These are the 28 Questions that were asked of me by the Bay Area Christian Church, as they consider me for an Associate Minister position.

POTENTIAL STAFF QUESTIONNAIRE 

1.  Please give your views on evangelizing and discipling others.  Do you share the Gospel with others?  Do you think everyone should?

Evangelizing and discipling others is a command of Jesus, and so all must do it, not just those “gifted” … or … “professional ministers.” 

Evangelizing is simply telling others what you know:  how Jesus impacted your life, and how he can impact their life, too.  Of course, if you don’t really know how he has impacted your life, it’s very difficult to share that with others. 

Discipling is simply about teaching them to do what you do:  follow in the way of Jesus Christ.  Of course, if you’re not really following, it’s very difficult to help others follow. 

It is very important that all disciples understand, and are able to relate, how Jesus has impacted their life, and what they are doing now to follow Him closely.  But many of them simply do not know their story – or how to relate it – and I believe this keeps many people from actively spreading the Good News. 

I also believe we tend to think these two things are much more difficult than they really are.  Many Christians have the idea that they are not fit to evangelize because they don’t know enough of the Bible.  The truth is most seekers don’t want to listen to the professional, or the person who “has it all together.”  According to Alcoholics Anonymous, an alcoholic is much more likely to listen to another recovering alcoholic than a doctor or other professional telling them to do the same things.  So it is with most people:  a sinner is much more likely to follow the lead of another “recovering” sinner, rather than a professional.   

Evangelizing and discipling are also activities which benefit the disciple as much as the seeker.  This is not talked about much, but there is no better way for a disciple to “stay the course” than to be helping other people experience the life-changing work of Jesus. 

Yes, I do evangelize others, in this sense of telling them how Jesus has impacted my life.  I have seen some of my efforts bear fruit, but much of it I may never see.  Seeds are planted, but remain hidden until God causes growth.  I am simply a farmer, preparing soil with the tools I have, planting seeds, watering, and watching the miracle as God causes growth! 

My life and my gifts are more dedicated to discipling; to following Christ, and helping others follow Him.  I am a disciple seeking to help others find ways to deepen their own relationship to the Savior.   

2. Give your views on a servant’s heart (your willingness to serve even in menial tasks or without credit).

Servanthood is quite difficult, as even the apostles learned.  Most of us like to be in positions of influence, particularly if we’re called to leadership positions.  As Jesus’ life and teaching illustrated, a servant-leader has a much greater position of influence than those who seek a position to build up their own ego. 

I cannot say that I have never had a problem with servanthood.  I enjoy recognition as much as anyone.  But I have learned that in the Kingdom, even when I have done all He has asked me to do, I am still an unworthy servant, and He is the ultimate supplier of all my abilities and talents.  That knowledge helps to keep my ego in check. 

There was a time in my life that illustrates the impact of the servant, and how, quite often, the servant is a leader.  For a couple of years I served as the part-time custodian to a church and day care center.  How often do we recognize and praise our janitors?  It is a menial, thankless job for the most part.  And I’m not saying I liked it!  It was just a necessary part of what I had to do at the time to make a living.  A lot of my time was spent working late in the evening, when no one else was there.  But part of my work time was during the day when children, staff, and parents were present.    I lost count of the times when I would be approached by a teacher or parent, and they would pour their heart out to the janitor about a problem they were having.  Or a little child would walk up to me, and hug my leg.  Years later, when I became an elder, I often felt that I did more shepherding as a janitor than I did as an elder.  I learned that people willingly talk to the “servants” when they are afraid to open up their hearts to a person in a “leadership” position.  We are much more effective as servants than leaders.   

This can sometimes be a dilemma for church leaders, and it must be constantly attended to, in order to provide true servant-leadership.  We must remember that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.  If we really want to follow him, then we do the same.  We don’t come seeking others to serve us; we come seeking to serve others.    I’m not here to force my way, but to serve the church by helping disciples find the right way to grow into a deeper relationship with Him.  

3.  Give your views on the equipping ministry based on Ephesians 4:11 ff.

Let me start by saying that a healthy body is a body in which each part is doing what it was designed to do; a body that continues to grow, joined and held together by supporting ligaments.  In another letter, Paul makes it clear that every part of the body is important to the healthy functioning of the whole. (1 Cor. 12)   All of this is done under the headship of Jesus Christ, of course.  He is the head of the body, and he puts it together as he chooses. 

The work of church leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) is to prepare God’s people to serve, to come to unity in the faith, and to become mature followers.  It’s important that we who occupy these positions be careful to remember that we are not the Head nor are we the directors.  To use a sports term, we are only the “equipment managers.”  We help God’s people prepare to serve, prepare to grow, prepare to measure up to what it means to be Christ’s body.   

It might even by appropriate for every person in a staff position to commit this verse to memory, and recite it every morning!!!   

4.  State your views on the importance of quality time with your own spouse/children, and how to balance that with church responsibilities.

I learned this lesson the hard way, and will relate more about it in answer to question #14.   

A principle that applies here is laid out by Paul in 1 Tim. 5:8, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  I know that Paul is talking about financial provision, but the principle extends to other areas of our family influence.  Although my children are now grown, I still believe that one of my first callings as a disciple is to disciple my wife and children, and, now, my grandchildren.  Right now, that consists of twenty people; in just two more generations that influence could potentially grow to well over 200 people.  That is larger than many churches, and that underscores the importance of time spent with spouse and children! 

Balance is knowing how to consistently meet the needs of each member of the family and the needs of the church body without neglecting any of them.  For instance, my wife’s “love language” is quality time, particularly quality conversation.  I know that if we spend some amount of time each day in quality conversation, I can spend many hours in ministry without her feeling neglected.  And, as long as church responsibilities are being accomplished successfully, there is no sense of neglect on the church’s part. 

Of course, all employees find it hard to balance family and work.  But most employees have more definite lines drawn between what is work-related and what is family-related.  In a very real sense, a minister is “on-call” 24/7/365.  Anything can happen, at any time, which requires his presence.  He must be able to make the judgment to determine which is going to take precedence at the time.  (And sometimes that requires the Wisdom of Solomon!)  But balance can be achieved by understanding the needs of each organization (family and church) and meeting those needs consistently over time. 

5.  State your views on the importance of a personal devotional and prayer life.

In order to have any life at all, the branches must be connected to the vine.  Personal devotions and prayer time are that connection, and so are vital to the life of each disciple.   

Most days, I am up early for a morning walk, followed by a cup of coffee (or two), and time spent sitting outside for prayer, reflection, and reading the Word.  On bad weather days I find a quiet, indoor place to spend that time.  This is one of the disciplines of my life that is rarely broken.  I am not a strong enough man (nor do I know one who is) to be able to get through the day without connecting to Jesus, the source of all life. 

6.  State your views on the Bible, on baptism, on Spiritual gifts (including tongues).

The Bible is God’s recorded Word, and so provides us with guidance and direction.  But God’s Word is living, active, and being used continually by the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom to apply what we read in the Bible in today’s context.  Because of cultural and language differences between the original texts and today’s translations, we must be careful to rely upon the Holy Spirit to show us the principles and ideas contained in the Scriptures, rather than quibble and quarrel over words and meanings. 

Baptism is an essential element of the believer’s movement from spiritual death to spiritual life.  It is the believer’s submission to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  Paul considered it the immersion of the person into the death of Jesus Christ, and therefore having died with him we are also raised with him to live a new life.  It is complete submission, in that we give ourselves into the total control of another; we show ourselves to be helpless, unable to claim life for ourselves; trusting that only Jesus can raise us from the dead to give us new life.  Peter also says it is the pledge of a good conscience toward God; it is a cleansing that purifies us for God’s presence in our hearts.   

Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to fulfill a particular purpose in a particular person for a particular time.  According to Paul, there are some gifts that we tend to see as more important than others, but all are important when used to support and supply the body. And, it’s important for us to remember that the Spirit gives these gifts as he discerns need within the body. 

Now, concerning speaking in tongues.  Can people have the gift of speaking in tongues, even unintelligible (tongues of angels)?  Certainly.  But, Paul says, a much more useful gift is the gift of prophecy.  The gift of tongues edifies only the speaker.  But the gift of prophecy edifies the church.  Paul says we should excel in gifts that build up the church.  

In our context, I would not allow the speaking of unintelligible tongues in our assemblies.  They would be distracting, and, as Paul says, “If some…unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?”  That is certainly not the result we want to achieve. 

7.  State your views on working under the authority of the Sr. Minister and the Elders.

God has qualified and positioned those who lead his body.  Those who accept membership in that body must submit themselves to that leadership, and believe that those men are directed by Jesus, the Head of the body.   

I have worked under the authority of others all my life, even at churches where there were no elders or a senior minister.  There were still spiritual men who were wise in discerning God’s plans, and I submitted myself to them.   

8.  How often do you expect an evaluation and salary review, as well as accountability of your time, your giving, etc.? 

I would expect an evaluation to happen on an annual basis, at least. However, I really believe that we are under accountability all the time.  I would hope that I would receive regular and consistent feedback.  If problems and challenges are discussed and handled early in their development, resolution and correction is much more likely, with much less difficulty.   

As for a salary review, it would be nice to have one each year, but it is not necessary.   

9.  State your views on the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sex before marriage, divorce and forgiveness of those who have had problems.  How strict should we be in choosing small group leaders and Sunday school teachers regarding their personal lives?    

Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are all potentially addictive and harmful substances.  I believe disciplined followers should avoid tobacco and illicit drugs altogether.  Personally, I see nothing good in either one of them.  The use of drugs generally enters new territory, since it is also illegal, and the Christ-follower should not be involved in illegal activity. 

Used responsibly and in moderation, alcohol is not forbidden.  In the use of alcohol, I do believe all disciples should be aware of how their behavior may potentially affect other believers, and be willing to forego their own desires for the sake of others. 

Sex before marriage is sin.  One of my concerns right now is that many young people – even Christian young people – are falling for the lie that very inappropriate touching and even oral sex are not truly “having sex,” and are therefore okay.  I believe this is something church leaders and parents must decisively define for our young people.  Many people are burying their heads in the sand, and we are already beginning to reap the consequences in damaged young lives.  We know these things are sin, and we need to teach it as such. 

Among believing singles, we more often see the couple who are serious about their relationship, but are drawn to each other sexually before marriage.  I hear them justify it because they are “almost married anyway,” and “this is the only person for me.”  Still, sex before marriage is a sin that damages their relationship.  Proverbs says, “Bread eaten in secret is pleasant…”  To engage in sex before marriage creates an excitement in doing something illicit that cannot then be recreated once the couple is married and sex is legitimate.   

In Malachi, God said, “I hate divorce.”  Jesus said that Moses permitted men to divorce their wives because of the hardness of their hearts.  But from the beginning, that was not what God planned for people.  He intended for a man and a woman to live together for life.  Divorce not only destroys the relationship between a husband and wife, but quite often destroys relationships throughout an entire family:  parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  Particularly, it can affect the lives of children for years to come.  It also becomes a public display of contention as couples enter the court system. 

Now, for those who have struggled with any of these things, repentance and forgiveness is always available.  God will forgive, and so will we.  I believe He expects those who want to follow Him to turn from sinful practices, and live holy lives before Him, and submit to consistent accountability to fellow disciples. 

The personal life of any leader is a critical matter, and should be taken into consideration when placing them in positions of leadership.  But just because someone has failed at some point in their lives in any of these areas (and countless others not mentioned), doesn’t mean they are disqualified from leading a small group or a Sunday school class.  If that were the case, no one would qualify.  If they have experienced the forgiveness of God, have turned their life around, are following Christ, and submitting to accountability, then they are potential leaders for those positions.  Occasionally, however, it takes time to determine these things, and, in some cases, trust must be re-established.  Each case should be determined individually, with input from the staff and elders. 

10.  State your views on integrity—income tax, personal debt, and honesty before God and others.

Personal integrity is one of my written values.  My desire is to be a man of integrity in all things. 

I believe that cheating on income tax, or evading personal debt is not just a crime, or unethical, but is a sin.   Even though it cost us more than we would like, we are obliged to pay taxes to the government.  It is perfectly okay to take advantage of legitimate tax breaks, but to manufacture them is not acceptable.  TurboTax is not foolproof, but I’ve used it for the last several years, and it’s entirely possible that I’ve made some mistakes on my income taxes.  But I have not knowingly defrauded the government of what is due them, and have used all avenues to be as thorough as possible. 

It is also our desire to avoid as much debt as possible.  We have not used credit cards for almost 15 years now, and have no credit card debt.  We do owe for our home, and we have several outstanding medical bills that we’re dealing with.  After Alma was disabled by kidney failure, we voluntarily submitted our Ford Explorer for repossession, and we are paying that off in monthly installments now.  We do know that that is a mark on our credit record.  We do have some “slow pay” on our credit report, also due to Alma’s disability, primarily on medical bills.   

I read a verse in 1 John just this morning that describes how I feel about honesty before God and others.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:16-17)  It is extremely important that we walk in transparency, not only with God, but with each other as well.  Transparency enhances our fellowship with each other, and purifies us from sin. 

11.  What do you believe that it would take for a church in a growing area to get over a plateau of 400 and move on to 500 and beyond?

We must have faith that God can cause growth.  This may not be as easy as it first seems.  We do not cause the church to grow; that is God’s work.  We are only the farmers, the ones who prepare the ground, sow the seed, water the field, and reap the harvest.  That certainly requires work on our part, but it is a much different focus than “growing the church.”  I believe Jesus would tell us to focus on what he commissioned us to do (prepare, plant, water, and reap), and let him worry about the growth.  This is probably not the “corporate” answer, but I believe it’s biblical and truthful.  The farmer who frets about whether or not the seed will grow, and wants to “run out to the field” and dig up the plant to see if it’s growing, is showing a remarkable lack of faith!   

We must pray without ceasing, and open our eyes to the harvest around us.  Jesus told his disciples to look around; the fields were ripe for harvest.  I believe that’s truer today than it has been for the past 50 years.  He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest.”  We need to pray that God would prepare and send harvesters into the field right here in Clear Lake.  We need to equip ourselves and others with the tools to harvest a field that is teeming with people who are searching for answers to spiritual questions. 

We must use our gifts to build up the body of Christ.  Each person must be doing their part within the body, and the leaders must give them the equipment to do the ministry to which they are called.  When the body is healthy, and members are doing what they are called to do, the body moves forward to impact the community, just as Christ did when he was in his physical body.  We are now the physical body of Christ, and, just like him, we should be about the business of telling people that the Kingdom of God is at hand. 

Every disciple must be serious about identifying people who can relate to them and the story of their journey to faith, and share that story openly.  There is no sermon more powerful than the story of one person whose life was impacted by Jesus Christ.  We must each develop our story, and initiate relationships with people who may benefit from our story. 

Maturing disciples need to take seriously their responsibility to become shepherds and mentors to newer followers.  If new followers look only to the Sr. Minister or another staff person to shepherd and mentor them, the church will never grow beyond what the staff can manage.  This is why many churches never grow beyond 150.  I believe small groups are critical to this process.   Whether these groups are formal or informal, the church needs to recognize and support them.  One church I know of in Florida actually ordained these mentors as pastors, enabling them to visit hospitals as a pastor, perform marriages, etc.  The staff and elders mentored these small group pastors, who, in turn, mentored and ministered to others.  Regardless of how it’s done, it’s critically important to raise up capable, spiritual leaders who can provide shepherding to smaller groups within the church, freeing the staff and elders to focus on the broader work of reaching the city for the Kingdom.

12.  How many hours per week do you believe a minister should work? 

When I worked in full-time ministry, I worked a minimum of a 40-hour week, usually more, as needs came up.  It’s not at all unusual to work a 50-hour week, being involved in visiting, counseling, meetings, etc.   I’m really more focused on accomplishing what needs to be accomplished, rather than the amount of hours worked.  Some weeks may require more than 40 hours, sometimes less.  I am not one to insist upon no more than a 40-hour workweek.  I want the job to be done well, and I will balance that with the needs of my family and myself. 

13.  List your strengths and best successes.                        

My strengths: 

I am a calm, steady person, even in stressful situations.                                   

I listen with empathy.                                   

I find the good in others, and encourage them to grow in their pursuits.                                   

I am very organized, and excel at time management and project management.                                   

I believe my greatest strength is that I have a shepherd’s heart. 

My greatest successes: 

A marriage that has lasted 20 years, and grows stronger every day.  Second marriages fail at a much greater rate than first marriages, but we made the decision to be guided by God, and committed ourselves to that end. 

Of our six children, Toni (Alma’s daughter) and Tabitha (my daughter) were the only two who lived with us growing up, and were strongly influenced by us.  They are also the only two who are living in a consistent walk with the Lord, and are raising faithful children.  Toni and I have an intimate father-daughter relationship, which I cherish, and which is very rare in step-parenting.  (On the other four, see my worst failures).

My selection to serve as an elder, serving for almost six years, and leading that group of men for most of that time.  This was the culmination of a desire that developed within me from the time I was about 25 years old.   

All these things are very humbling to me, because I know they were only accomplished by God’s hand.  I really cannot take credit for them. 

14.  List your weaknesses and worst failures.  What have you learned from them?

My weaknesses: 

At times, I am too non-confrontational.  Although I can and do confront when necessary, I often wait too long. 

I tend to see people’s good intentions, and dismiss bad decisions by recognizing good intentions.  I have learned that correction may be necessary, even though intentions are good. 

I quickly see the “big picture” of what I, or others, want to accomplish, but can get bogged down in the details of putting it together.  I have learned to manage this deficiency through organization and time management techniques. 

I am often reserved, and some people find it hard to get to know me intimately.  This is something I continually work on, and – thankfully – I have a wonderful wife who is quite outgoing and friendly.  She is my teacher in this area of my life! 

My worst failures: 

My worst failure is in regard to my family:  my first wife, two of my children, and two of my step-children.  I married Cristi, my first wife, when she was 17 and I was 20.  Immediately, we left our families and moved 500 miles away so that I could pursue my work, first as a radio broadcaster, and then, several years later, as a minister.

My work soon became my “mistress.”  I neglected my wife, spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on my “work,” and she learned to neglect me, too.  I found fulfillment in my work; she found fulfillment in our children.  Then, after ten years of marriage, I did the unthinkable:  I committed adultery.  I confessed the sin to Cristi, and to the church, and we moved to Houston to be with a respected couple here who, I hoped, could help us recover and heal; not just from the adultery, but from the years of neglect and incorrect focus.  Cristi chose not to recover from the betrayal, and, after about six months, she left with the children, and returned to New Mexico to live with her parents.  She asked me to file for divorce, which I did.  That was the lowest point of my life, and I felt that I had only myself to blame.  Of course, that is never true of any marriage, but after committing adultery, I took the blame on myself. 

Two of my children continue to suffer the consequence of not having a dad around very much during their growing up years.  Of course, we love each other, we talk often, but I have no real influence on their choices in life. 

One of the prayers of my heart, as the shepherd of my family, is to bring all my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren to the throne of God with me, spotless and holy.  It hurts to know that I may not accomplish that task. 

What did I learn?    

I learned that unfaithfulness is much deeper than adultery.  We had been unfaithful to each other for years, because we allowed other things (work, children) to separate us from a healthy relationship with each other.   

I learned that even working for the church is no excuse for neglecting my responsibilities as a husband and father.   

I learned how vulnerable I am to sin, and so I must be absolutely transparent with my wife, and at least a couple of other men, who are my accountability partners.   

I learned how deceptive and terrible sin can be, even though it looks so enticing. 

I learned that momentary pleasure produces a lifetime of pain, not only for me, but for others, perhaps for generations to come.   

I learned from personal experience why God hates divorce.   

I learned that God forgives, and if a person turns from sin, he can and will use them for His glory.   

15.  Why would you consider leaving your present situation and moving here?

When we first began looking for another church to make our home, Bay Area and New Beginnings were the first two that came to mind.  Alma and I both know quite a few people at New Beginnings, some for well over 25 years.  We went there first, but just did not feel “at home.”  For the next several Sundays, I worked, but Alma, Toni, and Zackary went to BACC.  That first Sunday Alma told me how much they were drawn to it, and we have come for a little over a year now. 

Even if this doesn’t work out, we will continue our membership, and become more involved, Lord willing. 

Although I’ve been working in the marketplace for 20 years, my heart is in ministry.  My “unpaid” work in ministry is my real “career.”  Retail management is just my necessary “job.”  Some of you know of my struggle over the past few months with Starbucks.  I must leave the company in order to make a living, so leaving my present situation to come to work here would be a blessing. 

16.  What about your own personal health, recreation, exercise program and fitness?

For most of my life I have enjoyed good health.  I take medicine for acid reflux and for high blood pressure.  Although my blood pressure is good even without medicine, I take low doses as a precaution.  It’s what the doctor called “pre-hypertension.”  In May of 2004, I had an episode of vertigo, and spent several days in the hospital, and three months on disability while I recovered from that.  That has been the worst from a physical standpoint.  I was diagnosed with Vestibular Neuritis, probably caused by a virus attacking the nerve center in the inner ear.  The only “cure” for vestibular disorders is to learn to compensate, but my recovery has been quite easy compared to many people I know who suffer from the disorder.  I have very few problems with it now. 

For recreation, I read and write, I buy and sell books online, I like to shop with my wife in unique settings, and I enjoy photography.   

I walk a mile almost every morning, and do some light toning exercises.  Alma, Toni and I participated in Weight Watchers from April through November of this past year, and I lost over 30 pounds.  I kept most of them off, and we started up again this month. While I do believe obesity may be linked to genes and other medical conditions, much of the obesity in our culture is simply lack of discipline; overindulgence in eating.  I love to eat, so it is something I have to continually strive against.  I believe that physical fitness and proper exercise has a lot to do with the way we deal with stress in particular, but also affects most areas of our lives.   

17.  Write a brief essay of your personal walk with Christ. 

I was raised in a Christian home, surrounded by an extended family of the same faith.  My dad preached most Sundays, as we attended very small churches.  He traveled around the area; a circuit preacher, of sorts, but not a paid position.  I came to faith in Christ at the age of eleven, during a week-long gospel meeting, and I have walked with Christ since that time. 

Although I have stumbled many times, I have never forsaken the Way.  I attempt to maintain an attitude of prayer as I go through each day, and I trust that he honors everything I do, and every attempt to impact my surroundings.  Through the Word and through the wisdom of other Christians, I believe He has always given me direction and guidance.   

In this particular period of my life, starting about two years ago, I began reading and reflecting more on the gospels, as I want to become more deeply familiar with Jesus, the man.  I want to be able to see and live out his character in my own life.  Through my study, I have come to believe he defined his life and ministry as he read from the book of Isaiah in a synagogue one Saturday.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

In 2004, Stephen Covey began teaching material called “The Four Disciplines of Execution.”  In it, he encourages companies and organizations to define what things are “Wildly Important” in their organizations.  The aim is to focus on organizational goals that support those “wildly important” things.  During 2006, I spent much time meditating upon what is “wildly important” to God (and, therefore, should be for me, also).  I asked myself the question, “What three things does God expect of me, or else my life would be worthless in His sight?”  These things may not be true of everyone, but I determined that my focus right now is:                                   

1)  To love Him, and have an intimate relationship with him;                                   

2)  To love others the same as I love myself; and                                   

3)  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.   

18.  List brief statements of your personal goals in ministry and how you are in the process of obtaining them. 

As I put feet to the above statements, my ministry goals are as follows. 

To help others develop a loving and intimate relationship with God.  For the past year, most of my effort has focused upon my family, and drawing them into a deeper relationship with the Father.  I would like to expand my circle of influence by becoming active in ministry again through teaching and shepherding.  I also have plans to continue my education (online, probably) to enlarge the means to accomplish this goal.   

To draw God’s people together in a common alliance based upon God’s love.  There is too much division in Christianity today, and my desire is to facilitate working together to impact our world for Christ.  I have encouraged and participated in various community efforts involving many denominations.  As an elder, I worked actively to include the church in multi-denominational events in the community.  This is an effort in which I strongly believe.  The homeless mission that I am involved with, as time allows, includes friends of ours from the Houston Mennonite church, Clearpoint (a Baptist fellowship), Houston’s First Baptist Church, and the Church of Christ. 

To touch the least of society with God’s grace and favor.  Along with a few other families (mentioned above), I sometimes help lead worship at a homeless mission near 59 and Alabama, as my work schedule has allowed.  Since this may be coming to an end soon, I am looking for another opportunity to join in a ministry.  I truly believe God’s blessings are upon those who reach out to the neglected and despised of our society.     

19.  What experience have you had in managing and planning a budget for an Adult Ministry?

Every year the budget director would give out budgeting sheets to each ministry, along with last year’s expenditures.  We were expected to project our needs for the coming year, based upon the elder’s objectives for the church, and plan for the coming year.  This was a process I did every year for about seven years. 

My most relevant experience in planning and managing budgets actually comes from my retail background; planning, preparing, and then analyzing cash flow and profit and loss statements as we went through the year.  I’m very familiar with the budgeting process, having prepared and managed budgets for retail businesses for twenty years. 

20.  Briefly define and state your desires in working with the following:

  1. Sunday School teachers
  2. Small group leaders
  3. Servant Leaders (Ministry leaders)

I want to be their servant, not their master.  By that, I mean I want to support them and equip them, not “lord it over” them.  Direction must still be given, and decisions must still be made, as we follow the leadership’s directives, but I want to help each one be the best teacher or leader they can be.  One of the first things I learned in leadership was the phrase, “How can I help you do your job better?” 

I want to cast a vision for them of what the Lord wants to accomplish through their teaching and leading, and help them shape their ministry to accomplish that vision.  Good delegation is about casting a vision, equipping them to fulfill that vision, and then giving support to accomplish the work. 

I want to encourage each teacher and leader.  The work they’ve been called to is difficult, time-consuming, and – sometimes – thankless.  I want to reward them, praise them, and recognize them in appropriate ways. 

I want to equip them to be better teachers and leaders.  I want to understand what their needs and struggles are, and provide guidance and help where needed.   

I want to provide them the resources to meet the needs of their students and followers. 

21.  Summarize what steps you might take and encourage us to take to help you best serve the Lord and BACC as you begin your ministry here.

First of all, I want to understand the leaders’ vision about the ministry of Sunday School, small groups, and shepherding.  Knowing expectations is the primary key to meeting expectations. 

I want to spend some time assessing what we currently have, and how well it is meeting those expectations.  I want to talk with Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, and the shepherds to gain an understanding of what their individual objectives are.  Then, to convey to the teachers and small groups what the church’s objectives are.  Finally, to recognize how those are compatible with each other and how we can best proceed to accomplish what is best for the church. 

I want to take some time to identify all small groups currently meeting, assess what their purpose is, and how it supports the vision of the church.  There are formal small groups that are easily identified, but there are also organized small groups that we do not always identify formally as small groups.  For instance, the Praise Team is a “small group;” the Half-Century Club is a “small group;” “Expressing Yourself” is another “small group.”  Even the elders are a “small group;” the staff is a “small group.”  Sometimes, even a group of guys who play golf on Saturday mornings is a “small group.”  I want us to recognize what they are accomplishing as it speaks to our purpose, and recognize their usefulness. 

I want to spend some time, with the staff and elders, determining the purpose and focus of our educational program.  I believe education without application is futile, and dishonoring to the Lord.  I personally believe we should be working on the ultimate goal of sending every disciple on a mission for Christ.  Focused, formal education should only take a few years at most, and then it’s “on mission.” 

I would encourage us to have an annual, focused push on Sunday School – both youth and adult – sometime in late July or early August, as school is preparing to go back into session.  Even adults tend to be more inclined to join a class at this time of year.  Also, have an annual, focused push on small groups, perhaps in January, when people are resolving to “be move involved” in church.  Sermons, announcements, elders, staff, website, bulletin, etc. would focus for a few weeks on the topic of Sunday School (learning, growing, discipling) or small groups, (fellowship, accountability, discipling) their purpose, their mission, and their accomplishment.   

I want to get to know people within the congregation.  (Of course, we already know some, but on a very “surface” level at this time.)  Mike and the elders could help facilitate this best, I think. 

I would encourage us to make better use of technology to facilitate small groups and even facilitate learning.  I am sure most people in the Clear Lake area are very proficient technologically, and would adapt well to an upgraded, more interactive website, podcasts, blogs, email newsletters, etc.   

If it hasn’t already been done, I want us to create a network of member profiles.  Things like employment, career fields, spiritual gifts, abilities, heart, ministries, hobbies, and other affinities, just to name a few.  This will help to facilitate and grow small groups, identify needs, and identify gaps in our ability to minister. 

22.  In the age we live, there are a great number of single parent/divorced families…What special needs do you see and how can you attempt to meet them? 

I can draw from my own past here.  I have been divorced.  I have been a single parent.  I am a step-parent, and even a step-grandparent. 

There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness that simply engulfs the divorced.  They are afraid, alone, often ripped apart from their children.  Sometimes, they feel alienated from friends, particularly at church.  They feel less than whole.  They feel like they are being judged, looked down upon, and shunned.  None of these things may be happening, but the overwhelming loneliness causes many doubts to arise. 

If these people are to stay sane and pure, they must have close fellowship with accepting, loving Christians who invite them to go for a meal, a movie, to play a game, to talk.  Just to feel someone’s presence with them.  To hug them, let them cry and grieve.  Divorce is very much a death; death without closure.   

For many, there is the added burden of children who need to be fed, helped to get ready for school in the morning, helped to understand where the other parent is.  Financial needs often become desperate.  Many times, a move away from a home they have all known for years is necessary.  Simple decisions become enormous, mind-bending choices.  Routines are destroyed; chaos often takes over.   

Community becomes so important here.  Meeting their needs is often overwhelming, and truly it takes many in the body to step up and meet those needs.  Just like when there is a death in the family, “being there” in those initial hours of separation to help them grieve is a most important thing.  But then, continue to be available often to offer support and help.  As a church family, we should be willing to step up with financial help, too, as well as emotional support.   

I would want to do as many of those things as I could, but as a minister, I would specifically want to get to know the congregation so well that I would know who to call on when a member goes through any crisis, including divorce.  Unfortunately, not one of us can know everybody that well.  That is why it is so critical that we develop small groups to act as “safety nets” as people experience crises in life. 

23.  How do you manage your time including setting priorities, defining and delegating responsibilities?

For ten years I worked for Franklin Covey, a company that has probably had more influence on time management in the workplace than any other company.  I was trained in their time management system, and even taught it for a short period of time.   

My planner is my constant companion, and I refer to it often to keep me on track with the tasks I need to accomplish each day.  On Saturday or Sunday, I sit down for a time of reflection on my mission, values, and roles.  I then plan my week based on what I feel are the most important things that I should accomplish that week as they relate to my mission, values, and roles.  On a daily basis, I take a few minutes each morning, and plan the general tasks that need to be accomplished that day, and prioritize them.  Tasks that relate to my mission, values, and roles are usually the top priorities, but that must be balanced with the needs of people as the day progresses.   

Stephen Covey also taught very thoroughly on the subject of delegation, and levels of delegation; everything from telling someone exactly what to do and how to do it, to – on the other extreme – trusting them to simply accomplish what must be done.  First of all, a person’s trustworthiness and capabilities have to be discovered.  If they are trustworthy and capable, I am a proponent for training, defining the end result, setting the necessary parameters (things one cannot do to accomplish the end result), establishing consequence and reward, and then turning a job over to the other person for fulfillment. 

The explanation sounds complicated, but the practice of it takes place very quickly.   

I would love to show you a couple of short video clips produced by the Covey Leadership Center that illustrate these points. 

24.  Do you consider yourself teachable?

I do.  I love to read, study, and discuss.  I keep an open mind on every subject, and am always willing to learn.   

25.  Are you a team player?

I am.  I work very well on my own, and enjoy solo work, but I believe that we all must have others around us to discuss and develop ideas, to hold each other accountable, to encourage us, and sometimes reprimand us.  The most serious sins in my life have come from working solo for a long period of time with no personal accountability. 

During the past 20 years, whether working in the church or in the secular marketplace, I have worked as a member of a team.   

26.  Describe your philosophy of ministry?

Ministry is serving people on God’s behalf.  Jesus calls and gifts each person in the body to build up the body to maturity.  We are all called upon to be ministers to the body of Christ, and the body ministers to the world around it. 

27.  What type of “shepherding” program do you have?

When I left my last church, I was one of three shepherds.  We had divided up the members between ourselves, to minister to them more effectively.  First, we each chose those we knew were close to us and would follow us willingly.  Those who remained we divided among ourselves as we could determine their compatibility with each of us. 

My goal was to get to know each one, pray with them and for them, talk with them, and care for them in every way I could.  If one of them went into the hospital, requested a visit, or I recognized that they needed help, I responded to that need.   

Just as with my family, I want to shepherd all those to whom I minister to the throne of God.  I want to lead them to walk closely with Jesus, grow in faith, and disciple others.  I want them to become shepherds to still others, and so multiply my shepherding influence. 

28.  Since you would be responsible for shepherding, describe your heart for those who struggle with faithfulness, especially in regular attendance and participation in the church body.   How would you reach out to them to help them grow in commitment to Christ and His Church?

Most of the people who struggle with faithfulness in attendance and participation are really struggling with commitment to Christ, commitment to spiritual discipline, friendship, and life management.  At one time or another, I have struggled through each of those things, also, as many of us have.  So I understand the struggle, and I know how difficult it is to overcome the obstacles.  But the obstacles can be overcome.  As I’ve said before, I’m an encourager, and I believe in encouraging these people in any way I can.  But I also believe they must be “encouraged” to make some progress toward overcoming their obstacles.   

First of all I would try to determine if they really have a commitment to Christ and His Church, or if their commitment is really to something else.  For example, are they committed to their parents or their friends, who taught them and encouraged them, but who no longer happen to be around?  I would want to help them establish a commitment to Christ alone. 

Other struggling Christians may have a commitment to Christ, but they have become so sloppy in spiritual disciplines that it drags them down into uselessness.  I believe it’s most helpful here to encourage small steps forward, sustained over a period of time, rather than trying to totally immerse them in every aspect of body life all at once.   Committing to a daily time of prayer for a month, and then moving on to a daily Bible reading for a period of time.  Adding to small successes builds confidence and abilities to do more. 

For many different reasons, sometimes there is a lack of connection with other compatible Christians.  Finding common friendship and companionship can sometimes help someone begin attending again, or become involved again.  Here I would encourage a stronger Christian to come alongside the struggling one and establish a connection, either with work, hobby, interests, etc.   

I think for many, the cares of this life come in and simply choke out faithfulness.  People become so involved in kids’ activities, their own work or recreation, the pursuit of money and things, or career pursuits, that participation in the body of Christ is crowded out.  Some of these people continue to attend church, but their active participation is really non-existent.  They are not fulfilling their purpose, or using their gifts for the body.  And these are sometimes the hardest to reach, because their lives “look” okay.  They are attending regularly, and feel like they’re doing all they can do just to do that!  They usually intend to get involved someday, when life is less complicated.  Again, sometimes the little steps are the biggest.  I would encourage them to get involved in some small activity compatible with their gifts that is not very time-intensive, and help them have a good experience with it.  Then build upon that experience. 

I don’t believe anyone is beyond hope and help.  It takes time, encouragement, prayer, and persistence to keep God’s people walking to the Promised Land.   

Just ask Moses!

Advertisements