July comes and because of the layoffs I have a whole bunch of new responsibility. I’m not going to lie – I love it. I like having a lot of things to do…that is until the third week of July when I thought I was going to go crazy as I was already working 50 or so hours a week with just my own stuff and now I had more…including Life Groups – which require a lot of attention. So, I begin the process of reorganizing and prioritizing my life. – Yeah that is a big pain butt. Seriously, no wonder so many people don’t change stuff…it’s too dang hard and exhausting. Alas…it has to be done.
Leanne’s trip to New Orleans went well. She had all women on her team and they did great. July also brought the discovery of facebook and the downfall of my blogging. I was just too busy and with facebook all you have to do is type a sentence. Besides July being an unexpected catalyst for me to reexamine everything in my life (which I am still doing) it also brought with it another good thing. The former pastor of our church began the process of reconciliation with his wife and family…not the church – but at least he made an effort with his family.
Finally, July produced one of the best films of the year. Yup, that’s right I speak of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 – Tee Hee – not really…I speak of The Dark Knight. The moral ambiguity in that movie caused me to want to write a dissertation on the realities of good and evil and the perceptions of those viewing it. The Dark Knight is also the last movie I have seen in a theatre this year. I know…it’s sad.
As a pastor, husband, staff member, father, etc… it was difficult to watch our church hit its lowest point. We had gone from roughly 375 (with kids) on a Sunday morning to our lowest point 156. Add to that the fact that no one was really giving and it created a stress I have not known before.
We prepared for a fall kick off with a message series called Uprising but the realities of how bad the fallout ultimately was set in and everyone could see and feel it.
Leanne, Bella, and I (thanks to Devin) got a chance to take a quick trip up to Big Bear to rest and refreshed before we pushed into September.
August ended up being the hardest and most disappointing month of the year – and this is why— I went to the Leadership Summit. It was great. However the problem is when I get the chance to get away and be challenged God destroys me…and he destroyed me. I sat praying and God reminded me of a dream he ha given me many years ago. A dream that unbeknownst to me he also gave Leanne even before we met each other. Over the past three years we have forgotten, stopped planning, stopped praying about it…and the realities of that hit me like a ton of bricks.
I can’t remember a time in my life where I had felt so disobedient to God. In some ways it was freeing, in other ways it created more struggles. You see this is what I believe, I believe good ideas do not necessarily mean that God has given you vision. I have a lot of good ideas and those flow from where I see God taking us or a ministry 5, 10, 15, 30 years from now. The problem comes when you have to realize that one, just because you have vision does not mean it is the vision God has or wants for your current ministry – and two, that if you instead of God is pushing said vision – problems inevitably ensue.
Which brings me to the idea of restraint and submission. Two words that suck! I hate them with everything in my being – but it is those two words that I realized I do not exercise and I need to.
Big month! Fall kick off, start of fall TV, began the question of the day on my blog, oh yeah and I had coffee with the former lead pastor of Revolution.
Our fall kick off went ok. It actually probably went really well to set the trajectory of our church but you know how it is, we are our own worst enemies. You want the numbers to come quicker, you want people to give, and you want people to volunteer – thus are the internal struggles of most pastors in America.
Still reeling from the revelations of August I was in a pretty confused place. Not knowing fully what my role was at Revolution whilst at the same time dreaming of huge dreams for the church, my family’s future, and the specific calling God has placed on my life. By the way in case you don’t know this yet…life and all the things that come with it is sometimes a pain in the ass. Thankfully I had Jesus, some great friends, a supportive wife, fall TV, and Coldplay. (Which if you do not own Viva La Vida I can not call you friend…well, maybe I can…I’ll have to pray about it.)
I was glad to finally sit down and chat with the former lead pastor of Revolution. I was also glad that all desires to punch him in the jugular and rip out an eye Kill Bill style had faded away. He shared with me his story – all of which I already knew – and then I talked. I was honest with him and I do not regret anything that came out of my mouth. I continue to entrust him and his family to God and although he may do things I completely disagree with and multiple levels ultimately I am not going to try and do God’s job.
All in all I wish him and his family the best. There are still wounds -there are still many people who are hurt – but such is life.
This is my favorite month of the year. I love the fall and October screams fall – except in LA where it was 90 degrees for most of the month. October also holds a special day, Leanne and mines anniversary. We celebrated our third and although sometimes I feel like a bad omen (see Hurricane Katrina, mid west tornado outbreak, and fall of senior pastor) I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family to help pick me up and cheer me on.
October also brought my favorite message series I was ever apart of. BOO! It was a month long series looking at the realities of the spiritual warfare. Loved it! That could be because I like to get scared and scare people. Just ask some of my friends from college – I’m sure they can tell you some stories of the abandoned pool, the overgrown cemetery incident, and of course the spook light event of 2003. (Maybe one day I will share these stories on my blog)
Leanne and I threw a harvest party at my dads place. It was the first party Leanne and I had thrown in a while and I was afraid no one was going to show up. 58 people later I realized that we are awesome. ☺ October also brought my daughter talking more than she ever has. She began to string two words together and sometimes even three. She also decided it would be a good idea to start climbing everything. (That has not stopped)
Revolution’s annual Bug-A-Boo was a huge success as we changed formats and made it neighborhood based instead of one giant location. The truth that I think is missed in ministry is that it is important to be both attractional and missional. Its not either or…. it’s both and.
Lastly, October brought the return of 30 Rock and with that the world began to feel normal once again. (Even if some people hate Tina Fey…Angelo!)
A month of giving thanks and in a year filled with so much drama, transition, anger, hurt, and growth I had plenty to be thankful for. The truth is…it could have been worse. At the height of everything I don’t think I believed it could be worse but in retrospect it could have been worse. Revolution could have closed its doors. Families could have said no to reconciliation. A giant meteor could have wiped out al of southern California. Disneyland could have shut down.
For all of the crap that happened in 2008 there were still people that came to know Christ, people baptized, people introduced to Jesus for the first time. There was still lots of laughter, and relationships that were made stronger.
For me I learned more about leadership in 2008 then I have in my entire life. I was reminded of the future God has in store for my family, I made some great new friends and strengthened some old ones. I began to grow up in a new way showing (sometimes unsuccessfully) restraint. I have friends that had new babies and new marriages…all in all November gave me a chance to pause and see that in the myriad of rotting poo there was some beautiful flowers and trees growing.
In November Revolution brought on a (free) executive pastor and a (free) ministry resident who I firmly believe will end up being an incredible pastor and leader.
Of course there was Thanksgiving also. Leanne and I hosted this year and Phil (one of my best friends) was in town. It was a lot more stressful then I had expected. We began prepping two days before and the day of as I was stressing out as Leanne and Tanya went and ran the Turkey trot (for which I am very proud of her). I felt like Martha Stewart and Emeril with a hint of…DON’ T TALK TO ME WHEN I’M COOKING OR I AM GOING TO RIP OFF YOUR FACE. Good times. I don’t share the kitchen well.
The last bit of November was filled with preparation for our Vintage Christmas event. One of our biggest events ever. After everything our church had gone through we needed a boost, something that said –were still here and we are moving on and we want to continue to bless the communities around us…And we did just that.
December quite frankly flew by. Vintage Christmas was a huge success. One of our Life Group families finalized their adoption. There was shopping, and decoration, and preparation for the New Year. These 31 days seemed to only be 10. The year ended with lots of reflections. Many of which I have put in my year-end review.
I got Leanne her first bike ever for Christmas and she in turn convinced me to use our Christmas money to get a bike for myself. We also will e moving to Los Alamitos. We found a small house to rent and we are excited. It’s closer to the office, church, most of our friends, the beach, and Le Creperie!!! Mmmmmm crepes…SOOOOO GOOD!
Looking back at 2008 I can’t help but think this will be year that I will actually look back on with fondness. Not for all of the stupidity but for all the hope that was shown and for a group of people to continue to press on trusting God even amongst all the different obstacles. I am proud to say I was apart of all that has happened because I realize it wasn’t us but God through us.
Happy New Year’s and may next year be filled with growth, challenges, and joy. (But hopefully not as drastic of challenges…☺)