Ministry

Garretson Campus Becoming its Own Church?

Garretson SD Picture

Pastor Jon & I recorded a podcast that discusses this in more detail. I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to the podcast to get a better understanding of what is happening!
Episode 132: Why We are Transitioning a Multi-Site Campus into an Independent Church Plant


For those of you that do not know, The RESCUE Church is a multi-site church. This means we are one church that meets in multiple locations. Each campus shares the same structure, budget, preaching calendar, and leadership team. I currently pastor the Garretson Campus of The RESCUE Church.

There’s a good chance you have heard something about the Garretson Campus of The RESCUE Church becoming a separate church from The RESCUE Church. After numerous conversations and hours in prayer, we are moving in the direction of establishing ourselves as an autonomous church separate from The RESCUE Church.

This decision has been approved unanimously by the leadership team of The RESCUE Church – including lead pastor Jon Sanders and executive pastor Sam Pickard.

I will write a few blog posts over the upcoming months to keep everyone posted. In this first post, I would like to share some important information:

This does not mean there has been conflict that has led to this choice.

On the contrary, I brought this up in a private conversation with Jon & Sam almost a year ago. God was beginning to stir in my heart a desire to become a lead pastor. Nevertheless, I am deeply committed to the people and community of Garretson so I asked if they would consider transitioning the Garretson Campus from being a campus to an independent church.

Truthfully, Jon and/or Sam will be on our leadership team for the first year to help the transition go smoothly.

What can you do to help during this time?

1. Please spend time praying for God to give us wisdom and discernment. We only want to move forward if God is truly leading us in this direction.

2. If you live in the area, consider becoming part of the new church. If you currently attend a church in a different city (i.e. you live in Garretson but attend in Sioux Falls) please speak to your pastor and get his/her blessing to join a church in your community and make a greater impact on those around you. I would strongly encourage you to submit to your current pastor’s spiritual leadership. If he/she is not comfortable with you leaving and joining our ministry, please respect that.

3. Consider giving a monthly amount ($25, $50, $100, $500 or more) for one year to help us with our start-up costs. In a later blog post, I’ll share specifically how you can do this. If you are interested, contact me so I can speak with you personally and answer any questions you have.

4. Continue to pray and support the vision of The RESCUE Church as a whole. To listen to the direction The RESCUE Church is going and hear Pastor Jon’s thoughts on other changes happening, listen to this message:
Pass the Test (Sunday, August 13th) 

 

Lessons From Being Punched in the Face!

boxing blog

I have been in the process of learning how to box for the past few months. I have spent countless hours studying footwork, combinations, and proper head movement. As I continued to improve, I was given clearance to begin full-contact sparring with more experienced boxers at my gym!

This past Saturday, I showed up to Top Flight Boxing with my gloves, head gear, and mouth guard – eager to demonstrate my power in the ring for the first time!

Let’s just say I did throw some punches… but I was also punched repeatedly in the face! Here are my biggest takeaways from my first sparring session:

1. If you can’t fight tired, you can’t win fights!
This the motto constantly shared by Jerry James – the coach and instructor at the gym. Towards the end of my first round of sparring, I was exhausted and no longer wanted to hold my hands up so I lowered them. After a few seconds, my head was snapped backwards with a quick jab and right hook. Needless to say, I now know I need to hold my hands up even when it feels physically impossible!

This is true in life as well.

Temptation conquers leaders when they are tired and discouraged. It is easy to resist the allure of sin when you are emotionally strong and have plenty of sleep; it is a completely different battle when your energy is depleted and the enemy offers temporary pleasure through illicit means. Sin always over-promises and under-delivers. It offers life but causes death.

2. I can take more punches than I thought!
I have only been punched in the face twice – both when I was a teenager. I wasn’t sure how I would react in a small ring with an opponent eager to let his fists connect with my head! After taking a few jabs, I was hit with a powerful straight cross.

I instantly smiled through my mouth guard and returned a few of my own shots!

There are moments in life that are terrifying – getting called into your boss’ office and hearing that your position is no longer needed; hearing the words of a spouse as he/she confesses unfaithfulness in your marriage; receiving a phone call that draws you into the valley of death – the trials of this world can bring excruciating pain.

Yet Jesus promises He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). We can say with confidence that all things work together for the good of those who love God (Rom. 8:28). Even in our trials we can rejoice, knowing that the testing of our faith produces perseverance (James 1:30).

3. Technique beats power.
Boxing is an art form that is mastered through decades of training. Powerful punches begin with the proper rotation of your feet and extend into your fists. Anyone who steps into a ring without proper training intent on throwing “haymakers” will quickly collapse under the skillful punches of their opponent.

In the same way, success in any area of life is produced through the invisible decisions made through years of commitment. A successful marriage is sustained through acts of sacrifice, romance, and devotion. A faithful father instills godly values into his children through quiet prayer and gentle instruction. A healthy church is grown through constant intercession, small acts of outreach, and proper conflict management.

It’s the seemingly insignificant actions that make the difference in a boxing match… and in our lives.


P.S. – If you live in the Sioux Falls area, I’d love for you to join me for a boxing class! They are Saturdays at 11am and the first class is free. Contact me if you are interested!

Hello Facebook.

facebook

Yeah… I’m back on Facebook.

This past April, I made a commitment to stay away from social media for the entirety of 2017.  I made it clear that social media is amoral – neither good nor bad. Unfortunately, I have noticed the ways in which I use social media as a means to brag about my accomplishments and bolster my pride.

So why the heck am I back on it? Honestly, I have one big reason:

It is where the people are!

The vision God has given me for my life is to help people follow Jesus. One of the best ways to do this is by have a presence where people are – namely, social media. I began using social media again roughly a month ago in order to invite people to an outdoor service my church was putting on. It was through these invitations that I saw numerous first time guests come through our doors.

Nevertheless, all my concerns regarding my use of social media were valid:

  • The human heart tends to worship self, not God. This is aggravated through each person having a personal page that can exalt them to celebrity-like status.
  • The primary reason I engaged in social media was to elevate my status in the eyes of others.
  • I believe the personal platform building done by many Christian leaders is a smokescreen for pride.

I fully believe I heard God when I decided to not use social media. Where I may have misheard Him is in the length of time. It seemed that he was leading me to reset my use for a period of time and be attentive to the effects it can have on my life.

So how long & how often will I use social media? I’m not entirely sure. My goal for now is to only post things that elevate those outside of me (local churches, businesses, other people) in an effort to consider other people as more important than myself (Philippians 2:3).

Who knows? Maybe I will write another “Goodbye Facebook” post in a few months!

 

Three Ways to Prevent Burnout

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This is the sixth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


Beautiful explosions filled the sky this past week as people around the United States celebrated Independence Day. One of the evenings when Ava (my almost 8 month old daughter) wasn’t able to sleep, we gazed out the window at these spectacular displays of firepower. The deep canon-like sound filled the room as small canisters burst and illuminated the darkness only to recede into debris.

These fireworks – beautiful displays of power which dissipate in seconds – are sadly a picture of pastoral ministry.

Jared Wilson, in his book The Pastors Justification, says it this way, “Flashy things tend to burn out quickly. And as many have learned, extraordinary gifts can take a man where paltry character cannot keep him.

Flashy ministry begins as a beautiful light that illuminates the darkness but decays into debris that litters the ground.

How can church leaders – pastors especially – prevent themselves from burning out quickly in the pilgrimage of ministry?

1. Meet with God.
This seems to be an obvious starting point but one that ministers neglect far too often. There are a multitude of pastors that only spend time in the Bible when preparing a sermon or Bible Study. This removes the demands of Scripture from the personal life of the pastor and only places them on the congregants.

Pastor – you cannot lead people to where you have not been yourself.

Each message must be immersed in the presence and power of God. We must discipline our schedules to prioritize time with God above every other demand. We are not CEOs leading small companies; we are mystics inviting people to experience the Living God.

2. Love Your Family.
Your identity is not rooted in your ministry activity – it is rooted in Jesus. Your family is the primary ministry God has given you; not your church. If you are sacrificing your family on the altar of ministry it is only a matter of time until you implode from the effects of your idolatry.

Guard your time. Recognize that most demands are not emergencies and do not require you to immediately leave your family. Be present; quit staring at your stupid smart phone each time you hear the ping of a notification.

3. Discover the Sacred in the Ordinary. 
To say the least, ministry is demanding. We rush from one meeting to the next, striving to offer counsel and comfort to those afflicted by deep distress. Margin is stripped away in the face of the urgent.

Friends, we need to slow down.

God is revealing himself through the beauty of nature, the face of a loved one, and the laugh of a child. My daughter Ava has shown me the power of wonder. She is amazed at everything – from the texture of food to petting a cat! If we are going to strive in ministry we need to ask God to restore the wonder we have lost by slowing down and being present in the theater of creation.


What advice would you offer to a church leader to prevent burn out? Let me know by leaving a comment!

You Might be a False Teacher

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This is the fifth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


Pastoral ministry is dangerous.

Being in front of a captive audience each week strokes the ego. Knowing that the majority of the people will believe what you say due to your authority as “pastor” can cause you to subtly build your own platform and diffuse your “majestic” ideas.

Combine this potential hazard with the unending pressure to increase attendance and giving numbers and it will create the perfect ministerial storm. Preaching will slowly drift from Gospel-centered proclamation to sharing helpful advice that is grounded in pop-psychology – this is where many churches find themselves today.

Jared Wilson makes this powerful observation about the role of Scripture in our preaching:
“Because the Bible is the only infallible authority over our lives, it is pastoral malpractice to treat it as a supporting document for our own good ideas. Our words ought to stand under Scripture, not vice-versa. When we come to the biblical text, it is meant to shape us; we are not to shape it. We are the ones to be malleable, not the Bible.”

I’m afraid that many pastors no longer tremble at the Word of God. Instead, we use it to proof-text our clever ideas in an attempt to generate an audience. Below is the main indicator that your preaching is driven by your creativity rather than Scripture.

You practice “Eisegesis” and call it relevance.

Now you are wondering how you practice something you have never heard of! When it comes to teaching the Bible, the proper way to preach is through exegesis. Exegesis literally means to “lead out of.” In other words, you allow the passage you are studying to determine the main point of your message. You seek to understand how the Spirit is speaking through His Word (this can be done in both topical preaching and verse-by-verse preaching).

Eisegesis is unbiblical, unhelpful, and ungodly. Eisegesis literally means to “lead into.” We practice eisegesis when we inject the poison of our opinions into the text and force the passage to bend to our meaning and will. We place ourselves in the position of God and twist Scripture to our own destruction (2 Peter 3:14-18).

For example, many pastors utilize Eisegesis when studying the narrative of David and Goliath. Rather than beginning in the text, the pastor will try to think of a giant that faces us as Christians – for example striving to have a good marriage. The pastor will then think of some “advice” on how to have a better marriage and package it as “Five Stones to Defeat Divorce.”

The pastor will then inject his meaning into the narrative by explaining that Goliath stands for the giant of divorce. He will continue to inject his meaning into the stones by labeling them:
1. Have a date night.
2. Express your love to each other.
3. Buy each other gifts.
4. (Helpful advice)
5. (Helpful advice)

The original text has absolutely nothing to do with marriage or defeating the giant of “divorce.” In an effort to generate an audience and appear relevant, the pastor will twist the text to meet his own agenda.

“But Tyler! All those things are good advice that Christians should practice!”

Good advice doesn’t save people, only the Gospel does that. Paul does not tell Timothy to preach good advice… he tells him to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2)! In the last days, people will gather around them false teachers that will share all the “good advice” that their itching hears long to listen to (2 Timothy 4:3). Many pastors have fallen into this category without even realizing it!

It’s time for judgment to begin with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It’s time for judgment to begin with the leaders in the church. Those of us that teach are judged with greater strictness and will gave an account for every empty word; especially our words which twist the Scriptures to support our own agenda (James 3:1).

I long for the day that Christians in the Western world exercise the noble character of the Bereans:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

Don’t take my word for anything I say. Examine the Scriptures to see if it’s true. This goes for every pastor and teacher that shares from the Bible.


Why do you think so many pastors inject their opinions into the Bible when they preach? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know by leaving a comment! 

 

 

 

The #1 Key to Spiritual Growth

concert

This is the fourth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


I remember the first megachurch I ever experienced. I was at a church conference in Texas and was speechless at the size of the church building as we approached it. It seemed as if multiple shopping malls joined together and somebody added “Christian” to the name!

Each night of the conference we had a church service that was open to the public. Thousands upon thousands of people flooded into this facility to sing songs and listen to people preach. At times it felt like I was in the midst of a rock concert with bright lights, smoke on the stage, and an incredible sound system.

Many people would write this church off as “worldly” due to its methodology. Truthfully, this is the same temptation that I fall into. I enjoy knowing the names, stories, and families of those around me in worship which is nearly impossible at a megachurch.

Does that mean they are wrong?

No.

Churches should strive for health, not size. There ARE unhealthy megachurches… but there’s also unhealthy small churches!

There is a movement within the church that began in the 1980s called the “Church Growth Movement.” This movement (usually) encourages churches to study their communities in order to ascertain who the “customers” are. Then each church should formulate non-threatening programs that meet a felt-need. The assumption behind this approach is the more programs & classes that a seeker is involved in, the more that person will grow spiritually.

Willow Creek Community Church, led by a pastor I highly admire (Bill Hybels), realized this assumption was deeply flawed. They decided to test the results of their programs through the REVEAL study.

With deep integrity, Willow Creek released the results of this study with an introduction by Bill Hybels honestly wrestling with the results:
You can imagine my reaction when three people whose counsel I value told me that the local church I’ve been the pastor of for more than three decades was not doing as well as we thought when it came to spiritual growth. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they said this wasn’t just their opinion. It was based on scientific research. Ouch.

Jarred Wilson, another pastor who was deeply influenced by the church growth movement, explains the results of the study, “Willow revealed what they discovered to be the number one catalyst for spiritual growth – Bible study.

Sometimes simple conclusions are the most challenging. Studying the Bible has taken secondary importance while brand management, building campaigns, and creative programs demand the attention of church leaders (in small and big churches!)

We can no longer neglect the Scriptures. One of the greatest ways we neglect the Bible is through the methods we use to preach. In my next post, I will share specifically what this looks like.


What are some ways our churches can prioritize the Bible over other demands? I’d love to hear from you – let me know by leaving a comment!