RSS

Tag Archives: Church

Book Review: “The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson

Book Review: “The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson

So… there I was, sitting at Craft Kafe with my friend Tim Wolter, discussing one of our favourite topics, church. He had been reading this book and was about 3/4 of the way through it and asked if I would read it as well and comment on it. He graciously let me borrow it, and as soon as I finish writing this, I’ll return it to him.

The book is divided into three sections, based off of Psalm 78:72 which reads:

“He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with his skillful hands.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭78:72‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/1713/psa.78.72.CSB

The first section is about “The Shepherd,” the second is “Integrity of Heart,” and the third is “Skillful Hands.”

One of the themes that runs through the book is transforming the reader, who is a pastor, into someone that thinks not only about Sunday, but about Monday, specifically about the work situations of the congregants and equipping them to be an effective witness for Jesus in those environments.

I found this book tough slogging through the first two sections. I wanted to put it down. That part felt forced, like maybe the editor or the publisher wanted it in there. Pastor Nelson, hit his stride in the third section, where he got into the “skillful hands” and it was obvious to me that he had some things he wanted to say and thought they were helpful.

And they were for me. Let me give you a couple of excerpts that appealed to me, and may prove to make some wholesale changes in my life.

First, on pages 154-155, he starts by quoting psychiatrist Curt Thompson. Pastor Nelson writes:

“Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson makes the point that our brains are actually altered in storytelling. ‘People change not just their experiences, but also their brains — through the process of telling their stories to an empathic listener. When a person tells her story and is truly heard and understood, both she and the listener undergo actual changes in their brain circuitry.’ If congregations are to flourish, shepherding leaders must realize that everyone has a story to tell and everyone needs someone to whom they can tell their story. Every person who is entrusted to us within the congregation needs to know others and be known by others. Storytelling is a primary way that deep relationships are formed and sustained and that joy is released. As shepherding pastors, we must grasp the importance of encouraging and equipping our congregational members not only to share their stories with one another, but to share their unique story with others who may not yet know Jesus.”

“The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson, pages 154-155

I think this is clutch, especially in our cultural context. That practice we did of breaking into groups of 3 and 4 people to share testimonies and what we were grateful for at Calvary was profound in forming relationships. On top of that, and not only equally important, but maybe more important was taking a few minutes at the close of our Sunday morning gatherings to break into groups of 2 and 3 to pray for each other. I felt affirmed in that practice after reading this.

The next excerpt is much longer and for me was more personal. It’s from pages 113-114 in the second section “Integrity of Heart” in a chapter called “Pursuing Wholeness.” Pastor Nelson writes:

“I will never forget the advice a wise executive gave me when I was a seminarian… ‘love where you go home to at night.’… He simply reminded me that our homes are a place of refuge from the world, a place of rest and renewal. These wise words have guided me over the years, and my wife, Liz, and I have invested time and treasure in making the place we live a place of rest and beauty, one conducive to hospitality. As pastoral leaders we don’t have to have elaborate homes, but within our budgetary capacity we are wise to invest resources in making our homes a refuge, a place of beauty and serenity. Creating beautiful, warm and inviting spaces in our homes enhances the flourishing and joy of others who share with us times of celebration, laughter, and fun. Surrounding our lives with beauty is not only a way to minimize the corrosive effects of evil, it is also a way to bring joy and well-being to our lives and relationships. We were created to flourish in a beautiful garden, and even though we live in a fallen world, we are renewed when we encounter beauty.

“The Flourishing Pastor” by Tom Nelson, pages 113-114

That struck me. I’ve thought of that idea over the years, but it’s been quite some time since Gen and I have invested time and treasure into the furnishings and decorations of our home. Part of that is because we had growing children and between the pace of life and how hard that season of life is on our effects, we were just surviving! A few days later, these words from Proverbs jumped off the page:

“A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:3-4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/1713/pro.24.3-4.CSB

We have recently emptied out our storage unit and brought everything to the condo we are temporarily living it. It’s time to do some cleaning! So, with the encouragement of Pastor Nelson, and the criteria of “precious and beautiful” we have some work to do. And, yes, we will say “thank-you” to stuff like Marie Kondo.

Overall, I found the book helpful. Frankly, it must be said, that I usually find myself out of step with most of what is produced by people associated with The Gospel Coalition (TGC). There are exceptions, of course. And, that’s what I struggled with through the first two sections of the book.

Here’s the questions I had after finishing the book: I wonder if my colleagues that have swallowed Calvinism, or like one person said: “invited John Calvin, or John Piper into their hearts,” are struggling with the intimacy and integrity part of their personal relationship with the Lord? Is that why the first two sections were included?

Or, was it a publishing decision to have a larger book, a little more comprehensive, and not just be a technical, practical encouragement in the skill part of pastoring?

But, like I said, overall, I found that third section helpful and helpful enough to recommend the book to others.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , ,

Book Review “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You”

Book Review “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You”

How I get a book is a story I like telling. In this case, when we did “family debriefing” with Compass Ministries last month, I met Roni Lacuesta the Executive Director. He gave me a couple of strong recommendations, and one of them was to read this book.

So, even though I’m currently unemployed, and have no income, I decided to buy the book anyway. Proverbs says to “Buy the truth and don’t sell it,” and “in all your getting, get wisdom” and how wisdom and insight and understanding should be the chief pursuits in life.

The book lists 5 authors: James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, Anne M. Bierling, Rick Koepcke, and Maribeth Poole. It’s a book written by a group of psychologists and mental health workers from an organization called Shepherd’s House in California. It’s part of a group of resources they call “Life Model.”

The authors are trying to present a vision of how Christian community, specifically churches, can be a indispensable contribution to the recovery of trauma.

In the beginning of the book, they talk about the two major kinds of trauma, bad events happening to someone, and good experiences withheld from someone, and how each uniquely cripples a person’s development. They describe what attributes a person should exhibit in the various stages of maturity and what it looks like when their body grows beyond their maturity.

They also take the time to describe how the two major different types of trauma affect that process of maturity and how expensive and time-consuming it is to bring healing to someone through individual counselling. I appreciated how honest they were in discussing the shortcomings of that model of therapy. It’s not to be discarded, it’s just not sufficient to the task. They plainly state that what’s needed is the power of God and the involvement of key roles in the community, namely spiritual fathers, mothers and brothers and sisters.

It’s compelling. I could see how this would be appealing to all kinds of people, those who are suffering the affects of trauma, and those who have a soft heart. Certainly, it’s obvious, our expectation that involvement in church to be a healing and life-giving experience should go without saying.

Sadly, it’s not common. And, the authors faithfully point out that often our leaders exhibit immaturity themselves. It’s impossible to model maturity if you’re not mature. And, it’s hard to give what you haven’t received.

One of the most helpful things I did early on in ministry was attend the “Rapid Response Chaplain Training” offered by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It gave me some tools and insight into trauma, shock and how to be the hands and feet and presence of Jesus in those situations. I found it very helpful and adopted that posture often in my interactions with people as a pastor over the years.

If you haven’t done something like that, this book would be a great resource to you, as it does a good job of introducing the broad outlines of what to expect. What I found valuable is the explanation of trauma and the time given to detailing the attributes of maturity. It gave me yet another lens of compassionately viewing myself and the people around me.

I’m curious if you have read this book? Or, been to a church that tried to implement it? Or, been involved with Shepherd’s House. If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences either through the comments or a direct message.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 15, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Family Update

Family Update

Instead of answering all the emails and phone calls… this might be a good way to share how we are doing.

I underestimated a couple of things with this transition. I knew it would be tough, but there were some parts that I didn’t anticipate.

First, I knew emotionally it would be a challenge. What I didn’t completely calculate was how it would affect everyone else in the family. That’s not to say that I would not have made the decision to relocate, no, just didn’t realize really how big of a change it is for everyone else.

Thankfully, early on, someone encouraged me to seek out “family debriefing” which is what missions agencies do for missionaries and their families when they return to the US from another culture. You would think that the Canadian culture is so similar to the one in the US and so it shouldn’t be a big deal. That’s true. But, the difference is the transition. When we went to Canada, we were excited, and it was an adventure, and we had lots of hope and expectation and wonder. This transition is different. We didn’t want this one, it’s not all that exciting, there doesn’t seem to be much adventure, and we all in different ways mourn the loss of what we had.

We are scheduled for “family debriefing” in a couple of weeks. My prayer (and I hope yours too!) is that each member of our family would have an opportunity to process all that’s happened to us, so that we can be ready and open (and have an attitude of adventure) for what’s next.

The other thing that I didn’t calculate was how much paperwork is involved. Our society is intense on the maintenance of life just in paperwork. And, because of the pandemic, it’s slow. There’s government documents, identification documents, licenses, tags, insurance, banking, tax returns, phone numbers, addresses, two factor authorizations. On top of all of that, we trip over things like app stores and blocked IP addresses to get things done.

What complicates that further is that it’s still not clear what’s next for us. We don’t know where to settle down yet, and I don’t know yet what’s next for work.

I finished officially at Calvary Ottawa on December 15th. I’m grateful for what a blessing that whole process was for me and my family. I hope it was a blessing for the church as well. Pastor John Cowan and his wife Laura are a gift from heaven distributed all around.

After that, we threw ourselves into anniversary, birthdays (2 on the same day!), and very different ways of celebrating Christmas and New Years. There’s no snow. It wasn’t even cold. We all missed “Christmas in the Park.”

In that period of time, we did get around and started visiting potential schools for Olivia. She’s done well at home with the A.C.E curriculum, but we could see how she would really thrive to be in a school that offers that curriculum in a dedicated “learning center.” Just before the holiday break, we visited a small school in St. Petersburg that looks like it will be a good fit.

We enrolled her and one of the big reasons I’m able to write this post is because she’s on her third day there, and it appears to be going swimmingly. She LOVES wearing a uniform and has already made a couple of acquaintances by bringing her bubble mixture and wand for the times of recesses.

My heart is full of gratitude for people that pursue that calling of investing in children, and do it well, because they love the Lord.

While we wait a few weeks to ensure that it’s a good fit, I’ve been connecting with a couple of local pastors and volunteering. I’m happy to report that I was able to teach the Bible on Wednesday morning to a group of young people including my eldest daughter at Zeal School of Ministry. That was a real delight. I haven’t taught since October 17th in Ottawa. Well, I did share for a couple of minutes at the U-Turn Ranch in California… but not a full Bible Study.

Oh yes, and I’ve been reading some interesting books. I’ll share some reviews in upcoming posts.

We’ve also been visiting churches in the area. We wanted to see what was going on down here in the Calvary Chapels and we’ve even visited some churches that aren’t Calvary Chapels… just to see what’s going on, what the Lord is doing. I doubt I will write publicly about that, maybe I’ll make some general observations about the culture at some point.

Oh… and I stopped drinking coffee a few months ago. I don’t want to change my blog name though! LOL. I still love it. The problem was I loved it too much, and the caffeine was wreaking havoc in my body.

So, that’s the update. And, if we went for coffee today and had some time we would likely hit all of those topics at some point.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2022 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Big Changes… Letter to the church after the Church-Wide Meeting recently…

Here’s what I sent through our email list after our church-wide meeting at Calvary Ottawa on Monday, September 27th, 2021. I have edited a couple of sensitive details out because this is posted to the public.

Greetings Church Family!

Let me begin by saying thank you for the time away that you gave us. I know that it was short notice, and I know that many of you were troubled by that. Gen and I appreciate so much that we were able to take that time to pray, think and talk over all that’s going on.

As you all are well aware, our society has changed dramatically, and it has changed the way that we operate as a church. I’m afraid there are more changes on the horizon. We need to talk about that. We will need to make some changes in order to continue gathering as a church, continuing to grow as Christians, reaching out to others and maybe most importantly passing on the faith to our children. 

In beginning to think about that and pray about that, reckoning with the changes that have already happened in Canada, what is on the horizon, and the particular needs of my family and my responsibilities to them, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not the right guy to pastor this church. I’ve been the right guy and I want to be the right guy, all the elders want me to be the right guy, but the Lord has made it obvious to both Gen and I, that I’m not going to be able to continue. We are going to try to relocate to the States.

There’s two important truths that we need to be reminded of in moment’s like this.

First, Jesus is the head of the church, He’s the brains of the operation, and He will lead and He will guide not only because He promised to, but also because He purchased us not with silver or gold or perishable things, but with his own precious blood. He is the Good Shepherd, and whatever good you have seen in me as a pastor has come from Him. 

Second, the Christian life is a life of faith. And, it takes faith under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to step away, to release a role, in order to watch the Lord meet the need through someone else. We live by faith. 

As, Gen and I have begun to walk down this road, by faith, to my surprise and delight, the Lord has provided for us a team of seasoned Calvary Chapel Pastors that are going to come alongside of us while we make a transition to a different senior pastor. 

What I’d like to do is introduce a couple of them to you this evening, and then, we can share what we believe the future is going to look like, at least for the next several months. 

(We introduced Bill HoldridgeChris McCarrickTrip Kimball, and John and Laura Cowan)

The plan: I’ll finish our quarantine and be in-person at Calvary on October 10thand again on the 17th. We are going to be dedicating all the Petrenko children that morning, it will be glorious. Pastor Trip Kimball will be with us on the 24th and Poimen will take over from there.  

Side note: The last time Pastor Chris was in Ottawa was the weekend that Jon Ruby was filled with the Holy Spirit, and his whole family came to Calvary for the first time. 

Pastor John and the team from Poimen will become what’s called the “Transitional Senior Pastor” on that day. Trip will be around for a couple of weeks, and then Pastor John Cowan and his wife Laura are going to come shortly afterwards. They will be here for 4-6 months and help us identify who the Lord has called to be the pastor here at Calvary. 

What’s going to happen to me and the Falleurs? Well, we don’t know yet. We are going to try to move back to the States. There’s some hurdles there, but it looks like we can do that. The good news is that everyone seems to be hiring in Florida, the population has grown significantly in almost every city, and Jesus has been faithful to lead us and guide us all these years, I’m sure he will lead us to some people that we can be a blessing to. We are open to what He wants to do. 

What can you do to help? 

  1. Pray:
    1. That’s the best thing to do, especially if you have anxiety or worry, or your overcome with disappointment, or you may even be angry. Let me encourage you to take that to the Lord in prayer. This is something that He’s doing. We are trying to follow the leading of His Spirit.
    2. Pray for us, pray for the elders, for Steve and Sharon and Zac, and for who the Lord has called to be our pastor here.
  2. Serve: There’s going to be new opportunities to help out. Look for those.
    1. Currently, we need a handful of you to take up this opportunity to disciple the next generation, our children. There’s 48 children here that are under 8 years old. Let’s share the truth in love with them.
    2. Let’s keep the Upper Room open to the church community. We need this available and accessible in Ottawa like never before.
  3. Give:
    1. If you’ve been blessed by our ministry here in Ottawa and would like to help us with what the Lord has for us next, the best way to give is to donate to the church here. This will help us in tying up loose ends here, moving costs, and establishing a new home in the States.
    2. We are also looking for accommodations for Trip Kimball and then John and Laura Cowan for the time they will be with us. We will need an apartment, or house or room for them for several months. They also need a car to drive while they are here. If you have leads or ideas or friends with cottages or spare bedrooms or wings of their house, or mother-in-law suites, please let’s talk.

And, then we prayed and closed off our meeting by moving into the lobby of AltarLive and some conversations continued. 

As always, the elders and I are open to your feedback. In addition, take advantage of our new relationship with Pastor John Cowan, Trip, Chris and Bill Holdridge. 

May the Lord bless you.

soon!

andy

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Some Thoughts on Church Boards, especially for church planters and young pastors

Some Thoughts on Church Boards, especially for church planters and young pastors

Today, I’m drinking Peru Huabal from Equator Coffee. The beans are processed completely different. It’s called “honey process.” You can read more about it here.

So, there I was, about a year into church planting… and I was attending a Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference in NY. They had a Q&A session, and I asked: “what should I look for in Board Members?”

Bil Gallatin spoke up, and it felt like it was pretty quick and bold. “Look for men that are filled with the Holy Spirit.” He went on to say how often we look for people that are successful in life, or appear to be successful in the world, but neglect to look for the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

It was a great answer, because I wasn’t expecting it, but immediately felt… “duh! Of course!” And, then it did send me on a journey of meditating on what evidences show being filled with the Spirit. Often times, we automatically think of someone that’s “on fire for God.” But, experience has shown that sometimes, those folks aren’t consistent over time, and don’t have lives that demonstrate wisdom.

We can talk about that more if you want.

But, elders and Board members (and anyone on the platform) is a crucial decision. It’s easy to put people in those positions. It’s almost impossible to get them out if there’s problems. It’s better to be really, really slow, especially with the Board.

Because, if there’s drama at the Board level, there will be chaos in the congregation. I have a friend that just survived a coup.

I have another friend and the Board of his church is intimidated by the pastor. It’s a real problem, because it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to share the truth in love. And, the pastor has some blind spots. In fact, he’s firmly in that place described in the phrase the emperor has no clothes.

Gen and I talked about it a bit last evening. The heartache that gets spread all around when the Board doesn’t have mature, wise, courageous people. People that are full of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of that heartache is born by the Pastor’s wife and children.

I’m very, very grateful for each of the people that serve on the Board at Calvary. We have navigated some very difficult situations in the last 3 years.

I’m also very grateful for Brett Robinson, Chuck Smith, Brian Brodersen and yes… Bil Gallatin.

What do you do if you don’t like the people in your Board, or don’t like the culture of your Board? First, it would be to pray. We have to remember that the church belongs to Jesus Christ. He purchased it (and you) with His blood. He’s the Head of the church, the brains of the operations, and as such, He has the privilege of making the decisions.

Ask Him what He wants you to do. It may be to wait. I have a friend whose church had all kinds of problems. As he prayed, the Lord caused one of the Board Members to be caught in his sin. When that happened, and the person resigned, peace came into that leadership team.

It may be that the Lord wants you to confront someone, and speak the truth in love.

It may be that you need to leave. I know of a church that seems to churn through pastors. That isn’t the pastor’s fault. There’s a problem on the Board.

I often reflect on Paul in Troas. Here’s what he wrote: “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Because the Board really has to operate as a team, and because the nature of church is spiritual, and in the context of spiritual warfare, it’s important to trust and have a good relationship with everyone on the Board. If there’s no brother like Titus, even if there’s an open door. It’s okay to say good-bye and move on.

This conversation might stretch into a refill!

What are your thoughts? What’s been your experience?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 12, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

And… we’re back…

And… we’re back…

If we went for a coffee today, I’d like to talk about all these changes that are happening to the online world. Several years ago, I ended this blog, and deleted all the content, because it just didn’t seem like it was the best way to put content out to the world.

But…

Over the past few months, it finally dawned on me that Facebook and Instagram and Twitter are all “private property.” I suppose WordPress is also private property, but I’m hoping that it will be a little less intense to deal with if needed.

So… my current thought is to resume using this weblog.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,