On Wednesday, Phillip & Amanda went on the Kiwi Cave Rafting Adventure while Carol and I did Spellbound. On our tour, we went into two caves. The first one was a walking/boat ride to see the glow worms. Quite a spectacular view! The second cave was to view various rock formations caused by rain and rivers. It was a day to experience and enjoy God’s creative work underground.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Today’s theme is Hobbits. We connected with Amanda & Phillip yesterday in Hamilton and headed for Matamata. This morning we toured Hobbiton, the movie site for the Shire in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbits trilogies. Afterwards, we headed for Waitomo, where we are staying in a Hobbit Motel. It’s been a very enjoyable day.
After visiting family in SoCal, we flew from LAX to Auckland, NZ. We arrived safely in Auckland on Monday morning, got our luggage, rented our car, and then headed south to Matamata, where we will tour Hobbiton on Tuesday morning. Today was a time to get oriented–right hand drive, driving on the left side of the road, and staying alert after a 13 hour flight. As we drove along, we easily imagined the Riders of Rohan galloping across the countryside.
Below is a letter I wrote to our elders & wives at First Central Bible Church on the subject of succession planning. One responded to say she was going to file it under email heading that take your breath away. I replied that at least I got her attention. 😉
Let me say first off that I am NOT planning on leaving or retiring any time soon. I am simply starting the process of thinking and asking questions. When the time comes, I want FCBC to be prepared to make a smooth and effective transition. I want the next pastor to step into a strong, healthy situation.
When I was in California last May for Jonathan’s graduation, my mother-in-law asked me when I was going to retire and I told her, “70.” She wasn’t quite sure how to respond. However, since I will turn 62 while in New Zealand, I have to acknowledge that leaving and/or retiring is somewhere on the horizon. I am closer to the end than to the beginning.
One of the men Carol does bookkeeping for is Tom Fowler of Fowler Financial Services in Bellevue, WA. Tom is an Elder at Crossroads Bible Church and is an old friend. As part of Tom’s business, he counsels families and companies about planning for retirement and succession. He sent me a note over a year ago about a book the Crossroads’ staff and elders were reading on the subject. Tom prompted me to start thinking about the issue.
Over the past 11 months, I have read four books on the topic written to church leaders.
- Transition Plan: 7 secrets every leader needs to know, by Bob Russell, Bryan Bucher
- NEXT: Pastoral Succession that Works, by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird
- The Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the unspoken about pastoral transitions, by Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree
- Passing the Leadership Baton: A winning transition plan for your ministry, by Tom Mullins
The books were interesting and had some helpful principles and things to think about. The first and last books are written from a large, megachurch perspective where the pastor handpicked and mentored his successor.
At this point, I would ask for five things:
- Pray that I will know when to step aside. Below is something I wrote in my journal in 2004. The details have changed, but the metaphors are still fitting.
These days I feel like Aragorn of the first two books of The Lord of the Rings—haunted by the failures of the past, fearful of making the same mistakes, reluctant to take on the role for which he was born. I want to be Aragorn of the third book—stepping boldly into leadership, bringing encouragement to the fainthearted, leading a fellowship of people to victory. My fear is that if I stay at I will either become Theoden—listening to the whispers of the enemy and becoming a shell of a man, or Denethor—grasping onto a position of power, marking time, whose senses were dulled to the truth of his situation.
- Let me know if you sense I am losing my passion and/or losing my effectiveness. Let me know if I am becoming resistant to new ideas and/or change. One of my mentors, Pastor Kent Hughes, retired at 65 for this very reason.
- Please let me know when we should put this on the agenda and start talking about transitions.
- Pray that I will be faithful to the task God has called me to.
- Pray that I will finish well.
Thanks for all you do for Christ and FCBC.
“The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.”
First leg of the journey to Middle Earth–Boston to LAX
I attend two pastors’ groups that meet on a monthly basis. At one of the recent gatherings, the topic turned to giving in the church. One of the men said he asked his treasurer for information on how many people in the church gave financially and how many gave a tithe.
Being curious myself, I asked our Financial Secretary at First Central Bible Church to do some research and give me the same type of information. Here’s what she shared with me. (She shared the numbers, but not the names.)
We currently have 194 members. Our average weekly attendance is 219 people.
We have 120 giving units. A giving unit may be an individual, a couple, or a family. A giving unit may be a member or a regular attender. Of the 120 giving units,
- 2 gave $20K or more during 2016
- 11 gave $10-20K
- 15 gave $5-10K
- 45 gave $1-5K
- 47 gave less than $1K
The numbers reflect the Pareto Principle, that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people, or in this case, 80 percent of the money is given by 20 percent of the people.
The results prompted Carol and I to talk about how much we give and where it goes. The bulk of our giving is to FCBC and a portion goes to support some missionaries we know.
The results also prompted me to review what Scripture says about money and generosity.
Biblical principles of giving
- It all belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
- We give back to God what he has given us (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)
- We worship God with our first and best (Proverbs 3:9-10)
- Promise—If we give, God will meet our needs (Proverbs 3:9‑10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
- Sequence—We give to God first, then God meets our needs (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
- Challenge—Give generously and see what God does (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
- Rather than tithing (giving 10%), the New Testament teaches generosity (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
- While tithing may not be a requirement, it is a good guideline, since it was the pattern of godly people before the Law was given (Genesis 14:17-20; 28:10-22)
- Our giving should be periodic, personal, planned, proportionate, and properly protected (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
- Generosity is best determined by what we give when we have little, not when we have much (Mark 12:41-44)
- We have been blessed in order to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
- Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30)
- Excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7)
Let me encourage you to review what Scripture says about giving. Ask God to search your heart to see if you are obedient in this area. Ask him to show you how much he would have you give in 2017. Ask him for the grace and strength to obey him and to trust him to provide for your needs.