Tuesday, December 30, 2008

LCC Year in Review

The end of the year is the time I review our 12 month attendance at Lighthouse Community Church. It is important to measure how well we are doing at achieving our goal(s). One of those measures is how well we are doing at reaching more people each year. If our mission is to "help people discover the joy of a life committed to Jesus Christ" and we choose to do that by creating opportunities for people to: praise God in worship, grow in Christ in small groups, and serve others in the power of the Holy Spirit - then we have to keep track of how well we are doing at helping people reach those "bases."

Church attendance reporting is one way we measure how well we are doing at helping people to "praise God in worship." Sometimes church attendance reporting can be confusing because our denomination keeps records Sept 1-Aug 31...and those are usually the numbers I am working with at our Annual Meeting. However, I prefer a Jan-Dec calendar year for budget and attendance review.

I think you will see much to praise God for.

Below are the quarterly averages, and a 12 month average.

2008 Report:
Avg Att 2008 Q1 (Jan-Mar): 169
Avg Att 2008 Q2 (Apr-Jun): 155
Avg Att 2008 Q3 (Jul-Sep): 155
Avg Att 2008 Q4 (Oct-Dec): 166
2008 TOTAL AVERAGE ATT: 161.25

2007 Report:
Avg Att 2007 Q1 (Jan-Mar): 120.5
Avg Att 2007 Q2 (Apr-Jun): 118.8
Avg Att 2007 Q3 (Jul-Sep): 116.5
Avg Att 2007 Q4 (Oct-Dec): 126.3

WHAT A BLESSING! Our second service effort has definitely been a benefit and a blessing. An increase of over 40 people per week in worship! Anytime you can have more than one hook in the water at once, you increase your chances of catching fish! In fact, this is why many churches will continue a second service, even after adding space or building a new building.

Of the 40 additional people each week, approximately 12 are children, and about 28 are adults. So, our effort to reach families for Christ is meeting with success.

For a little historical perspective, consider the following 12 month reports. 2003 was the first year I have a record of on my computer...the following are 12 month (Jan-Dec) average attendance reports:

2003 - 85
2004 - 100.7
2005 - 107
2006 - 115.2
2007 - 120.5
2008 - 161

How amazing is that!?! God is good...all the time!
I look foward to see what God has in store for 2009...I know it will be a year of faith as we trust in God alone to lead, guide, and provide for us.

Pastor Rob

Thursday, December 18, 2008

To Invocate or Not Invocate?

Lighthouse Community Church has been deeply affected and influenced by the ministry of Pastor Rick Warren. Warren is the Founding and Senior Pastor at Saddleback Community
Church in CA (www.saddleback.com). His book, The Purpose Driven Church inspired a number of our founding members to create "a church to reach the unchurched." His "40 Days of Purpose" campaign played a significant role in our church, leading to over a dozen baptisms at the closing celebration. Warren is one of the most prominent pastors in the United States - if not the world - and a consistent NY Times bestseller. Some consider him to be the heir-apparent to Billy Graham as the most influencial leader among evangelicals. In 2005 Time magazine said: "Many believe that Warren ... is the successor to the [Rev. Billy Graham] for the role of America's minister." In that regard, it was not a surprise that Warren has been asked to deliver the invocation at President-Elect Obama's inauguration. (see http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/17/obama.warren/index.html?eref=ib_us).

Of course, not everyone is happy with the choice...or with Warren's apparent acceptance.

For political liberals, they are outraged that an outspoken pro-life advocate and a leading critic of same-sex marriage efforts would be chosen. In truth, the liberal blogs are steaming today over this announcement.

But, what should we (Christians) think about the selection of Warren and his acceptance?

In terms of the choice of Warren, on the one hand, we could cynically dismiss it as "typical politics." We could say that Pres Elect Obama is merely attempting to court evangelicals by selecting a key evangelical figure for this task. Others may see the choice more positively, arguing that this is simply Pres Elect Obama being true to his word to find common ground with people, even when there is disagreement on certain issues.

But what of Warren's acceptance? Again, some will see this positively, arguing that Warren is seeking to provide positive biblical influence where the opporutnity arises. In a sense, this may be his first major step in filling the role left by Billy Graham in being the "pastor to Presidents." Others, will see Warren's participation as tantamount to an endorsement of the Obama presidency. As such, it seems inconsistent and confusing, considering his strong opposition to several Obama policies.

My opinion is not worth much more than anyone else's I suppose. However, as the pastor of a church that has been significantly influenced by Warren - and currently in a series inspired by The Purpose of Christmas - I will provide my perspective...for what it's worth.

Warren always has been a risk-taker, and his participation in the inauguration is certainly a risk. In one sense, delivering an opening prayer is nothing more or less than talking to God. Unless, that is, we start thinking about all of the possible places we might encounter an invocation. For example, should a pastor provide an invocation for a dog fight? How about the opening of a bar? A strip club? As you see, the further we push the examples we inherently know that there is MORE to an invocation than simply talking to God - there is an implicit endorsement (and a request of God's favor) for the thing, person, or event in question. So, even in light of the positive potential that Warren's participation may engender, I do think that his participation is an implicit endorsement of Pres Elect Obama, which will undermine the good that he seeks to do. As such, I disagree with him for accepting the invitation to deliver the invocation.

Though I respectfully disagree with Warren's decision, I believe that he is a guy desperately wanting to extend the kingdom of God and to serve God faithfully with his life. I pray that I am wrong and that this will do more good than harm. And, I pray that this will give Warren the opportunity to be a significant, positive, and grounding influence in Obama's life.

I welcome your thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

God's Medicine 3

On Sunday, November 30, we experienced a worship service that was a little different. For the third time in our eight year history, we devoted an entire day to laughter and music. We call it "A Day of God's Medicine," calling to mind the words of Proverbs 17:22 - "A merry heart does good like medicine." The day is a reminder that, as God's people, we have much to rejoice over. We have reason to laugh...if "the one enthroned in heaven laughs" then certainly those who are loved by him have reason to laugh - even in the face of difficulty.

One of our skits centered on "spiritual giants." It was a tongue-in-cheek look at the way we will sometimes put on a spiritual front for others. Ryan, Rosie, Chad and Jennifer were good sports! They allowed us to have a bit of fun with characteristics and convictions that they are genuinely serious about. Ryan is a really patient guy...even in the "surveillance" video he couldn't get too worked up! Rosie really does sit at that chair and pray and study her bible...maybe not for 6-8 hours a day, but certainly NOT with a shopping list beside her! And Chad and Jen really do value children...but not as a means to and end (though Connor did a great job folding that laundry!). They love children as the good gifts God has given. I hope that the message that came through in that skit was to live consistently for Christ!

The kids were great in their "Kids Say" segment. I never thought of Kent as Samson, but maybe Langdon is onto something. And, how could we ask anything after Maddie gave us the "awwwww" moment of "The only guy I love is my daddy."

I hope everyone enjoyed our news segment as well. We certainly had fun taking pics of people and leaving them wondering what was going on. The news stories came from www.larknews.com, which is a satirical site of "less than true" Christian news stories.

I don't know when the next God's Medicine will be...but, you can be sure that we will want to do it again. After all, in the midst of a serious mission, it is important to remember that God's people can still enjoy a good laugh!

Pastor Rob