announcements are fun…

I always like hearing from people about new things happening in their lives and I’m excited to share something new happening in mine.  For most of the last year as a part of my web development business I’ve been helping a company called Event Espresso with their website redesign and some bits and pieces that are running their automatic plugin updates and membership system.  It was a really fun project to work on and we just launched their website two weeks ago.

In the process, I was working closely with the Event Espresso team and we realized that we worked well together.  I was invited to join their team as their core developer and I’ve accepted.

I’m REALLY excited about this transition because I get to keep building cool stuff and I really see Event Espresso becoming THE “go to” plugin for events and ticket sales and I’m looking forward to being a part of and contributing to their growth.

Are you running events?  Are you looking for an easy way to manage registrations and ticket sales?  You really need to check them out.

Oh and you know what else is cool?  My family and I don’t have to move.  EE’s team is a distributed team working from locations all over.  Fun stuff!

big changes

I know I haven’t been posting here much lately -it’s a sign of how busy I am.  However, there’s some news in my life that deserves a post.

This past Sunday I made public my resignation as the Assistant Pastor at Waterloo Pentecostal Assembly.  Effective May 31st, I’m transitioning from pastoring into doing web-development full-time.  Followers of my blog already know that I’ve been doing web development on the side for a few years now.  I’m going to be growing and expanding my business and plunging full in with this passion that I believe God has given me.

The good news is that we’re not moving from Waterloo and WPA remains our home church.  I’m looking forward to transitioning from a full-time paid ministry position to a volunteer role helping in the areas that match who I am as a person and the gifts and abilities God has blessed me with.

Some people have asked me, “So how do you feel about this?”  My short answer? AWESOME!  My longer answer, “At peace that this is the right decision, excited for the changes this will bring, nervous about whether our financial needs will be met, but trusting God that He has a bigger plan and this is just a step towards fulfilling”.

For those who are interested, here is the text of the letter I read to the congregation this past Sunday:

Dear church family,

When I first went into ministry as a pastor, I fully believed it was where God was directing me at that stage in my life, and to this day do not doubt that God has been ordering my steps, nor that I’ve been failing to follow. There have been some incredibly fruitful years of pastoring where I learned much about being a leader, preaching, and teaching; and I know that all of these years have been preparation for what God wants to do in and through me in the future. 

However, I have never really fully embraced Pastoring as a passion. I have done it because I believed God called me to pastor, and I’ve always wanted to be faithful to that call. In my heart of hearts though, I’ve always known that pastoring would not be a lifetime calling. Ministry? yes! However, ministry can take many forms and I’ve always been a strong communicator about God’s call to ministry in LIFE not necessarily what may be viewed as “full-time” ministry.

Over the past two years (really began much earlier but the last two years have brought things more into focus), I’ve become more fully aware of and embraced what IS my passion, and that is internet/web development. That is the practical outflow of my passion, but really I’ve always been passionate about using technology within the church to effectively reach today’s culture.

I still feel called to ministry but there has been a shift of my calling away from Pastoring full-time into something else that still hasn’t been fully revealed to me but involves what I am passionate about.

In early January I handed Pastor Marshall my resignation that will become effective May 31st.  

Coming to this decision has been a long and difficult process with much time spent in prayer and seeking God’s direction.  I do believe God called me into pastoring for a season and I’ve been faithful to that call (15+ years of pastoring). There have been many joys and sorrows, as it is with anything worthwhile doing and I’ve been impacted in incredible ways over those years, however, I’ve always known that this would not be a lifetime calling.  

One of the things I’ve always taught and preached is my firm belief that sometimes we know the general direction God is taking us but we don’t know the final picture.  Sometimes all He gives us is “what’s next”.  That certainly is what happened for Ker and I when I resigned 4 years ago in Hanover (all we knew was our time was done but had no place to go) and it is certainly what is happening now here at WPA.  We have found that when we’re faithful and obedient to what we’re certain God is showing us for what’s next, He is faithful in providing the direction for the future.

The “what’s next” that I am hearing for my family and I is to step into the area of where my passions are, which is the intersection of church and technology (specifically the internet) and I’m going to be volunteering here at WPA to help with our online internet and social media strategy.  To support my family I’m going to be continuing to expand and grow the web development business I’ve been running in my spare time over the last two years.  I don’t know what the long term destination is that God has for us but I do know this is what’s next 🙂  I also know that God is always at work in us to prepare us for His purpose and His plans and the destination isn’t as important as the process of getting there.

While I do feel released from my position as pastor here at WPA, neither Ker nor I feel released from ministry here and we are VERY excited to be able to stay and contribute our gifts and abilities as we continue to serve the Kingdom and belong to our church family.  We love this church, we love this family, and we value and trust our leadership. We know that God is at work here at WPA and we’re thrilled that we are able to continue engaging in ministry here!

I’m a different person than I was when I first came to WPA (in a good way!) and many people in this room have had some part in that change.

I will be officially transitioning from my position as Assistant Pastor at the end of May and have purposely allowed more time for Pastor Marshall to find a person to fill my position here.  

Pray with me as we lift up this search to our Lord!

Wrap up and a Look Forward

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

It’s time to wrap up this series I wrote in the month of January.  It was a great exercise to take a look at what I aimed to do at the beginning of 2010, and what I actually ended up doing!  Some great lessons learned a long the way.  By the way, this is a GREAT exercise for anyone to do on an annual basis, it helps cultivate focus in your life and implant the lessons you’ve learned in the past year.  Leaders take note!

Now that I’ve taken a look back, it’s time to take a look forward for 2011.  What does this next year hold for me as I consider what I know and what I hope to see happen (in no particular order)?

  • I’m going on two missions trips this year.  I’m actually flying out for Malawi (already here at the time of publishing this) and will be going to Ukraine for almost 2 weeks at the end of April.  Missions trips always shake up my world and give me a HUGE appreciation for the work our missionaries do all over the world.  I volunteer my web development skills for this, and this, because of a missions trip.
  • I’ll be continuing to develop and grow OrganizeSeries.com and also have the potential for some other partnerships with people in the WordPress community that I’m exploring.  In case you haven’t discovered yet, I have a great passion for web development and coding.   To me, code is poetry.
  • I want to continue to develop as a leader.  I’ve made a personal commitment to read 10 books this year and this will join all the other reading I do through my feed reader.  If you want to follow along with what I’m reading (and have read) you can check out my anobii page.
  • My wife and I will continue on the positive path we’ve taken for our financial health as a family and will work on paying down more of our debt.  It currently looks like a three year plan but I’m hoping to shorten that with the extra income from the business I’m developing.
  • There are some big things personally I wrestled a bit with last year and this year I hope to come to some clear decisions regarding that.  A big part of the process is prayer, listening to the wise, and listening to the wisest (God).  So if you know me well, keep me in prayer this year – the decision will have huge implications for me and my family.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for my church this year -> really working on accomplishing my ministry goals for what I do there.
  • I’ve made the decision to spend some time working on my physical health.  Working at a desk during the day and the development work I’ve been doing in the evenings (usually sitting with my laptop on a couch) is taking its toll on my physically and I’ve been in the worst shape of my life.  I don’t like it.  I know it’s not healthy. I don’t want to die young.  I love my family.  Soo, I’ve committed to start taking care of my body better this year and am watching my calories.  I’m also going to try to squeeze in some physical activity through the week to get the exercise I need.  The great thing is, my wife is joining me on this one.  It’s so much easier doing this kind of thing when someone you love is doing it with you!

I look forward to coming back and reviewing this list in 2012.  What about you?  What kinds of things are you working on in 2011 – I’d love to hear from you!

getting in the Word

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

I’ve been away from here again for a few days and it’s turning this series I’ve been writing into a month long reflection.  Nevertheless, I am determined to finish this! So let’s continue (if you’re new to this series, you can click here for some context).

Here’s what I wrote last year:

I love YouVersion.com and thanks to the many Bible Reading plans they’ve made available, I’m going to be reading through the Bible (again) this year.  If you don’t read the Bible, you should – it’s one of the best things you can do (and the digerati team behind youversion has made it so easy!) My wife and I are working through a plan together as well.

What happened:

I made it halfway through the M’Cheyne plan that I was working on.  Kind of bummed I didn’t complete it but I try not to be religious in my Bible reading (otherwise it becomes a chore, it should never be a chore!).  My wife and I didn’t complete the reading plan we were working on together either (Blended) – so many days where we just collapsed exhausted in bed together.  I’m missing this though so I want to get back on track with another one this year.  Now that we both have iPhones it should be easier to work together on this.

What I learned:

About myself:  I work best with routine, but need to change it up once and a while.  Otherwise it becomes just that, routine instead of reward.  There IS NO SET FORMULA for when, where, how, or how much you should read!  YouVersion has REALLY helped me with breaking the shackles of routine.

About  my spirit:  Spiritually speaking, the Word of God is “soul food” for me.  I definitely feel it when I go any extended time without just reading the Bible with an open heart and spirit, expecting to hear from God.  There’s almost an edginess, and dullness that exists in my life without it.   Not only that, but I have found that my creative output goes down as well.

What about you?  How does reading the Bible affect your life (or not)… and why do you think that is?

memory work

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

It’s time for another post in this series.  Here’s another thing I wrote last year around this time:

I’m going to be memorizing scripture through the year along with others in my church family who are joining in the journey (I’ll be posting about this sometime in the next two weeks).  My 8 year old daughter is also participating and when I sent her an email (yes she has email – I’ve introduced her to the Google Behemoth)  to tell her that I’m doing it too she replied, “Neat. Bring it on Dad”.  The gloves are down.

What happened:

I’ve been memorizing every scripture every week and have about 38-40 scriptures memorized  REALLY well and probably the rest I’m still working on.  I’ve used a variety of tools to help me with this through the year but have settled on this iPhone app.  Unfortunately my daughter didn’t have the stamina to keep up with her Dad (of course, at 9 years old, she’s got enough stuff going on!)  BUT the cool thing is she is reading her Bible every day and goes out of her way to show me the latest stuff she’s reading.  I love it!

What I learned:

  • You may think you can’t memorize stuff.  But you can.  It still amazes me when I review the verses that I can even recite them from memory.
  • Having scripture memorized enhanced my prayer life.  There have been so many times when I’ve been praying for something and a verse came to mind that “fit in” with what I was praying.  Powerful.
  • Another benefit is that I’m finding when I read the Bible, the overall themes are more apparent because of the scripture I’ve memorized.  I find myself thinking, “hey, that sounds familiar to something over in_______”, where the blank is a scripture I memorized.
  • Memorizing scripture has helped improve my memory overall.  This was unexpected, but I am finding that I’m remembering things easier than before.  Names come easier.  The coding I do goes quicker because I’m not having to look up functions as much.  Remembering I locked my van door is easier (those who heard me talk about that in a message I spoke last year will know what I’m talking about).

All in all this has been something that I’ve found to be a VERY beneficial discipline.  Have any of you had experience with memorizing things?  How has it worked for you?  What benefits have you noticed?

what matters

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

Been away from here the last couple days, but now I’m back.  Let’s continue this series shall we?  Last year I wrote a “looking forward” kind of post for some of the things I hoped to accomplish, change in the coming year.  This year I’m writing a series of post reflecting on that list and what happened in 2010.  Here’s the next item on the list that I wrote:

I’m going to continue working on being a great Dad and husband to my family…if I fail at that, then it doesn’t matter what else I succeed at.

What happened:

A work in progress!  I think I’m not doing too bad, but I know I could always do better.  One of the hardest things for me in the past year was balancing my time.  Between my full time job at my church, the freelance work I did, and my work on Organize Series, it’s been a challenge spending the quality time needed to be a good husband and father.  I know I could have done better – correction: I know I MUST do better.  Why? Because it’s one of the few things that really matters.

There are some things I’m doing to get better at this and I’ll hopefully write a blog post about it at some point.  But for now, I’d love to hear from you, my readers about what you do to make sure you are investing quality time for the things that really matter in your life?  So let me hear it in the comments!

pro-bono

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

This post continues the series I’ve been writing as I reflect on 2010.  This has been neat thinking through some of the things I aimed for in the New Years post I wrote last year and what actually happened.  Let’s continue:

I hope to continue volunteering for some great causes (along with continuing the work I do for vohmalawi.org and vohzimbabwe.com).

What happened

I still continue to support both Villages of Hope in Malawi and Zimbabwe  along with developing and maintaining their websites (pro-bono, you knew you’d find out the reason for the title of this post right?) .  This continues to be something I LOVE doing.  Here’s why:

  1. Anything to do with web development is ice cream to me. I like ice cream.
  2. These two organizations are doing incredible work in providing hope and a future to kids who have little of both.  They’ve captured my heart.
  3. The people working there have sacrificed much to get there and continue what they’re doing.  I want to do what I can to make their job communicating things a little bit easier.
  4. There’s IMMENSE satisfaction knowing that you are using your skills and abilities to contribute to making a difference in the world. I know God smiles at the work I do for them.

What I learned

I’ve had to be a good steward of my time.  There are so many things I want to do but there’s only 24 hours in a day and I have to be careful of the things I choose to do.  Sometimes that means choosing what I won’t do.  In order to keep doing the websites for these folks I have had to choose to cut back in some other areas of my life.  Which is okay (reread my list above for why).

There have been different points through the year where I’ve had to revisit this important principle when I realized that I was taking on more than I should and not letting things go (that may be good, but not better than something I want to add to my life).

I challenge you to take a look at your gifts and abilities.  Is there something you are giving them to, that makes a difference in the world?  There’s nothing like it.  I’d love to hear about it!

Oh and another thing I wrote last year:

I may be going on a trip to Siberia this year.  Yes, that’s crazy.

Yes it was crazy.  I didn’t go. It was one of those things I had to say no to.  This February I’m going to Malawi (to the Village of Hope there actually!!) and I may be going to the Ukraine in April.  You’ll hear more about these in the future.

guest blogging

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

Let’s keep going on this series shall we?  Here’s what I wrote around this time last year:

On that note, it’d be an awesome honor to be invited to be a guest blogger on one of the blogs I read. Dunno if I have anything to offer, but still it’d be cool.

What happened

I still think it’d be an honor to be invited but it didn’t happen.  Well, that’s not entirely correct.  I didn’t get a specific invitation – they have given a general invitation to all their readers to contribute (and get paid too!) – I just haven’t taken them up on it (yet).

What I learned:

Aside from the fact that I’m obviously not as in demand as a writer as I thought I was (sic), this is a good example of waiting for something to happen that needs your involvement to happen.  In other words, there are some things in life that won’t happen until you take steps towards it happening.  Honestly, when I wrote about becoming a guest blogger last year I wasn’t really expecting that I would get invited, it was more of a “it would be cool if..” kind of a statement.  Realistically, if I really wanted to be a guest writer on ChurchCrunch I would have wrote an article and submitted it to them.  They had already extended the invitation.

This made me think, “this is like our relationship with God sometimes”  We pray things like, “Hey God, you know it would be really cool if you took care of my debt and blessed me with wealth” and do nothing.  Sure, God could do amazing things like that, but more often than not he’s waiting for us to act on things he’s already told us to do. In other words,

  • you’re asking for financial blessing – how are you spending and stewarding what you have?
  • you’re asking for a better marriage relationship – what are you contributing to the relationship?
  • you’re asking for increased influence – what are you doing with the influence you already have?
  • you’re asking for a raise – have you been faithfully working in the job you’re doing now?

God parted the Red Sea, but Moses had to lift up the staff first.  God stopped the flow of the Jordan River, but the priests had to walk into it with the Ark of Covenant first.  God knocked down the walls of Jericho, but the worship team had to lead a parade around it first.  God will give you a new nature, and an incredible relationship with him past the end of time, but you have to receive the gift of salvation through Christ first.

What are YOU doing with what you have?

(incidentally, today I read this article by Stephen Furtick that approached this idea from another angle,  he knocks it out of the park!)

lurking vs. joining the conversation

This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward
In the continuation of the series I’ve been writing this last few days, here’s something I wrote as a part of my New Year’s post at the beginning of last year:
I’m going to comment and interact more on the internets.  Confession: I’m a lurker.

What happened :

I’m still a lurker for the most part although I have got involved in more discussions than I did the previous year.  I even have a few posts on this blog that grew out of comments I made elsewhere:

What I learned:

Engaging with authors by leaving comments is a valuable thing to do.  It…

  • helps with your own creativity.  Some great article ideas have come out of comments I’ve made on other blogs.
  • connects you with other people.
  • connects other people with you.  A good comment will bring traffic to your own blog.

I also learned that it’s hard for me to overcome being a lurker.  This is most likely because of my insane attention to detail and wanting to get things totally right that adds to the time it takes me to write and then I don’t write because it takes too much time.  Sad.  There were a lot of half-written comments this past year that I abandoned because it was taking to long to write.  I’m just not the kind of guy who can just leave a “great post” or “this article sucks” as a comment with out backing up why I think that way.

So, what about you?  Are you a lurker on the internets, or do you feel you have a pretty good handle on this “engaging” thing?  If so, what would your advice be to people like me?

coaching

This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

This post continues the series I’ve been writing on as a part of my year in review.  Here’s something else I wrote last year when thinking about the year ahead:

One of the highlights in the past year for me was taking some training on being a leadership coach.  Every now and then I think we come across something that as individuals we really connect with as something we’re created to do.  Coaching is one of those things for me.  I’ve decided that I’m going to pursue the path to becoming a certified leadership coach as it really jives with what I believe God created me for.  I’m starting off this year by leading my church pastoral team through a peer coaching course and I’ll also be attending another training session myself.

What happened:

I completed the Level Two coaching course I enrolled in.  It was VERY helpful.  I also led our ministry team at my church through most of a peer coaching course but we ended up not finishing do to things getting busy.  On a good note, other staff has (or is) enrolled in the coaching course themselves (including our Lead Pastor) because of the value they have seen in it.  I have used these new skills numerous times throughout the past year.  It’d be nice to pursue the coaching certification at some point but it’s no longer high on my list of priorities BUT the skills learned are still something I’m using all the time.

What I’ve learned:

Coaching ranks up there as one of the most valuable skills I have learned and I’m constantly working at becoming better every opportunity I get.

Another thing I learned while leading the staff through the Peer coaching lessons is that it is something you cannot teach effectively over a 5 month period.  I’m convinced that one of the reasons we didn’t finish it is because in an attempt to compensate for our busy schedule we spread the lessons over a long period.  It killed momentum and the effectiveness of the lessons.  The good thing is it gave staff a peek at the value of coaching as a skill and (as I already stated) some of them have gone on to enroll in the full coaching course.  The bad thing is we didn’t finish the peer coaching lessons.

Now a question for you:  Have you experienced the concept of leadership, or life “coaching”?  If so, what was it like for you?