Moon Valley Bible Church Worship ::: June 13/2010 Weekend Recap

Welcome To Summer In Phoenix!!!

I kicked off Summer (OK, technically a week early) by leading worship at Moon Valley Bible Church this weekend.  I worked with their band and led at both the 9:00 & 10:30 AM services.  It was fun to have a gig close to home, literally 3 miles from where we live in Phoenix.

I wasn’t able to talk about World Vision because they recently sent one of their pastors to Uganda and they’re trying to sponsor kids from the project they’re involved in because of that trip.  Great to see kids getting help and people doing their part to help engage in the global community.

Here is the set list:

My Savior Lives (New Life Worship)
Your Name (New Life Worship)
Revelation Song (Gateway Worship)
You Gave Your Life (Andy Allen)
Today Is The Day
(Lincoln Brewster)

What are you doing this Summer?

Chapters

“What makes the better story?  Do that!”

This little quote/motto has kind of become a life precept for me and a silly way that I get my kids and friends to do stupid things.  When faced with even the most mundane situation, I’ll jokingly ask the question while basically implying that we should choose the unconventional and crazy in place of predictable and expected.  You never call your friends to say “Dude, I just made a very rational decision.”  Nope.  You always call your friends and say “You’ll never believe what I just did?” and then hopefully laugh together as you tell some ridiculous story.

Then there are the other times.  The choices we get to make (and some that get made for us) that have huge implications and massive impact in your life.  The part of our story where one chapter ends….the page gets turned….there’s a big bold number at the top of the next page….and the new chapter begins.  Many times this is when faith gets written into our story.

This week marks one chapter closing and another beginning for me and my family.  This was my last week as the Worship Director for Living Streams Church.  Easter was the last weekend that I would serve in that role and now we are looking to God for the “what’s next?”  After many months of dialoging, evaluating, praying and wrestling to discover where the journey is leading, it’s clear to us and the church leadership that now is the time for a shift.  Changes like this are always tough because of friendships and relationships.  Changes like this can also be beautiful because God’s plan for us opens up and we get to chase after His calling on our lives.

We have no doubt that God brought us to Phoenix to serve at Living Streams Church for a very specific purpose and season.  We love the people and staff at this church.  We are so grateful for the life-long friendships we have established here, we are better people because of it.  We also believe God has something exciting and new for us and for this church as we transition forward.

So now, the “what’s next?”  I get to ask my question….what makes the better story? We’re gonna do that!

We’re going to make sure our story is one of faith.  We’re going to watch and listen as God opens and closes doors in front of us.  We’re excited and scared…full of anticipation and wrestling with self-doubts…believing truth and questioning the status quo…and somehow in all of it, we’re uncomfortably comfortable waiting.  We get to teach our kids to trust in God and His plan for our lives as we engage on this adventure together.  We get to live the story of God right now.

Bring It On!

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

7 Practices - CoverThis is the first book I’ve read by Andy Stanley.  I’ve heard from several friends that I should check out some of his books, and I’m glad I finally got around to it.  This book lays out some great, practical and implementable guidelines to approach and measure effectiveness in your approach to ministry.  I thought their approach to looking at these as steps and practices rather than just implementing a new program was well thought out.  Here is a quick listing of the 7 practices:

  1. Clarify the Win
  2. Think Steps, Not Programs
  3. Narrow the Focus
  4. Teach Less for More
  5. Listen to Outsiders
  6. Replace Yourself
  7. Work On It

The book opens up with a fictional story that outlines these practices in a practical real-world scenario.  Following the story, the authors explore each practice in depth.  The application to church ministry is very clear and well defined.  I enjoyed the many examples they used from their own church and ministry experience.

I really felt this was a helpful book as I’m part of a leadership team that is trying to cast vision and move our church into the future.  I’m hopeful that our entire team will go through this book together and explore the concepts in more depth and consider the application for our ministry here.

These practices also have a place in the marketplace and business world.  In full-time ministry, or in a business that you’re wanting to see move forward with purpose and vision, this book is a worthwhile read.

Publisher’s Info:

There’s no scoreboard in the sanctuary, and the only plate is probably for the offering. But every church leader needs to know how to win, and every congregation needs to know when to cheer. This insightful book speaks to every church leader who yearns for a simpler, more effective approach to ministry. An engaging parable about one overwhelmed pastor is followed by an overview of seven successful team practices, each one developed and applied in a ministry setting. Reinforced by relevant discussion questions, these clear, easy, and strategic practices can turn any ministry into a winning team.

Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If you are satisfied with those results, you don’t need this book. If not, it’s time for a change.

Like your own personal trainer, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry is an insightful guide for any leader who yearns for a simpler, more effective approach to ministry. Here are seven strategic principles that when put into play will bring focus and clarity to everything you do and turn your ministry into a winning team.

Natural Church Development

Natural Church DevelopmentOur staff was asked to read this book as a topic for discussion about the health and growth of our church.  Not the most current book we could read on this topic, as this book was written in 1996.  I felt the authors ended up making a couple decent observations, but the journey to get there was somewhat excruciating.

This book reminded me of a college text book.  The writing style is dry, clinical, academic and scientific.  Because of this, at times I found it difficult to track with the idea or concept they were trying to get across.  I have read quite a few other books on this subject that have done a better job of sharing research and observations without the need to write so technically.

Perhaps this book was groundbreaking in 1996, but I didn’t really feel that there was anything profound being presented.  I did find it interesting that in their research, one small observation was that high quality growing churches laugh a lot.  I do feel that many people believe they must ‘get serious’ about going to church, and God’s Joy tends to get squashed in the way people express their faith.  I love to laugh.  I tend to hang out with people who enjoy laughing.  If you ask me, God is too good and life is too short to be grumpy…especially in church!

I will say that I appreciated the authors balanced take on how the church needs organization and structure, but needs to be allowed to be the organic organism that it is in order to be healthy.  He talks about the problems with getting stuck in one paradigm extreme or the other, and the benefits of finding the balance between both necessary elements (organization & organic) that make a dynamic & healthy church.

Publisher’s Info:

Critics of the church growth movement have often emphasized the need for quality congregations. We should not focus on numerical growth, but rather, we should concentrate on qualitative growth.

Christian Schwarz has done extensive research world-wide and found that healthy, growing churches seem to share eight quality characteristics. These characteristics are:

  1. Empowering leadership
  2. Gift-oriented ministry
  3. Passionate spirituality
  4. Functional structures
  5. Inspiring worship service
  6. Holistic small groups
  7. Need-oriented evangelism
  8. Loving relationships

Schwarz uses the illustration of a barrel with eight staves to symbolize the eight quality characteristics. The barrel can only hold water to the height of the lowest stave. So too, Schwarz argues, a church can only grow as far as their ‘Minimum factor,’ which is the lowest of the eight quality characteristics in their church. He challenges churches to resist the temptation to work on improving areas in which they already excel, for by doing this they do not increase their minimum factor or their church quality.

Thriving As An Artist In The Church

Thriving as an Artist in the ChurchI really appreciate Rory’s experience and dedication to ministry. He does articulate some very insightful things relating to working and serving as an artist within the church. His perspectives are rich because he has worked with many different artists, and done more than just music in the church.

There were a couple chapters that I connected with personally, and found some things I could take away with me. His thoughts and observations about negativity in the church were right on. Then his challenges to be a good leader and love the church where God has put you are great.

I think this book would be good read for younger/greener worship leaders. For me, most of this book was a discussion of many things I’ve lived and encountered through my years in ministry. I can see how most of the chapters could work well as a discussion with individuals and small groups of artists.

Publisher’s Info:

An excellent resource for both individuals and arts ministry teams, the book includes slice-of-church-life scenarios, group discussion questions, and personal action steps.

It’s not easy being an Artist in the church.

But whatever your passion—music, visual art, drama, dance, writing, technical arts—you can not only survive, but thrive. And the rewards far outweigh the pressures of weekly services, artistic differences, and relational conflicts. After all, where else could you consistently make a contribution of eternal significance, experience deep community with other artists, and grow closer to God as a result?

Thriving as an Artist in the Church is a practical guide, full of wisdom and pastoral guidance, that will help you surmount the obstacles and flourish in your ministry. It’s packed with examples, discussion questions, personal action steps, and mega-doses of encouragement. Most important, it tackles the real-life issues every artist in the church has to deal with:

Sustaining passion • Developing key relational skills
Dealing with rejection and failure
Cultivating confidence
Resolving artistic differences
And much more!

Written by an artist for artists, this book will help make your ministry experience sustainable and life-giving so you can fall in love with the church all over again.A composer, songwriter, author, and speaker, Rory is a graduate of the Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University and served for twenty years as music director at Willow Creek Community Church.

The Hole In Our Gospel

The Hole In Our GospelI’ll be honest, I approached this book with a bit of an attitude.  Having worked with World Vision since 1998, I have read a lot about previous WV presidents, and heard many people sing the praises of these fine leaders.  I’m not really one who is enamored by people and their positions, and I expected this book to be a big Rich Stearns promo…my assumptions were completely misplaced.

Rich writes in a very conversational and accessible style.  The transparency in telling his story is powerful.  I was particularly taken with the way he honestly admits where he has missed it, and how he’s doubted God at times.  I was deeply impacted by the way God brought him to take his position with World Vision, and the character of a man to give up so much material and positional success to serve the poor.

Beyond a discussion of the statistics and great need in our world, I feel that Rich uncovers some truths in how the Christian church is missing part of our missional and faith mandate to share the whole gospel of Jesus.  The challenge to give more than just money, but to invest our time and our talents in serving the poor, the widow and the orphan is clear.  And the reasons to do so are far deeper than feeling guilty because we have more than people living in poverty; our motivations should be fueled by a passion and obedience to our calling as followers of Jesus.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in discovering more about the huge needs in our world brought on by poverty and disease.  It will also prompt Christians to consider where our priorities lie, and just how passionate we are about living out the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.

Publisher’s Info:

“Preach the Gospel always.  Use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi

It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.  His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.  It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.  Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.  Stearns believes it can happen again.

World Vision Artist

World Vision Artist AssociateI realized that I haven’t really taken the time in this blog to go into much detail about our work with World Vision.  I’ve been a World Vision Artist Associate since 1998.  When we tour, perform, and lead worship, we take time to talk about the needs of kids in our world who are vulnerable to extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.  At our shows, or in services, we give our audience a chance to be part of the solution in reaching out to the widow and the orphan by supporting World Vision through Child Sponsorship.

God has been so gracious, and we’ve seen 2,500 kids sponsored over all these years!!!

Traveling with World Vision, I’ve been to Africa twice (Pam came along on one trip), and to Central America.  Witnessing the poverty in our world has changed us completely.  There are 13 Million orphans in Africa alone, because of HIV/AIDS.  The need is huge….but HOPE is bigger.

It’s also important for me to share that we aren’t out talking about World Vision to do an advertisement or plug an organization.  We are fans of World Vision because of how they approach their work, and the way they serve people in need.  We’ve seen first hand the impact child sponsorship can make, and how loving on kids through sponsorship helps them realize and actually believe they are valuable.  Most importantly, World Vision does this to share the love of Jesus with people all over our world.

Sponsoring a child, you will be making a real difference in the lives of real people.  If you have any questions about how this works, send me an email and I would be happy to talk with you.  If you are an artist and would like to represent World Vision in your shows, let me know and I’ll connect you with the Artist Associate office.

Please take time to CLICK HERE and consider sponsoring a child today!  Your generosity will change that child, and change you!!!

God Bless –

Andy
andyallen@andyallen.com