Summary: In this message, we explore five paradigm shifts that a church can make to have a better future. This is a kind of "halftime" talk from a pastor/coach to the congregation/team.

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To compete for a championship, during a game a great team has to make some adjustments.

I sometimes think of the New Year as a kind of halftime. My personal internal calendar starts in August when the kids go back to school. The first semester is over. Now, it’s the halftime before the second semester begins. And at halftime, great teams must make some adjustments if they want to win the game.

We’re going to have to change the way we think about things as a church if we are truly going to win in 2003. Some people call these “paradigm shifts.” What I’m asking for is for us to begin to think differently as a church family.

How our church can change for the better

For today, let’s think about some adjustments we need to make to be more effective for Christ in the months ahead.

There are some non-negotiables. Our commitment to Jesus will stays the same. Our commitment to the Bible as God’s word and the source of truth will stay the same. Our mission and vision will stay the same. Our core values will stay the same.

We cannot continue to look at things the way we always have. Here are five commitments I hope you will make.

In 2003, I will help our church shift …

1. … from “serve us” to service.

I’ll never forget several years ago when a staff member was trying to share a word picture to describe a problem we faced at CVCC. We were facing a volunteer shortage. She said, “The problem with some of our people is that they have this attitude: ‘Here, tie my shoe!’”

Too many of us have a “serve us” attitude. There’s no question that a church ought to meet your needs. We want to meet yours. But I have found that when I am focused on having my needs met, then I most likely to gripe and grumble. That’s when I am most likely to be miserable and not grow. But when I shift from serve us to service, I find my needs miraculously being met. I grow!

It is NOT the responsibility of the staff at CVCC to do ministry on behalf of the members and attenders of CVCC. Here’s the job description of the staff:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-12

Our task is to equip you and to mobilize you to be obedient to God’s call on your life to serve. We just have to broaden our definition of “ministry.” Most of us have been conditioned to think of “ministry” as something that pastors do. But here’s a definition of “ministry” that might surprise you. Ministry is meeting another’s needs with the resources God gives to you. Serving others ought to be a normal part of life for every Christ-follower.

You may not be a Bible scholar or a Billy Graham, but no matter what your present level of maturity, you can meet someone else’s need with the resources God has given you.

We’re going to be more intentional to investigate and communicate the needs in our church and in our community and to look for entry points where we are being “invited to serve.” Right here in NE Ohio there are human service agencies that are morally positive and spiritually neutral who are always looking for volunteers. Every time we hear about a need for volunteers, we could see this as in invitation from our community to “come and show us what the love of God looks and feels like.”

Our goal this year is to see an increasing percentage of people serving in some ministry. We’re going to have to figure out a way to measure our effectiveness in mobilizing people. We’re coming after you!

Last week, Maryanne and I went to see Antwone Fisher. It’s the story of a young man who grew up in Cleveland in an abusive home. His mother gave birth to him in prison and never claimed him. His father was shot before he was even born. He joined the Navy after he found himself on the streets. Fisher was ordered to see a naval psychiatrist about his temper. With the support of the doctor, Fisher found the courage to stop fighting and start healing. One of the most moving scenes for me was when he shares a poem with his counselor.

Who will cry for the little boy, lost and all alone?

Who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own?

Who will cry for the little boy? Who knows well hurt and pain.

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Cherrye Cunnigan

commented on Sep 23, 2006

I particulary liked the illustration from the popular movie and book "Antoine Fisher"

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