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A Pastoral Statement

Pastoral Statement:

I have been loving God, loving people and watching God work mightily at Christ Church for twenty-two years. That some may want those years of work suddenly defined by a “tweet” on the recent St. Louis General Conference is absurd. If you would like to know where I stand, I invite you to listen to two decades of serious Biblical interpretation, teaching and preaching. Note how I treat absolutely everyone and the smile and energy I try to bring everyday. Read my blog. Watch my sermon videos. Read my books. All are available everywhere. All are free except my books (which gets cheaper by the day).

Christ Church exists to connect people to Jesus Christ. We continue to be what we have always been: A loving community of Christian people who think differently on many things but are united in our mission.

See you in church!

You Can’t Avoid Leadership Stress (so manage it)

Managing leadership stress…

Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Some years ago (when I was still “young-ish” and in my early forties) my health was in a rapidly declining state.  Christ Church was moving from 400 in worship each weekend toward 750 and it was literally killing me.  Our staff was a dysfunctional mess, the congregation was kicking and screaming and I was doing the hard work of re-defining our church culture (without really having any idea what I was doing).  I was packing on the weight (The Sweet Tea, Q and Stew Diet), my blood pressure was soaring and I could suddenly snore the paint off the wall (I awakened each morning and all the paint was on the floor).  In addition, I developed a persistent cough and there were involuntary physical “ticks” being displayed early and often.  Perfect.  After a medical analysis, it was determined that stress was the culprit.  My doctor told me that I either…

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You Don’t Hear Fathers Talk About This Much

Father’s don’t talk about this much…

Rev. Shane L. Bishop

You don’t hear father’s talk about this much. This is an excerpt from my latest book:

Re-Conversion (The “God is Good” Story) (Sumner, Illinois, circa 1996)

Sometime in late 1992, I attended a seminar on how to do ministry with Senior Adults held in Peoria, Illinois. There was this feeble, little man who inched up to the platform (like Tim Conway used to do on the “Carol Burnet Show”) and opened the thing up by proclaiming weakly, “God is Good.” The people replied, “All the time” He quietly responded, “All the time” and they politely finished, “God is Good.” I remember thinking to myself, “This is almost cool! I wonder what would happen if living people tried it?” The potential of this greeting captivated me and all I could think about was putting a V10 engine and glass packs on this thing and flooring it the very next week at…

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Christ Church, MLK and Me circa 2019

Christ Church has been holding special services around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday since the late 90’s. In those days we ran about 300 a week in worship and were anything but racially diverse but we had a dream.

In the early years we participated with our friend Rev. Sylvester Weatherall and the good people of the Washington Park UMC. We did symbolic marches from Grace Church to City Hall, had church and shared a lunch. Forrest Bevineau and I sang the “Reconciliation Song” every year.

When Sylvester moved to Springfield in the early 2000’s, the next January came around and there was no Metro-East celebration to attend. I found the silence deafening. After a one year silence, God spoke to my heart to pick things up at Christ Church. I didn’t feel qualified but the line was non-existent and I did feel called so we began holding annual services and events right here at Christ Church.

Our MLK Service has been graced over the years with Bishops, Scholars, Educators and Judges. We have been blessed by incredible music, poetry and prose. We received new insights and understandings from our incredible Associate Pastor Troy Benton. We have learned that MLK Day is not a Black Holiday, it is an American Holiday! I rejoice in the vision and courage of Martin Luther King Jr. and the new America he helped to build and we continue to build. His was a dream of America in keeping with what our forefathers found to be “self evident.” The simple notion at all men (and women) were created equal and deserve equal opportunity, protection, respect, access and yes, responsibility. I share that dream!

Such egalitarian notions are deeply rooted in the Christian tradition (and my Methodist tradition and that is why I feel Christ Church continues to be a wonderful place to celebrate, remember, worship and be re-membered.

I have long dreamed of a time when Sunday morning is not “the most segregated hour in America” and Christ Church circa 2019 is an example of that prophecy fulfilled!

Gathering together on a special Sunday when we connect to those things most noble, most humane and most Christian is simply a marvelous idea. We will remind ourselves of how far we have come, how far we have yet to go and of the goodness of God.

We will celebrate, lament and dream!

This year our special guest will be IGRC Bishop Frank Beard. I can’t wait!

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

A New Way of Thinking for a New Year

I am a Systems Theorist. I believe that all systems are designed to produce what they are currently producing, not what we hope they will produce. Your life is a system and so is mine. We each have inputs that produce very specific outcomes. Over time, the relationship between these inputs and outcomes becomes highly predicable.
 
In my case, if I eat what I want when I want and don’t exercise, I gain weight.  I have this particular cause and effect sequence clearly established and it should not come as a surprise to me.  Ever.
 
If your outcomes from 2018 consisted of peace, passion, purpose and power, then rock on!  If you are consistently getting the outcomes you desire, you are clearly doing what it takes to produce those outcomes. But if your life in 2018 was filled with dejection, drama, despair and disappointment, then your life was designed to produce those outcomes.
 
Systems theory states that if you want different outcomes in 2019, you will need different inputs than the ones you had in 2018.  It is really that simple.
 
Despite “easily made and quick to fade” resolutions, most people will do in 2019 exactly what they did in 2018…and hope for different results. That my friends, is a life strategy that befits a definition for insanity.
 
Today is a good day to ask what different outcomes you would like to see in 2019 but it is an even better day to decide upon specific changes you are going to make to bring about those outcomes.
 
Too much to tackle? I get it.  Then just tackle one sector.
I am a firm believer that when the “God piece” is right, everything else starts getting right. Since we can’t realistically sustain change in all our inputs at once; a firm commitment to grow in our relationship with God is the perfect place to begin. 
How?  Just take the next step!  You probably know what that next step is already!  It can be as simple as weekly church attendance, giving, daily Bible reading, finding a small group or discovering a place to serve. 
 
When you engage new and positive inputs into your life; you have every reason to believe a great 2019 is coming your way!  
2019 Mantra: Do the right things the right way and you will get the right results in the right time!
2019 Verse: Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.  -Matthew 6:33
2019 Big Idea: Put God first and everything else will find its proper place.
SHANE Valley of the Doves
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.

Following Up Your Big Christmas Week

Social Media is a great tool to keep up with what God is doing in churches far and near.  I love reading each and every glowing report! Many churches had record attendance for Christmas Week and I rejoice with them!  Clearly God was moving. Bam!

However, failure to effectively follow up major “victories” (like a record Christmas Eve) is a common mistake many churches make year after year.  Simply put, they fail to leverage significant events and squander their momentum.  Rather than attendance “spike and build,” they go “spike and back” to where they were before.

Like some of you, Christ Church set a new attendance records this week.  Our Christmas Eve services were incredible and God touched lives profoundly! We exceeded our attendance goal and by the looks of Social Media, people are excited and enthused. We have some serious momentum!

It is not time to rest up.

It is time to follow up! 

Why Do Churches NOT Follow Up?

History is filled with military victories that could have been great victories if the victor had pressed the retreating army.

There are many reasons why this happens:

  1. The victorious army is exhausted and in need of rest
  2. There is an underestimation of remaining strength of the victors
  3. There is an overestimation of remaining strength of the retreating army
  4. Victorious armies desire to celebrate
  5. Generals are unwilling to suffer additional casualties
  6. Generals are happy to leave the field with “a win in their pocket.”
  7. Mission becomes the comfort of the soldiers rather than the objectives of the army

Most churches have few real victories.  Of the churches that achieve significant victories, most fail to follow them up for the same reasons armies fail to follow up.  Churches that consistently grow must not only create victories but learn to leverage victories in systematic and intentional ways.  A great Christmas Eve does not insure a great new year but it can create some momentum toward it!

So you need a few days to rest, I get that but the second you get back to work, it is time to follow up!

Following Up 

  1. If you set a record or had strong attendance, celebrate it!  Get word out!  Let the people in your church, community and region that you have “something going on!”
  2. Hotwash your 2018 Christmas week services and schedule this week while things are fresh on your minds.  What went well?  What went poorly?  What needs adjusted?  What can be added?  What needs replaced?
  3. Ask yourself what can be done to draw another 10% in attendance next year.  Might you add a “get away” service or a Christmas Eve Eve service? Our Christmas Eve Eve service drew almost twice as many people as we expected!
  4. Plan your 2019 Christmas Week schedule immediately.  Get the dates on your calendar.  Keep other things off the calendar that week to free up your human and financial resources.
  5. Thank your key players for their sacrifice.  Then thank them again. Posting photos of volunteers on your Facebook page and hand written thank you notes are always a good start.  Gift cards are even better. Did a volunteer go “above and beyond” the call of duty, take them to lunch. People love being appreciated!
  6. Follow up on all leads and local first time guests.  Take them something they will actually like (we take really good pies from a famous local bakery) and invite them back.
  7. Plan some sort of community service project or outreach in January and invite your new folks to help your church “make the world a better place.” We are doing a one Sunday coat drive.
  8. Work to get your “average” worship service and welcoming ministries up to your Christmas level.  You have established a new bar of excellence, let a raised bar become the “new normal.”

BIG IDEA: Don’t settle for a great Christmas Week!  Follow it up and place yourself in position for a great 2019 church year!

-Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.

Navigating Christmas Week (and staying sane doing it)

 So it is Christmas week!  Here are a baker’s dozen practical ways to help navigate the hustle and bustle of the next few days!

  1. Finish up your shopping The week before Christmas is crazy at the retail centers and you don’t want to be at the mercy of the mail to deliver an on-line order before the wire.  Finish up.  Settle down.
  2. Adjust your attitude If you are doing Christmas entertaining out of duty, guilt or obligation, it is always going to be an emotional drag.  Shift your thinking.  You are blessed because you have people to bless!  Enjoy the season.
  3. Stay within budget The days leading up to Christmas can tempt us to “add on” to what we are buying for family and friends.  This can take us over budget and provide a rough start to the new year when the credit card bill arrives.  Remember this rule: If you have to charge it, you can’t afford it.
  4. Slow it down Don’t fly through things. Think of Christmas week like a great steak and not a cheap hamburger.  Savor every bite.  Christmas is way too special to just gulp it down.
  5. Pull up a chair or two Do you know someone nice who will be spending Christmas alone?  Invite them to your festivities!  You will be surprised how quickly you will get a “yes.”  There is always plenty of leftover food anyway.
  6. Build in worship The more Christmas themed worship services you can attend, the better you will be connected with the reason for the season. Make traditions around worship attendance on Christmas Eve or other special services and you will create a generational legacy of worship in your family!
  7. Tell stories Make sure there is time to remember those no longer at the Christmas table. Celebrate their lives and their contributions to your life.  Tell funny stories and laugh!   Honor your empty chairs.
  8. Delete drama Drama feeds off of drama. If you have someone running for Christmas Drama King or Queen this year, just don’t pay any attention to them.  Drama quickly dies for lack of fuel.  Fuel it and it will burn the whole house down.
  9. Share the Christmas story BEFORE you open gifts Anything special you think you are going to do after gifts are opened isn’t going to happen. Read the Christmas story before the gift exchange.  Link what you are about to do with God’s gift of Christ Jesus.
  10. Offer grace at Christmas dinner Have people put their phones away and actually have a formal Christmas Grace. Do it old school.  Hold hands.  Don’t have a child do this one.  Whoever the spiritual leader of your family happens to be, they should take the honor.  And don’t make the prayer too long.  I really like, “Almighty God, you have blessed us so much…and we are grateful.  Amen!”
  11. Treat people really well Regardless of who joins you for your Christmas celebration or the dynamics of their story, treat them really well. Remember that you don’t have to approve of every aspect of a person’s life to make them feel welcome and show them love.
  12. Create memories I remember very few gifts I received growing up but I will never forget Christmas Eve services, snowball fights, football games and family game times.  And take lots of pictures.
  13. Honor the aging.  Pay special attention to the older members of your family.  Make sure they are included and celebrated.  Ask them questions.  Learn from them.  Put it into the “things I will never regret” file.

Merry Christmas Dear Friends.

Remember Jesus.  Choose love and forgiveness.  Hold it steady.  Navigate well.

Winter Smoky Mtn Tunnel

 

Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.