Category Archives: Church

Praising God for 2017

It’s often difficult to measure success in ministry. So much of God’s work happens quietly, subtly, behind the scenes and beneath the surface.

We’ll never know the full extent of our labor this side of heaven, or see the full picture of what God is doing. However, over the past twelve months, several ministries have borne visible fruit.

Here are some highlights of the past year:

  • Celebrated new baptisms and members
  • Helped establish Pillar Church in 29 Palms
  • Began a weekly broadcast on our local radio station Z107
  • Provided Easter and Christmas cantatas
  • Hosted a walking tour at Desert Christ Park
  • Outreach week with The Master’s University
  • Took a major leap forward in our Children’s ministry
  • Removed sound booth and expanded sanctuary seating
  • Installed state-of-the-art speakers and sound mixer
  • Improved our ministry team organizational structure
  • Welcomed a new intern from California Baptist University
  • Added a junior high class to our Vacation Bible School
  • Updated our name to Crossview Bible Church
  • Hosted a Parenting Class using Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart
  • Raised $250 for Syrian Refugees during VBS
  • Delivered dozens of boxes to Operation Christmas Child
  • Enjoyed a Fall Men’s Retreat on “Living Well”
  • Re-introduced Saturday morning SALT discipleship
  • Successfully sold our property across the street
  • Took the first steps toward a church facility revitalization
  • And, we had a full house at our candlelight Christmas Eve service

It’s been a busy and fruitful year. To God be the glory!

To find out more about our church, please visit www.CrossviewYucca.org.

Our Ministry Vision … Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, I took a few deacons up to the mountains of Idyllwild on a Prayer and Strategic Planning Retreat. We had no elders at the time, so these men were essentially my partners as shepherds and overseers of the local church.

This was a difficult season for our church. Attendance had dwindled down to about 50 people, and we were running a $2,000 monthly deficit. Some were afraid the church would have to close its doors.

During our weekend sitting on those musty couches in the mountain air, we discussed ministry and prayed for the future of our church. We also used the SWOT method to do some strategic planning (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and laid out a long-term vision for the ministry. It was too early to share some of these ambitious goals with the whole congregation, so early on, they were just desires of our heart, expressed through prayer.

Now, exactly ten years later, I’m overwhelmed to see God’s goodness, and the fruit of those prayers. With nearly every item on our list, the Lord met or exceeded our expectations.

Goal: Be using present facility at full potential or already in new building across the street.

Ten Years Later: Our auditorium has reached full capacity, and we are in the process of renovations and expansions.

Goal: Deeper exposition of God’s Word at all levels, in all classes and worship services.

Ten Years Later: God has given our church a hunger for God’s word, and continues to grow me as an expositor. We have studied together the Gospel of John, 1 Corinthians, Titus, Ecclesiastes, 1 John, the Gospel of Mark, and now Romans.

Goal: Possible classical school.

Ten Years Later: This has not been a priority. But we are blessed to see many more families and children attending our service.

Goal: Possible Bible institute of some kind, equipping pastors and lay people.

Ten Years Later: The Lord has given us a strategic partnership with California Baptist University to train up young men going into pastoral ministry.

Goal: That we would radiate Christ, His Gospel, His love, and His book; that there would be an energy, vitality, joy, and excitement, that would be noticeable to others.

Ten Years Later: We continue to be a work in progress, but many people have visited the church and say it is one of the most loving, friendly churches they have ever attended.

Goal: A growing influence on our Inland Empire Association, on other local churches, and on pastors.

Ten Years Later: By God’s grace, we I have served on several denominational boards and committees, and was given the opportunity to preside over the Pastor’s Conference several years ago.

Goal: A plurality of elders providing leadership while still retaining some level of congregational involvement; begin to move toward biblical pattern of church polity.

Ten Years Later: In 2015, our church voted unanimously to adopt a biblical polity that involved a plurality of elders. These men are both good friends and wise counselors, and I cannot begin to measure their love for the body of Christ, or the joy of doing ministry together.

What will our ministry look ten years from now? Only the Lord knows. But let us never forget the power of prayer, and the vital role of patience in ministry.

Advantages of a Small Church

My wife and I both grew up in small churches, and I pastor one now. I’ve long felt they are overlooked and misunderstood in ministry training and support.

Most small churches, I think, struggle with an inferiority complex, looking with a certain degree of envy at their “big brother” down the street (or on YouTube, or the radio, or conferences). Big churches appear successful (“They must be doing something right to attract all those people!”). Small churches draw looks of sympathy.

But let us not forget the majority of churches in America, and throughout church history, have been small churches. It appears Christ will always accomplish a large amount of kingdom work through small churches.

In a 2014 Shepherds Conference workshop entitled “Small Church: Big Impact,” Lance Quinn shared several advantages to a small church. These include:

  • Small churches should be able to do a few things well.
    • They are able to more effectively know and care for the entire body.
    • They can more effectively practice the one-another’s of scripture.
    • They can be easier to manage due to a lack of complexity.
    • It is possible to know and affirm leaders in a more intimate way.
    • They can be a close-knit body of prayer warrior.

Question: Do you agree with these points? What advantages would you add to the list?

Leave Your Mark

Few things bring more joy than watching young people worship the Lord.

A couple weeks ago, we had a “Youth Recognition Sunday” at church, with our youth group providing the scripture reading, meditation on the attributes of God, and special music. This was completely the idea of our youth leaders, and I’m so thankful they did it!

Since we just completed our study through the Gospel of Mark, I decided to bring a message geared directly at our young people — encouraging them not to squander these years of singleness, but rather to be an example to the rest of the body of Christ.

I didn’t get a chance to say it during the message, but this passage became a kind of “life verse” for me and Natalie during our dating years in college. It helped us stay pure and kept our focus on the Lord as we walked through life together and moved steadily toward marriage. As both a pastor and husband, it has become a special portion of Scripture to me.

The sermon “Leave Your Mark” is now available on our church podcast, or you can listen using the media player below.

Our First Night of Small Groups

We had a wonderful first home Bible Study last night. Eleven adults participated, plus another ten children. And that was in spite of several Wednesday night ‘regulars’ being out of town.

Perhaps most exciting to me was that several people who came last night had not been attending a small group before. This is exactly who we aim to reach with these home groups. We hope to see a higher percentage of church members and attenders (and even unchurched people) in our small groups than what we’ve been experiencing in our traditional Sunday School or Wednesday night program — or even back in the day when we did a Sunday night service.

In this post, I’d like to just walk you through our first night, so you can get a feel for how the night unfolded, and what you might expect if you are starting your own small group.

BEFORE THE MEETING- My wife and the kids worked hard yesterday afternoon to get our living room ‘guest ready’ and our family room ‘kid ready.’ I personally invited a number of people ahead of time, then texted several families around 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon to remind them of our small group. I think this last step resulted in one or two extra families that otherwise might not have come.

WELCOME – People started arriving about 15 mins early. My wife was just getting home from shuttling the kids around to afternoon sports, so I welcomed people in and offered them something to drink (water, lemonade, coffee). We officially started around 6:45 pm. Everyone shared their name and favorite ice cream. This was a quick and fun ice breaker. Several in the group are newer to the church, and I noticed at least one person was writing down names as we went around the room. I invited everyone to really make themselves at home, move about as needed, told them where the bathroom was, etc. Then I opened in prayer.

BIBLE STUDY – I explained to everyone that we would be studying the Book of Hebrews over the next year. I asked what they knew already about Hebrews. Then I gave a handout (click here to download) and we all went to Hebrews 12:1-2 to see how the Christian life is like a marathon requiring endurance. We discussed the major theme, outline, and some interesting features of the book of Hebrews and looked at a few sample passages to whet their appetites. I also have them a copy of our 2016-2017 teaching calendar so they can read/study the next section in advance if they’d like.

GROUP DYNAMIC – The group was very informal and relaxed. We sat around the coffee table, but a couple others were at the dining room table or in the kitchen. Some folks had to get up to attend to kids, feed a baby, etc. One mom got down on the floor with her child, and kept her Bible on the edge of table. There was a little commotion at times, but I just spoke up louder and kept moving. Some people ate dinner before they came, but one family brought dinner with them and sat at the dining room table with their McDonalds cheeseburgers at the beginning. Everyone remained flexible. It was pretty special to see 80 year olds and 2 year olds present in the same room, with Bibles open and everyone talking about Jesus. I tried to keep everyone involved by asking questions, encouraging dialogue, and inviting others to read the scripture passages, and even to read some of the handout so they could hear other voices besides mine. At the same time, this was not just an open discussion or group share time. I had specific content I had prepared ahead of time, and several people were taking notes.

WRAP UP – We ended at 8 pm and dismissed with prayer. Natalie had baked brownies. Some people had to leave right away, but others lingered for another 30-45 minutes eating snacks and talking while the kids played. I think the last family left a little after 9 pm. Next time, we will take sign ups and ask other families to bring snacks so we don’t have to be responsible both for the food and getting the house ready for company.

Overall, it was a great first night and I pray you have a similar experience. To God be the glory!