The Conception of a Vision

It just won’t stop. Here at Prairie Flower, people are getting saved, baptized, and added to the church! God is so good; and I simply stand in awe of Him and the work He is doing at Prairie Flower.

Last Sunday we had the privilege of baptizing eight individuals…eight eternal souls! Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they are fascinating. Thus far, since the beginning of 2014, we have had four people saved, eight baptisms, and about a dozen people join our church! In fact, after the eight baptisms last Sunday, three other people met with us and inquired about church membership! Isn’t that awesome?! I mean this is what church is all about…people getting saved, baptized, and added to the church. It’s almost as if we are an Acts 2:41 church…and I’m loving it!

However, in the stillness and quietness of my office, I have wondered…how long will this last? Is this simply a phase? Will things eventually taper off and go back to “normal”? Then I stand up in resolution and shout (to the walls)…NO! Absolutely not! This can and should be a regular occurrence here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church! We can and should be an Acts 2:41 church! In fact, I am realizing that my passion for Prairie Flower, and my passion for seeing souls being radically changed as a result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is giving birth to a vision. In other words, this is just in the “conception” stage of things, but my vision for Prairie Flower looks something like this…

“Prairie Flower Baptist Church seeks to be an Acts 2:41 church. That is to say, we earnestly desire to see people saved, baptized, and added to the church on a regular basis. We long to be a church that is a safe-haven from the legalistic terrors of various religious denominations. We passionately long to see men stand up as leaders, women to thrive in their relationships, and children to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Bottom line, Prairie Flower Baptist Church earnestly desires to be a growing, thriving community of Jesus Followers in southeast Iowa!”

That’s it folks. That’s the vision. It took 20 seconds to write…I’m excited and nervous. This can and should be the way things are at Prairie Flower. But you ask, “HOW is this possible…HOW will we get this done?!” Answer: I don’t have a clue, but I serve a God who knows ALL the answers to the HOW questions. At this point, I just know WHAT…WHAT the vision looks like…WHAT life and ministry can and should look like.

Friends, I trust Jesus…I follow Jesus…and all I know is that Jesus demands faithfulness NOT outward signs of success. So, I will follow Jesus, in the cornfield, during the sunshine…and the rain…and as I follow Christ, I ask of you, “Won’t you follow me?” But you say, “Where are we going?!” Answer: I don’t have a clue…but Jesus is there…and if He’s there…I want to be there too!

Moving Forward

The Bible states in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Last Sunday night we experienced this type of unity. Indeed, it was good…it was pleasant…it was sweet! Our meeting lasted for 1 1/2 hours and we talked about many different options in regards to our dynamic and exciting church growth. That is to say, we have gone from 120 to 150 to 190 in weekly attendance. Such momentum has created many changes and we (i.e. your pastor and deacons) are responding to and channeling this momentum for God’s glory and our community’s good. The following are our NEW ideas/proposals/suggestions:

Understanding that momentum creates change, and in keeping with the standards of the Word of God, and in staying true to our core values, and in pursuit of our mission (i.e. to provide grace-based solutions for real-life problems), we (i.e. your pastor and deacons) are suggesting the following alterations to accommodate for our growth:

1. Hiring a 2nd Pastor…

2. Reformatting our Sunday Services by means of moving to an all morning format (no evening service), and removing the pews and replacing them with chairs…

3. Giving everyone Wednesday nights off during the summer…and during the school year, making the AWANA Program only available for the first three Wednesdays of the month, with the fourth/fifth Wednesdays off…

4. Looking into land and building options for a bigger, better facility…

Again, as of right now, all of these are simply ideas. Nothing is a done deal at this point. We have NOT voted on anything, but one thing is for sure, we must do something…and your leadership is boldly moving forward with NEW ideas…and hopefully, new realities to meet the blessings and challenges of our dynamic, God-glorifying church growth! Please pray for your leadership, as we move forward, that God would give to us wisdom, discernment, and courage along the way. Ultimately, God will be glorified, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!

Pastoral Priorities

In anticipation of our upcoming Prairie Flower Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, June 15th at 6:00 PM, I wanted to set before you some of my thoughts concerning pastoral priorities. You see, life has a way of throwing us many curveballs. Sometimes these curveballs will lead us to a new set of priorities, and this is a good thing (ex. marriage, new career, etc.). However, some curveballs are nothing more than distractions from the original plan, goal, or established objective. Such distractions come masked as “good ideas” or “opportunities”. The successful pastor must learn to counter these distractions with strength, resolve, and faith in God.

However, one of the very best ways to counter distractions in pastoral ministry is to clearly set and define the priorities of your life and ministry from the very beginning of your pastorate. Setting such priorities will enable you to respond effectively to certain situations instead of reacting emotionally to them. The purpose of this blog post is to simply reveal to you the man (i.e. yours truly) behind these pastoral priorities.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a priority as, “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.” In other words, a priority is a person, place, or thing that deserves attention before any other person, place, or thing. As a pastor, I believe that I have a responsibility to decide who and what is a priority in my life and ministry. Such a task must be accomplished with God-empowered wisdom and discernment. In addition to this, in order to be effective in establishing and carrying out pastoral priorities, the man behind the priorities must have the following skills: decision making skills, discipline, and confidence.

The pastor who seeks to establish priorities must be a man who knows how and when to make a decision. In other words, he must be ready, willing, and able to make a decision on what is and is not a priority. He must be able to say, “This is a priority, and this is not a priority.” Such decision making skills will not only keep the pastor focused, but allow him to guide his congregation in a fair and firm manner.

He must also be a man of discipline. That is, he must not only be able to make a decision, but be able to stand by his priorities even in the midst of conflict. He must be able to say, “These are the established, and agreed upon priorities, and this is what every proposed event or action will be filtered through.” Such discipline gives authority and power to the priorities, and makes them more real for the congregation.

The pastor must also be a man of confidence. This is closely associated with discipline, but has the element of trust and boldness in God. The pastor who establishes priorities must do so in full reliance upon God and in complete confidence in his God-given gifts, talents, and abilities. Nothing is more dangerous to established pastoral priorities than lack of confidence in them. Just being able to make decisions on priorities, and sticking by them, is not enough; he must have confidence in them. The Bible states in James 1:8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Therefore, if the pastor establishes priorities, and then haphazardly follows them, his people will lose confidence in his leadership, and he will quickly become ineffective. The pastor must be able to say, with confidence, “I have established these priorities on the authority of the Word of God, and I am confident that He has led me to establish them in this order.”

Friends of Prairie Flower, pray for your pastor. Pray for the leadership team at this church. We need wisdom. We need discernment. We need a good dose of guts as we move forward. Bottom line, momentum creates change…and we, as a church, are experiencing momentum. Thus, change is upon us whether we like it or not. The question is how do I, as your leader, guide you through these changes? How do I channel the momentum? Answer: by setting, defining, and sticking to my pastoral priorities! What are these proposed pastoral priorities? Come to the Town Hall Meeting this Sunday at 6:00 PM to find out!



Our Sermon Series Thus Far…

Sermon #1 – There are approximately twenty different churches in Washington, Iowa. So what makes Prairie Flower unique, different, and special from every other church in town? Answer: Our Core Values! These values form the DNA (the core ideology) of what makes us truly exceptional. Join us as we launch this new nine week sermon series entitled, “Core Values: Who We Are,” and discover what it means to be grounded, focused, and led as a Jesus Follower at Prairie Flower!

Sermon #2 – As we move forward, defining our core values, crafting our mission, casting the vision, making BIG plans for God’s glory and the good of others, it is inevitable, we will encounter BIG problems! It’s an inescapable reality. BIG dreams always come at a BIG cost, namely, BIG problems, but God is BIGGER, and He has ordained the means of prayer to move His hand. Join us as we investigate the mighty power of passionate prayer as evidenced in the life of King Hezekiah!

Sermon #3 – Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Sing this song. Sing that song. Hear this sermon. Pray. Leave. Is this the extent of Christianity? Is this the heartbeat of the gospel? NO!!! Absolutely not! At the center of Christianity, and what makes the gospel so beautiful, is in the fact that it’s all about a relationship with Jesus – not a ritual! Join us as we discover what it truly means to love people and why relationships matter and rituals don’t!