A Conversation with an Anglican Priest

I had the honor of interviewing my friend Christopher Haberman. Christopher is an Anglican Priest and church planter of the Church of the Resurrection in Sioux Falls. We talked about church planting, Anglicanism, liturgy, communion, among many other things. The full conversation is below!

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page to watch the video)

Changes Coming to Renovation Church

One of the questions I have been wrestling with is how we can give more freedom to the Holy Spirit to lead in our services. The model of having a paid professional do all of the speaking & leading is not a biblical model. Below is a video sharing some of the things we are going to experiment with this summer. If you live in the Garretson area, I’d love for you to be my guest. Our service is on Sundays at 10am at the Garretson School!
http://www.renovationchurchsd.com

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to see the video)

Church Membership Class (Online)!

As many of you know, I am the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church. I just finished recording our membership class so that people can “attend” the class when it is convenient for them. If you are curious about the story, values, vision, or beliefs of Renovation Church, check out the membership class!

(If you are reading this in your e-mail you will have to go to the actual page to see the video).

 

Low Attendance & Insecurity

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My understanding of leadership is that a leader is a person who is bold, courageous, and confident. Leaders aren’t perfect but they are pretty close. Leaders refuse to dwell on weakness and insecurity – instead, they exploit their strengths in order to make a bigger impact.

Well, I’m going to break all the rules of leadership with this blog post. I have been going back-and-forth with myself on how honest & transparent I want to be through a public medium such as a blog. I’ve been told that pastors should only share their insecurities with other pastors so they don’t cause the people who follow them to doubt their leadership.

But this is what I know: Every Sunday I remind the people of Renovation Church that we serve a crucified Savior. The message of the cross is a stumbling block for it displays Jesus at His absolute weakest point. He is abandoned by his disciples, rejected by the crowds, beaten by the Roman Guards, and crucified completely naked – this is true humiliation. Yet it was precisely at His weakest point that He conquered death, sin, and the grave. It is in our weakness that Christ’s power is perfected within us (2 Cor. 12:9).

So here’s my confession to you: I am deeply insecure about who I am as a pastor. Two weeks ago I had the honor of performing child dedications and we had around 70 people in attendance (which is a good Sunday for us).

Yesterday, we had 33 people in attendance. This is the lowest our attendance has been in years. I have nothing to blame it on – it was a beautiful day and there were no major events happening in the community that I am aware of. In my own sinful pride (self-pity is another form of pride) I became extremely discouraged when I got home after the service (just ask my wife!). Rather than praising God for the fact that He brought 33 souls – people loved by Him – under my care on Sunday, I complained and felt like a failure for all the people that WEREN’T there.

That’s a problem.

It’s a problem that I find my identity in attendance numbers & budget numbers.

It’s a problem that I am too afraid of people doubting me that I refuse to be transparent about how insecure I am when people skip church.

It’s a problem if I cover up the pain of people leaving the church through spiritual jargon rather than dealing with my real emotions.

It’s a problem because it’s in direct contradiction to the crucified Savior whom I worship. The One who emphasizes weakness & transparency as true strength.

Since yesterday afternoon I have been continually preaching the Gospel to my own heart. Here are the truths I am reminding myself continually in an effort to fight for joy. I pray this reflection encourages you as you begin a new week. To be honest, I’m writing this primarily for myself so that the next time I am discouraged I can read this post and remind myself of these marvelous truths:

1. My identity is the result of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done.
As I shared above, self-pity comes from the same root as arrogance – pride. It is an obsession with “self” and a demand that we get what we deserve. The truth is, if any of us got what we “deserved” we would be in Hell right now – separated from God as a result of our sin. The beauty of the Gospel is that my identity isn’t the result of who I am or what I have done but because of who Jesus is and what He has done through his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. My identity needs to be rooted in the Gospel – not some cheap form of “success” in the church world.

 2. It is not my job to build the church – Jesus promises to do that.
Renovation Church does not belong to me – it belongs to Christ. He is the One called to grow the church – I am simply called to be faithful. I need to remember that “growth” doesn’t always look like increased attendance and giving. Sometimes growth can look like subtraction (i.e. Jesus once “grew” his movement from 15,000 people to 12 after a controversial message – see John 6)

3. Weakness is not a liability.
One of the sports I love to participate in is boxing. When you are in a boxing ring you do not want to show any weakness or openings. As soon as you show an opening you are usually rebuked by a swift punch to the face! The “foolishness” of the cross is that the way we display Christ as our treasure is to BOAST in our weaknesses (1 Cor. 11:30). We openly talk about our insecurity, our weakness, and our doubts. That is what makes Christian leadership distinctively Christian. We do not hide from our brokenness & sickness because we trust the One who came not for the healthy but for the sick (Mark 2:17).

These are three truths I am reminding myself of this week. I pray our attendance increases this coming Sunday – but what if it doesn’t? What we if go from 33 people to 20 people? I will fight for joy. I will celebrate the people who are there rather than despair about those who aren’t. I will remember that it’s seriously amazing that even one person entrusts himself/herself to my spiritual leadership. I will be honest about my own brokenness with the goal of pointing people to Christ – not Tyler Ramsbey.


P.S. – I’m not writing this to get your pity. Many of you have FAR more difficult things you are wrestling with than insecurity & low attendance at church. Instead, my hope is that this will encourage you to preach the Gospel to your own soul. Have a great week!

Challenge #1: Be Present

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Credit: Charles Wilson (http://charleslwilson.smugmug.com) for more pictures.

Here’s my latest blog post for The Blue Light Blog & Podcast. You can also read my weekly column in the Garretson Gazette if you live in the area!


One of the best ways individual community members can add value to Garretson is deceptively simple – being fully present. Community has slowly shifted from being a shared life to shared space. In order to return to the original concept of community, we must refocus on having a shared life together. One of the greatest obstacles to this shared life is our obsession with technology – especially with our phones.

I am currently reading a remarkable book called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Many of us have a behavior addiction to technology – especially the use of smartphones. Based on a large study of smartphone users, the average person looks at their phone for three hours a day and checks their phone 40 times a day!

Eventually winter is going to be over (I know it doesn’t feel like it!) and my challenge to all of us is to learn how to be present. As summer arrives and you spend time at one of the parks in Garretson or simply go on a walk around your neighborhood, resist the urge to stare at your phone. When you are at a local event waiting for it to start, refuse to scroll through Facebook. Instead, seek to be fully present to the people around you.

What if we fought through the awkwardness of not pulling out our phones and instead engaged a real human being in conversation? The tragedy of our technology is that the more connected we become online, the more isolation we experience in the real world. To make Garretson an attractive community, let’s seek to be fully present to family, friends, and strangers – recognizing that real conversations are more impactful than online dialogue.

My Problems with Christianity (Message)

For those of you that live in the South Dakota/Minnesota area, you know that we had the joy of a Spring Snow Storm this past weekend! As a result of the weather, we were forced to cancel the special Sunday evening service we were hosting at the American Legion in Garretson. Instead, I did a special online service and shared a message from 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Here’s the message – I pray it challenges you in your faith and helps you understand how much God loves you.

(If you are reading this in your email, you will have to go to the actual page to see the video) –

Growth or Health (The Blue Light)

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As some of you know, I have been asked by the City of Garretson to make The Blue Light Blog & Podcast the official blog & podcast for the community. I will cross-post the blogs here for those of you interested in reading them! See below for the most recent one:


At the mayoral forum two weeks ago, one of the questions posed to the candidates was, “How big do you want Garretson to grow?” This is a question that many people in our community ponder. We know that Garretson is at a critical point for a small town – we have new businesses and people coming to our community and we need to decide whether we will encourage or discourage growth. We have all seen small towns slowly lose businesses… young families move away… and the local school can no longer operate. If we simply allow ourselves to drift without any type of plan, we will always drift into complacency rather than action.

But there’s the thing – what if we have the wrong focus? What if instead of asking, “How can we cause Garretson to grow?” we should ask, “How can we cause Garretson to be a healthy community?” If we focus on sheer numerical growth and marketing for our small town, we MIGHT grow but I do not think the growth will be sustainable. On the other hand, if the members of our community truly seek to care for their neighbors, get involved with local government, and join community organizations to promote the wellbeing of all – we will see healthy numerical growth.

Over the next few weeks I am planning on doing a series of posts that will encourage all of us with ways we can help Garretson be a HEALTHY community. The definition of community has slowly changed to a shared area or space where people live. What if we returned to the original meaning of community which is that of a “shared life” or “public spirit?” What if Garretson was known for both radical hospitality and beautiful parks? What if the members of Garretson displayed authentic care for one another? What if we realized that we exist for more than just our own personal happiness and comfort?

These are all questions I am hoping to wrestle with over the next few weeks. If you have any thoughts on them I’d love to hear from you – please send an e-mail to tyler@renovationchurchsd.com!

By the way, there is a planning meeting for GROW Garretson this Saturday at 3pm at Screwballz Bar & Grill. I will be at the meeting and would love to connect with you. This will be an opportunity to learn how you can help Garretson become a truly healthy community!