. The call to hire him was unanimous. You are together in giving him a chance to design and lead blended worship services that most people will like because they will help most everyone to worship.
I’m proud of you for working at positive change. And, positive change is showing up when we gather for worship, small group meetings, Sunday School classes and fellowship over coffee. Most of all, this positive change in the whole church can be seen in the way we have Council, board, committee and team meetings. I saw this again just last week when our new Renewal Team worked as a team, energized by the Holy Spirit, to labor in unity and love for our church and its future. This is happening church-wide.
I’m also proud of you for beginning to laugh together instead of being anxious about what might happen next or looking for the negative rather than watching for God to show up in and through us. When you are joyful, your pastors are joyful.
And, I’m proud of you for once again giving our Buhler community a positive image about us. I’m beginning to hear of people who don’t attend our church who are noticing a people who are cheerful about their church family and ministries. Have you noticed that we even have two new families who have recently started coming to our church.
Let me also mention that we have also seen a Mother’s Day full of encouraging ministry including child dedications, testimonies about God’s saving work, a believers’ baptism, new members joining our church and joyful worship. And, last Sunday we had a special visit from our new biker friends, many of whom made very positive comments about being with us and seeing what the Lord is doing in and through us. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I’m one proud pastor because of you and God’s work in and through you. Keep it up, church!
#BMBC #worship #witness #Buhler #church unity
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