This is my college roommate, Jamison. He’s come a long way. I guess he’s always been a brilliant guy. But, I would now call him inspirational. In two weeks, he will begin his eigth year as a missionary in the Middle East. He has been incredibly faithful and has had great success. While in the Middle East, he met and married a really sweet girl, Kelly. They now have two handsome children with a third on the way.
When he was 19, he was almost killed in an arson on the campus of Lee University. That was really a turning point in his life. Yesterday morning, we both spoke at Life Pointe. Last night, Jamison spoke at Dwight Allen’s church in Cooper City. I am very excited for what God is doing in his life and invite you to pray for them daily with me.
"Wanting growth and attaining growth, though, are two different things. Most organizations are paralyzed, stuck in a rut, staring at a growth paradox. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they’re afraid, petrified that growth means change, change means risk, and risk could mean death. No one wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so the organization just sits there, motionless.
The growth paradox in endemic, affecting non-profits, big companies, start-ups, and even individuals. It continues to frustrate millions of employees (and investors).
How can we get you to embrace the idea of the purple cow? How can we help you to uunderstand that your quest for the big moo-for the game changing innovation-is the main reason (no, not the main reason, the only reason) you went to work today?
There isn’t a logical, proven, steb-by-step formula you can follow. Instead, there’s a chaotic path through the woods, a path that includes side routes encompassing customer service, unconventional dedication, unparalleled leadership, and daring to dream. Is this path worth staying on? Only if you want to grow. Only if you’re tired of being a cog in a dehumanizing machine. Only if you are willing to embrace the quest for the big moo."
(from preface of The Big Moo)
A few bloggers have asked why I removed their links from my blog. Easy. Nothing is free. If you don’t have a link to my blog, I took your link down, even if you are my right hand man. Link my blog and I’ll hook you up.
Also, I have a new addy here (www.travisjohnson.net) and there are still a lot of blogs pointing to my old site (www.pastortrav.blogspot.com). Hook a brother up and give me some love by fixing your links! Thanks, people.
What am I willing to die for? This is it.
My life mission is to love God with wreckless abandon, be a passionate husband, loving father, faithful friend, lifelong learner, visionary leader, dependable follower, and a catalyst for community transformation.
I just got The Big Moo from Amazon. It was waiting for me! to come home. I opened the cover and was greeted by this:
WHO YOU ARE IS WHAT YOU DO
You are not a cog.
You are not an assistant or an administrator.
You are not a gofer or a middle manager, either.
No, you’re creative. A valuable asset to your family and your community. A person who can make a difference to an organization.
You are capable of having an impact, leaving a legacy, creating things that are outstanding.
You are not ordinary.
In fact, you are remarkable.
Now, hurry. Don’t let yourself (and the rest of us) down.
The Big Moo Revooooooows:
Friday morning, I woke up and got to the RCA Dome. We finished business. The General Assembly affirmed all decisions but one, the one I wanted to see go through. I’ve got thoughts on that. Big thoughts. I won’t express them here. However, we have a process and that’s life. Live with it.
As a parting thought, I will say I have tremendous respect for Mike Chapman. Bro, I love and appreciate you in a big way. I also really enjoyed hanging with some really awesome people all week. I enjoyed the conversations, the late nights, the early mornings, and the lack of sleep.
I left Indy glad to get back to Miami. I love this place, my people, mi familia! Sunday is going to be terrific. Don’t come if you are not ready to be challenged. Its going to be that kind of service…powerful. See you in Pier 2!
For those of you that are close to me, you know how I really thrive being around people. I am a relational person. Today, I finally saw Kelly and the girls for a few minutes around dinner. After four days of non-stop people, I told her I couldn’t wait to get back to Miami where I won’t see someone I know every 15 feet. You know I’m tired if I say something like that. I’ve now retreated into my room. I’m skipping the service tonight. Roland Vaughn, the Director of World Missions is speaking. I guess I’ll get the DVD. I want to be there but I am just shot.
Today, a series of measures came to the floor concerning our church government. I will save the "politi-speak" for another venue. Summing it up, I was mostly glad about the outcome. I am still a little ticked off over how World Missions was treated yesterday. But, hey…what can I do?!?
A final thought about the business was that I loved Robert Carey’s Jonah illustration about the Captiain, the four mates, and the 18 crew members. I really enjoyed his wit. Harold Bare spoke a couple times. He did not say anything especially profound. He did have an excellent point about the videos. I guess I just think the world of that guy.
In about an hour, I’m going over to the Lee Alumni reception. I’ll see some old friends, hob nob with some important folks, ask Paul Conn when he is going to invite me to speak at a Lee University Chapel service (hook a brother up!), and then hang out with some really cool, young minded pastors to hopefully develop a network of young leaders that can resource one another, share best practices, and stay in touch with one another in an ongoing basis.
First, I am kind of blown away by how many visitors I’ve had on my blog each day this week. I’m not far from 1,000 readers each day. That’s kind of freaky. This is the first time I’ve blogged about Church of God stuff. I really had concerns about doing it in the first place. But, I try to be as open source as I can. So, if you don’t like it, come back next week, I’ll be writing about other stuff.
If you are from Life Pointe and are worried because I’m sounding like a pharisee or something. I just want to let you know I am not wearing long tassles yet. I’ll be back in Miami soon. We’re going to rock on Sunday.
Now, today was long. It was a learning experience. I won’t bore you with the details of business. Basically, there was a lot of slick talking. Some votes. Things passed and failed.
Tonight we went to church. During the service, there was a great video highlighting four church plants going on right now. The four guys seemed really cool. All of the churches would have blended well with Life Pointe. Of course, we are the coolest group of people on the planet. But, these four churches and their pastors were pretty decent. I was proud. Jamie Noel, Winfield Bevins, and those other two church planter types had it going on. The guy that looked like "goat boy" is here in Indy and I want to meet him. Dude, find me. I want to talk.
After church, I got to hang out with some really nifty chaps. Chad Smith, you look like Jim Carrey. Callaway Park Church seems like a really great place. You guys keep doing it in a big way. I’ll see you for the ReFormation Conference in September.
I’m hitting the sack. No breakfast in the morning. I’ll be going in for bussiness at 8:30…sleeping in. Later.
Of the 18 leaders I voted for, 7 were elected, including my pastor, Mitch Maloney. None of the four pastors that I mentioned earlier were elected. Mike Chapman came just a few votes short. I have not seen him since I’ve been here. I really hope we get to talk before the week is up. (Mike, if you’re out there, I’m looking for you.)
One highlight is that Grant McClung, one of our top missiologists was elected to the Council. He was my missions professor at the Seminary. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for him. I got to talk to him for a few minutes as we both walked to our hotels. One of my best friends, Jamison (who will be at Life Pointe Sunday) received a missionary appointment under him to Palestinian teens in Jerusalem.
I am curious to see what role Grant will be taking in the denomination going forward. Obviously, there is a great deal of confidence in him by his peers. I hope those sentiments are affirmed by our Executive Council.
Well, I’m ready to hit the sack. I’m grabbing breakfast with Todd McDaniel (one cool cat) and his pops, Larry (another cool cat) tomorrow early. I love both of those guys a heck of a lot…can’t wait to hang with them for a few minutes in the morning before going back into the business sessions.
I have been surrounded by about 2,200 ordained ministers today selecting the leadership for our denomination. Mostly, people filled the same positions or moved up into positions vacated by others that stepped down. Tonight, when I go back, we will get the results from our selection of our Council of 18.
I really want to see my pastor, Mitch Maloney on the Council. He will definitely go on, probably on the first ballot. Mitch is an awesome pastor with a tremendous vision for prayer and missions. He is the reason I am in full-time ministry. I also want to see Marty Baker, Harold Bare, Michael Chapman, and Anthony McDaniel go on. Marty is enough outside of the box for our denomination that it would be a big deal if that happened. I spoke with him briefly and he felt like it would be a real stretch for that to happen. But, he is encouraging to me as a young pastor who is out of the box in ministry approach.
After the Council of 18 selection is complete, we will get into the agenda. The 2nd item deals with cutting back the amount the denomination requires churches to send into our corporate entities. As the proposal reads, the cut back will impact only World Missions. A substitue proposal is coming to the floor which will speed up the time frame and shield World Missions from impact. If I heard Dr. McGuire correctly, he will not allow such a proposal. At that point, 2/3 of the body will have to overrule that decision by the chair. This has been a real learning experience for me. I have experienced a sense of responsibility that I had not known before.
In the middle of all the business, Ray Hughes, our former General Overseer, spoke about his "affliction" and how he had a sense of expectancy and then he prayed. He is old and confined to a chair. He prayed with a voice of a young man and the wisdom of a Grandfather. I was incredibly touched. My eyes were hot as I heard the prayers of a father. That moment has been the highlight of the week for me. Then, business resumed.
If nothing changes that I want to see change, I know that God is still working through our fellowship. The story of Christ is being told. Lives are being changed. I will admit I have a level of frustration concerning the pace that we experience organizational change. But, I am very glad to be a part of this fellowship and part of the process of global reach. I am proud of the way our church family interacts and the friendships I have. I am very blessed to be a part of such a great global family.
More later tonight.
Normally, I am high on Embassy Suites. I am especially this time. As I was connecting up with a friend at arrival in Indy and he called the place "Embassy Stinks." I laughed and dismissed it.
Then, I woke up at 3 AM "high on Embassy Suites." Some dude had a brilliant idea to paint the Embassy Suites stairwell in the middle of the night with an oil based paint. My head is swimming.
Today was borderline bizzare. We flew from FTL. Dwight and Bonnie Allen were on our flight. Super people. Made a connection in Tampa…a pile of pastors, too many to name got on there. The girls did super on the flight.
We caught a cab to Embassy Suites. While I was checking in, there was an accident on the escalator. Someone fell at the top and people began piling up on each other. It was bad. People were screaming. I found myself in the middle of the pile pulling people by their hair, arms, and anything else I could grab to get them out of the rapidly building pile of people. It was so weird. I remember seeing Blaine Faircloth, a pastor in Michigan in there doing the same, except that his wife was in the middle of it all.
After getting passed that excitement and finishing checking in, we headed into the RCA Dome. We saw a ton of familiar faces. That’s what is so great about these meetings, the relationships.
When we stepped into the service, I was taken back in time with the style of music. It was all music I loved and had fond memories of. But, it was very dated stuff. It did not keep me from worshipping. But, it does concern me that that is the style we hold up as the model to our pastors.
Dr. McGuire preached out of Acts 1 & 2. He spoke of recapturing the same spirit that we had when our movement was birthed a little over 100 years ago. I personally tend to believe that we cannot recapture that.
I do believe we can function in the same passion. Dr. McGuire spoke to that. Our founders had a revolutionary passion. I am afraid that as an organization, we may actually have an institutional passion. The brokenness, humility, and contrition that Dr. McGuire spoke of is largely absent from
our church, including me. We are far too comfortable.
When we left, of all the people we spoke to, it was especially good to talk with Paul Conn, the president of Lee U. where Kelly and I both graduated from. Dr. Conn has without a doubt had more direct influence on individuals in the Church of God than any other individual. When preparing to speak, I often think of how he would try to communicate a message. He is one the best communicaters, period.
Tomorrow, I start the day with a 6:30 breakfast with Ben Hodges from Four Corners in OH. He is really doing some great ministry coming to the end of year two of their church plant. I’m really looking forward to hanging with him. After that I’ll hit my first day of business on the floor at 8:30 AM. It sounds like it is going to be a very interesting day.
Today was our "Narratives" service in the Origins series. The dramatic presentations by New Life Drama Co. were fantastic. In a couple weeks, we do our "Sacraments" service and we will be doing Baptism at Biscayne Bay. That day is going to be a special day. This whole series has been enjoyable.
Because of the dramatic presentations, I had the chance to step back and catch a view from the theater chair. We have some equipment purchases to make to improve our setup and presentation. Our setup teams do an incredible job week in and week out. This morning they had on of their best setups with a 1.5 hour setup and a 30 minute tear down. Awesome.
We recently had a staff change. The most beauiful staff member we have, Kelly (my wife) has stepped back from Kids Life The rumor is that it is to free up time for Johnson baby #3…but, that’s just a rumor. Valerie Nelson is our new youth pastor and Casey Watkins moved from youth to Kids Life, filling Kelly’s position. Casey is so high energy. He is a perfect fit. Kids Life was absolutely jumping! Kidmo has proven to be a great fit for the children’s ministry.
After service, we took a stage into another theater to check how the fit was. We are kind of playing with the idea of going to a slightly smaller theater and having two services. It would provide a couple worship options. It would help us develop more leadership and place volunteers. And, it would ensure that 100% of our volunteers could be in the worship service each week. At this point, that’s just talk. But, we’ll see how that plays out.
To sum it up, I enjoyed my view from the chair, took some good notes, toured every ministry area, and loved interacing with the volunteers that are out making i happen without having my message on my mind.
On Monday, I will fly into Indianapolis for the Church of God General Assembly. This will be the first year
I will be able to participate in the discussion and voting as an "Ordained
Bishop." I’ve already done enough speaking in the Open Forums.
During business, I will only be voting. Since the Forums, people that
didn’t know my name, now pat me on the back and say "hey doc!"
Or, they, look at me like I’m some kind of rebel.
Perhaps, I should be more delicate
when pointing out that our denominational organization is too top heavy. Fortunately, I’m not even
close to being the first to say it. John
Maxwell and Injoy were paid big bucks to say the same thing several years
ago except they delved into Patronage issues as well.
The issues that I am particularly
interested in that are coming to the Ordained Ministers are:
- A gradual elimination of the mandatory percentage sent in to World Missions. I will vote for this but, I think it should be done immediately and it should all come out of the administrative budget. For this to happen 2/3 of the body is going to have to agree to suspend the rules and submit a substitute proposal.
- Appointment of Evangelism, Youth, and World Missions Directors by the Executive Committee. World Missions is one thing we do really well. I can’t understand why we would fire the General Assembly from being able to select leadership and give that authority to a few good guys with a more limited scope of who can effectively lead.
- Unified Budget (Consolidation of the World Missions Budget with the International Budget). Again, this seems like the parable of the talents in reverse. The biggest producer on a corporate level for the Church of God is World Missions. Yet, we have a proposal on the table to remove the World Missions budget and give it to our ever-growing International bureaucracy. That makes no sense to me.
- Election of Denominational Leadership. I am focusing on the selection of the Council of 18 since it
is basically the Elders Board of our denomination and there is decent opportunity for pastors to be selected. Additionally, selecting Administrative Bishops for this role makes no sense as they are unable to provide straightforward, honest feedback to the Committee that appointed them. Four guys that I really would like to see on the Council of 18 are Marty Baker, Anthony McDaniel, Mike Chapman, and Harold Bare. Those guys have big voices that pastors are listening to. As they speak, they are not considering first how the denominational guys perceive their statements.
I am not in favor of anything that further centralizes our structure. I will be blogging from
Indy. I’m sure there will be others that get the facts out on the taboo,
unofficial Church of God message forum, Actscelerate. I’ll try to share my personal
observations here as well as there. If it comes across as being too
political, just ignore me for a week and it will be out of my system.
Related COG General Assembly posts:
My blog will soon be moving to www.travisjohnson.net – I’m also changing over from Blogger to Typepad. I’m having some difficulty exporting my blogger content into Typepad. If anyone (like David) has any tips, I’m all ears. In the meantime, Please change your bookmarks and your your blogrolls to the new domain. All new posts will be there.
After following the instructions provided by Typepad for importing Blogger content, I am ready to kick my computer. I’d really like to get the 255 entries imported over without dumping everything. If you’ve got some techno-advice, hook a brother up!
I’m new to Typepad. I’ve been at blogger for the past 13 months and am finally making the change. To celebrate the move, I’ve registered a new domain, www.travisjohnson.net. Hopefully, I will have everything imported soon.
I’ll try to keep it to the point and interesting for all.
Mark Hardgrove, wrote some comments regarding Socialization and Emergent Movement. I appreciated his thoughts. In fact, while not totally agreeing, I share many of the same concerns regarding the open-endedness of emergent theology. Brian McClaren, the face of Emergent gives me the chills. He pushes me outside of Emergent…far outside.
However, when I read and follow Mark Driscoll’s thoughts, I get fired up. Driscoll was a part of Emergent when the movement was finding its voice. He shares an orthodox view of Christ and the Church as well as a general dissatisfaction with the state of the church. But, he has been outspoken against the lack of Scriptural fidelity found in the statements of McClaren and other Emergent leaders. Joel VandenBrink gives a brief brief glimpse and links to the articles and responses in order. I was thankful for those public conversations of which Driscoll later apologized for his tone. In my opinion, Driscoll makes the emerging church appealing to me with a call to orthodoxed theology and unorthoxed practice.
I believe that much of modern church is failing. It is a gut feeling. It may be in my gut because of peer pressure. Ed Stetzer points out that it is also a factual reality. Stetzer summarzes that problem well in “Planting Missional Churches.” Again, here are those statistics:
- In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 1950, there were 17 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 2000, there were 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
- In 2004, the latest year available, there are 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
The state of the church in America is unhealthy. This in itself is not an argument for emergent. But, it is an argument against the status quo. In the past, we could say it was an argument against mainline denominations. Now, even the Church of God which in the late 90′s was the fastest growing denomination in the US is experiencing decline in some statistical categories. In 2005, the Church of God closed more churches than the denomination opened. It is now a widespread American Church problem.
So, I am left dangling outside of modern church practice and outside of emergent theology, unable to resonate fully with either. I don’t know exactly what you call that. But, that’s where I am. I know other guys like that. But, I don’t know what its called. I believe I fall within some kind of a “Missional” label.
This week, I will participate in our denominational conference which will determine direction for our World Missions organization as well as other denominational issues. I am simulataneously aggravated at the non-missional, non-core focus of many of our initiatives and excited about the passion I hear from pastors. I just came out of a meeting with one of our denominational guys and about 6 pastors. What we discussed would be fantastic for the city of Miami. It would also address some of the things that some people find aggravating. I am encouraged by that and pray for the missional focus of our group to be expanded and to influence what I see as an all too often corporately safe, modern church organization. My prayer is that we will find ourselves outside of modernity- yet fully within orthodoxy.
Without direction from God, there is no gas in the tank. Without decision making there is no foot on the accelerator, no impetus to move forward. Without horizontal and bottom up counsel, there are no passengers in the car.
In 2005, Media is transformed by the pajamas media that don’t buy the corporate spin. Just ask Dan Rather who is now enjoying retirement. In 2006, the Southern Bapists respond to the bottom up leadership of Wade Burleson and the SBC Bloggers like Steve McCoy.
Honesty, integrity, involvement, empowerment, and shared ministry will energize this bottom up culture and release the innovation and passion of the local church. Our churches must embrace the diversity of the community of individuals and rally around singlular passions as articulated by Christ. If there is a time to understand the depth of the concept of colaborers, jointly fit together in Christ, that time is now.
Rhett Smith wrote an excellent piece on bottom up culture. In his article, he said:
The “bottom-up” culture wants to be at the table. They want to be part of the process. But as long as the church operates in a “top-down” model, those at the bottom will often be excluded and will not be allowed to think for themselves.
I would change his premise. Top-down, restrictive leadership, while perhaps depriving people of information, does not prohibit people from thinking for themselves. However, it will prohibit participation and stifle people who are hungry for interaction, development, and personal investment.
From 8.1-9.9, I will pray for the children. Join Dan and me for this 40 Day prayer journey with Children’s Cup.
Tony Morgan says its official. Ed Young Jr has opened Fellowship Church-Miami. At the last C3 Conference, I told my team that I had a hunch that was going to happen. So, Tony scooped me but at least I broke the news to Gary first. That has to count for something. See the first response on Tony’s blog for that story.
My feelings? I am excited. Miami is a city in desperate need of life giving churches. Bob agrees. I pray the best for that cool cat, Ed jr. The guy has got style. He can pull off wearing some sick shoes and has good taste in cities. Ed, you’re a stud. I have a Pastor’s small group that meets once a month. Now that you are pastoring here in Miami, you may need the connections and encouragement as you start up your little mission. Feel free to drop by for our next lunch.
A week from Monday, I will be in Indiannapolis for our general conference. I’m meeting up with some guys that are involved in some pretty creative stuff. Ben Hodges, lead pastor of Four Corners Community Church is one I particularly look forward to. I will also be linking up with some other pastors that are change agents in their communities and in our church fellowship to dialogue.
I plan to sleep little, interact a lot, and sit through a ton of meetings. You can probably find me on the floor of the RCA Dome 8:30 AM-4:30 PM, at the Reformation ’06 booth during breaks, and almost any night of that week (post 10 pm) sitting around a table at Embassy Suites asking lots of questions and sharing the remaining pieces of my mind that I can locate.