Church of the Week: Huber Heights (OH) First Church of God

The lovely Robin and I, joined by our daughter Aubrey and son-in-law Kevin and their youngest child, Avery, had a wonderful time of worship and fellowship yesterday at Huber Heights First Church of God in--wait for it--Huber Heights, north of Dayton, Ohio.
We were there on that particular Sunday because our old and dear friend, Bill Riley, was "candidating" for the senior pastor position at this church. We were warmly greeted multiple times before we got to the sanctuary. We sat with Lorraine and Courtney on the front row during the 10:30 a.m. service, which was led by a full worship team (keyboard, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, and three vocalists). I especially enjoyed the drummer, a young man who was on his game. 
Bill preached on "Living Like Jesus in the Community," from Luke 19:1-10, and did a wonderful job. I'm always on pins and needles when Bill preaches because you just never know what he's going to say or do. He gave the assembled crowd of (I'm guessing) two hundred or so good reason to affirm the search committee's choice for him as their next senior pastor, and lo and behold, after a congregational meeting that followed the service, they did!  
Of course, while waiting for the congregational meeting to end, I snooped--er, toured--around the church a little, and it is an impressive facility, lovingly maintained. I especially liked the fact that the church library is actually a library, with books on all four walls. Yea for them! 

I'm sure it won't be our last visit to this church. We'll be happy to return often. 

Huber Heights First Church of God worships at 6900 Brandt Pike in Huber Heights, Ohio.

The Pastor's Desk (Episode 40)

The pastor's desk above belongs to my friend, Major Doug McGuire, who serves with his wife as corps officer/pastor of The Salvation Army in East Liverpool, Ohio (it's a real place, honest!).

His wife vows that there was no tidying involved. She says it's always this neat. She has also never offered to send a photo of her desk.

(If you would like to participate in this recurring feature on the Desperate Pastor blog, submit a photo of a pastor's study, office, or desk--but no tidying up before taking the picture, mind you--to, along with a short description identifying to whom it belongs)

Six Preachers (and a "special") for the Price of One

Pastor Broderick Rice, "flowing in the pathetic." He made me laugh out loud with his T. D. Jakes impression.

10 Things I'd Do Differently

Billy Graham was once asked, "If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?" Billy. Graham. After roughly seventy years of amazingly effective ministry, perhaps the most effective itinerant ministry in history--at least since Paul of Tarsus.

I won't tell you what he said (you can read that interview here) other than to say he very quickly mentioned four things he would have done differently.

I'm no Billy Graham. I'm barely even Billy Goat Gruff (ask your mom). So if he listed four things he'd do differently, it should be no surprise to anyone that I can easily list ten:

1. I would pray a LOT more. I prayed, of course, from the start, but not nearly as I learned to do much later. Maybe it took the wisdom of years to realize how much I needed prayer and how much prayer I needed.

2. I would spend more time with my wife and kids. Unapologetically. Even fiercely.

3. I would say no. It also took me a long time to understand how much of a "people pleaser" I am, and how liable I was to let others set my agenda and calendar for me.

4. I would Sabbath. Several years in to my pastoral ministry experience, I did begin to carve out a "day off," but it wasn't until much later that I learned and experienced the blessing of a weekly Sabbath.

5. I would talk mission and vision incessantly. An older and wiser pastor once urged me to cast vision every ninety days or it will "seep out." My response was more or less, "yeah, right." He was right. I was wrong.

6. I would read my Bible. Sure, sure, I read my Bible. Like every pastor. That's just it, though. If I had the chance to do it again, I would read my Bible more and differently--like a pirate reads a treasure map, like a death row prisoner reads a pardon, like a poor relation reads a rich uncle's will.

7. I would show mercy. I regret some of my leadership decisions over the years, and most--maybe all--of my regrets relate to a failure of mercy.

8. I would (God helping me, because He would have to, contrary to my nature as it is) address conflict, gossip, and disunity one-on-one, as early as possible and as often as necessary.

9. I would do less and teach my church how to do less. I would focus on a few things (as this book suggests) and do them well, and one of those few things would be helping the church do a few things and do them well.

10. I would eschew "growing my church" in favor of "blessing our community."

Shoot, I could easily keep going. And going. I could be the "Energizer Bunny" of "things I would do differently." But these will suffice for now, because they will have to.

From Forced Fellowship to Respectful Friendliness

I have never been a fan of the "stand-and-greet" custom in many churches (called "passing the peace" among our more liturgical brethren and sistren). In theory, it makes people feel welcome and makes a church seem friendly. In practice, however, I think it makes visitors uncomfortable, makes introverts uncomfortable, and almost never produces meaningful interaction between the species (introverts/extroverts/ambiverts).

So I was glad to see this post from Thom Rainer, in which he suggests better ways to make a church welcoming and friendly. I think he's on to something.

A Missing Ingredient

"If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music."

(Thomas Merton)