Mark's Blog

Monday, October 23, 2006

Too Close ...
How close is too close? I was in line at SunTrust bank last week and the lady behind me in the teller line was standing too close. I'm probably a little more paranoid about this kind of thing than most people, but I'm pretty sure she was in my personal space. I think she was the "close talker" from Seinfeld. Is there proper etiquette for that kind of thing? I'm pretty sure the front of her shoe was against the back of mine. She kept her hand in my jacket pocket while she talked over my shoulder to the teller. I would imagine most of you guys are online bankers and never have to deal with this.

I am curious - what is the longest you have ever waited in line - and what were you waiting for? I'm sure my answer would have something to do with Disney World.


Monday, October 16, 2006

The Fastest Growing Church

Let me start by saying I know that numbers are not the only thing that matters. However, church attendance is a pretty good indicator of what is going on at your congregation. If your church averages the same attendance for five consecutive years, while each year you are "adding" 25-30 families, something isn't adding up. Where are the people going?

I know there are times when churches grow deeper spiritually, closer to each other and to their maker. But I'm speaking about John Doe on Seville Street in Florence who doesn't know the Lord and we might work next to him every day for 27 years. What's our responsibility to that guy? I've heard "all you can do is be a good example at work", but I know a guy that asks the man at the check-out counter at the 7\11 if he's been 'washed in the blood of the lamb'? Maybe you think that's too extreme. But what do we need to do?

43% of the people in Lauderdale county indicated on the 2000 census that they were not affiliated with ANY church - shouldn't we be reaching a least a fraction of these people? I read an article today that said (Transfer Growth) "moving eggs from one basket to another is not growing". I know that sounds elementary, but I'm not sure we really understand what "church growth" really is all about. Isn't church growth about sharing the Gospel with those who don't know the good news and adding them to a growing, healthy body? If there are over 16,000 people in Lauderdale county who claim they are not affiliated with any fellowship - shouldn't we figure out how to let them know about ours?

(Note: Please don't respond with the "just because they didn't indicate a church affiliation doesn't mean they don't know Christ - I'm speaking in generalities. I think we'd rather WASTE time arguing about who is "saved" and who isn't, than to take the time to share the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus with them - and how that's the MOST IMPORTANT thing they will EVER hear!)

If you look at the list of the 100 fastest growing churches in the U.S. (, you'll see they are adding members by the hundreds, even thousands EACH YEAR! I notice there is a church in Birmingham on the list, The Church at Brookhills. They have added over 2500 members during the past two years alone. Curious if anyone who is reading this knows anything about that church? Or, better yet does anyone want to venture as to why these churches are adding members by the thousands and we (churches of Christ in general) are struggling to hold on to the members we have? Is it our worship? Our classes? Our leadership? Our outreach? Our fellowship? Our relationships? What?? The Southern Baptist consistently have 30-35 churches on this list. What are they doing that we're not?

OK, that's a lot of questions, but I'm seriously wanting some opinions. You're not going to hurt my feelings. I know we have readers from Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and Georgia who read all these blogs - and I want to know about the growing churches in your community. What are they doing that other churches are not?

Thanks - MK

Monday, October 02, 2006

Soccer - ROC - Kids - Life - James

Jim, Meredith, and Krista (I think that covers everybody) - somehow I think it would be easier to take the three of you to lunch on Mondays than to take time writing a blog. I guess I haven't gotten the hang of this yet. I sometimes feel stupid writing about stuff that I think people already know - because the three people who read this see me on a regular basis.

Obviously, Upward keeps me pretty busy. I can see how some of the larger churches, that have multiple Upward programs, have a full time staff member that ONLY deals with Upward. It is a very time consuming ministry. With 165 kids and hundreds of parents and grandparents at our fields every Saturday - we are beginning to see results. Too many to mention here - but relationships are forming with families who have NEVER had a personal relationship with Jesus - and that's exciting!

Working at the R.O.C. continues to be a challenge. Every day is different - the challenge is to be salt and light to the people we come in contact with each day. People enter our doors every day from 7:00 am - 9:00 pm and they are just like me. They may have had a 'bad' morning, they have needs and are hurting, they are happy, sad, excited or tired. Some of them are willing to share and others want to be left alone.

My kids are great - busy with homework, soccer, pre-school and other activities - which means Gena and I are busy with that stuff too. I think the challenge for parents (at least in my house) is to balance the different things that LIFE throws at you. The job, the schoolwork, the sports and plays and then it's fall break time - so you HAVE to go on a vacation, right?

Finally I guess I'd have to mention our CrossTrainer class - we've seen tremendous growth at Cross Point over the past two years and it seems to be in this age group. This group started as one class with 30-40 members and it has grown to three classes with over 100 members in a short time. I'm currently teaching one of the classes on the book of James. I think the class is enjoying the study. I'm using Rubel Shelly's book, 'What Christian Living is All About', as a reference. It seems that James could have been written a few months ago with his timely topics - faith, works, trials, temptations, showing favoritism, what we should or shouldn't say or do, true wisdom and that's just the first three chapters. It's been fun - it's a challenge to teach your peer group - because they know me better than anyone at Cross Point.

I guess that's it for today - maybe I won't wait 47 days to write again.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Shepherd Boys

I received an email and a few pictures from Mike yesterday. I thought somebody might enjoy seeing the boys in their school uniforms. Gates and Riley said they looked liked Pilgrims. Mike said they had found a house to rent and hoped to move in about a week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

One more quick post...

Mike called last night and everything is going well. The kids are in school - Mike is teaching - Rebecca is done fine. Their priority now is to find a house. He is trying to get a Huntsville phone number through skype - we will be able to call and reach them without running up $10,000 in long distance charges. I'll keep you posted. Keep them in your prayers.

Whatever It Takes

Well you knew it wouldn't be long. I'm back from my third Upward conference and I had to put a shot of Caz in a blog. I am working today on my thoughts for Sunday nights Outreach Group kick-off. The same thought continues to run through my mind and it comes directly from Caz's uplifting testimony - "IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!"

Caz always asks the same question at EVERY conference. Why do we "do what we do" at our churches. Why do we have Upward soccer? Why do we have a youth ministry? Why do we have a preacher speak on Sunday mornings? Why do we have a ROC? and on and on we go - the answer that it always boils down to is - "To reach the LOST".

Pray for our Outreach Groups this week - some will stay the same - others will change. Pray that we will be able to take OURSELVES (my way or I'll quit, my way or I'll change groups, my way or I'll start a group that will do it MY way) out of the equation. Pray that we will do things HIS way (That's Christ - not Caz).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mind Games

A lot of stuff in my head tonight... but I won't let it all out here.

Not to be too much of a sap, sissy or girly man - but I really do miss my friends. I needed to talk to Mike Wednesday night about "church stuff", but that call can't be made anymore. We talked for two years about them leaving and now they are really gone.

For the Killen's the weekend usually ment a movie with the Shepherd's. With a new PG movie - it ment all ten of us would load up our backpacks with goobers, buncha crunch, twizlers, a few cokes and take in a show.

I'm not always sure of the phrase, "God's will be done", or "They were called to _________". By not sure, I mean - we say it - but do we really believe it?

I need
...more patience
...a stronger faith love more have compassion be more understanding. be less judgemental tame my tongue. NEVER talk about people. be a better husband, father and son

I preach "It's not about me", but I don't always live that way.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Thanks Krista for your comment on my last post. That list really "freaked" me out. I guess you don't have to believe everything Nelson says in his book - but it made a lot of sense to me. I hope the outreach groups enjoy the study over the next few weeks.

Not much happening today

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