A Brutiful Ride
January 23-24, 2010
The Bible says in the Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Whatever you do. Whatever you do. Whatever I do. We should conduct ourselves in a manner that’s worthy of the gospel of Jesus. In other words, manner matters. Honor and respect are huge.
Just several days ago, I was looking at my iPhone. Anybody have an iPhone here? Any iPhones in the house? Yeah, we got iPhones. And I was looking at my calendar, because I do a good bit of traveling, especially in the fall and winter and spring time. And I was just kind of looking at that and I thought to myself, “Wow!” You ever say ‘Wow’ to yourself? “Wow!” I looked at the calendar. I go, “This is my 20th Anniversary of the first sermon I ever preached at Fellowship!”
Now, it’s not the church’s 20th Anniversary, our 20th Anniversary is going to be this September. And man, we’re going to have a par-tay! It’s going to be crazy-great! That’s in September.
But I was kind of reflecting and thinking about manners. And during this fast that I’ve been on, I’ve been praying about certain things and contemplating certain things, thinking about the future and asking God where he wants us to go. And as I looked at my calendar, it was like, boom! I thought, “Whoa. 20 years ago.”
Two decades ago Lisa and I drove up here with a suburban, one child, and a dream that God had given us. You see, I was in Houston working as an Associate Pastor and I felt this leading to step out and to go into the ministry. I wanted to pastor my own church. I knew God was nudging me that way.
Now, I advertised to all my friends, “There’s one place,” I said, “I will never-ever go–Dallas / Fort Worth. I said I’ll never do it. I’m not going to Dallas / Fort Worth.” I said, “I like Dallas / Fort Worth, but I’m not going there. Too many sheeple’s there, too many seminaries there, too many religious people there. I’m not going to Dallas / Fort Worth. I’ll go anywhere else.”
I wanted to go somewhere where there weren’t a lot of churches. You know maybe even in Canada or Northern California. At the time, Las Vegas, or somewhere else. I did not want to go to Dallas / Fort Worth.
But here’s the deal. You might want to jot this down. In God’s economy, things don’t always add up. They really don’t. From our perspective, things don’t always make sense. I wouldn’t ever, ever have thought about going to Dallas / Fort Worth, yet God led us up here.
And the first message I ever preached before the church – there were 30 families in the house – was a message called ‘Running the Race.’ I only knew about two sermons, and that was one of the two – ‘Running the Race.’
And it was sort of like an American Idol thing. After I preached, it was called a trial sermon. Isn’t that weird or what? After I preached, the church voted on me, if they liked the sermon or not. Yay, or nay.
After I preached, they said, “Ed, would you please leave the room?” And they voted on me. It was really wild. And thankfully, I had more yays than nays, and I became the pastor of Fellowship Church.
I remember, like it was yesterday, I was the only staff member in the house. Church paid me $35,000 a year. We lived in a rental property in Irving and we had one car and that was it.
So we began to do some things and I began to just basically take a page out of Christ’s play book and began to teach like he did. Because Jesus was the most creative teacher to ever walk on the soils of this planet. And if you look at his teaching, you see how he always changed. He changed. And whenever you see change, you see creativity. Sometimes he preached from a boat bow, other times he walked along the beach, he drew in the sand, he used visuals. He told stories where people could get it.
30% of his words were words of information and about 70% of the other words were words of application. So, I thought, “You know what? We’re going to be a church that’s going to communicate stuff that helps people in between services.” You know what I’m saying to you? So that’s what, so that’s what happened.
Fellowship Church began to grow and things began to take place. And we were in these rented facilities. At the time, our church was called Las Colinas Baptist Church. Did you know that? That used to be our name. Las Colinas Baptist Church. “Hi, I’m Ed Young, Pastor and the sole staff member of Las Colinas Baptist Church.”
We were under the arm of First Baptist Irving. In other words, that was like the mother church, we were like a child, a baby. And then, September, 1990, we became our own self-supporting autonomous church. Hence our anniversary coming up in September.
Well, God began to do some mighty things. And, as I tell people all the time, I’m the most surprised person who ever walks into the doors of Fellowship Church. I did not plan this. I did not think this up. I had no concept, none, that Fellowship Church would be the church it is today. No idea.
I was standing outside greeting some of the cars before this service, and I was just like, “Lord, I cannot believe this. I can’t believe I’m standing here in Dallas / Fort Worth. I can’t believe I’m standing here at one of our 6 campuses. I can’t believe the kaleidoscopic range of people that are filing through to experience you here – whoa!”
Well, we were Las Colinas Baptist. Preston Mitchell, Owen Goff. Some of you know them. If you don’t, you need to get to know them. Doris Scoggins, in the early days. And at the time, they were working, you know, in the secular world. They we’re on staff, because again, we couldn’t afford anybody but me.
So we had this meeting, because Preston was like, “You know what? We’ve got to drop ‘Baptist’ out of our name. I mean, denominations are man-made. I mean, it’s great, you know, to be Baptist or Methodist or Catholic or whatever, but there’s one problem with that – they’re not mentioned in the Bible. So let’s just be the church, and let’s drop ‘Baptist.’ Because denominational labels kind of pigeon hole you into a certain vibe.”
So, we began to talk to people about dropping ‘Baptist.’ And we had this meeting. I remember Preston was up front leading this meeting, and Preston goes, “Ok, we really feel led to drop ‘Baptist’ out of our name so we can reach more and more people. Because after all, we’re going to be just a church that follows the Scriptures.”
And some people said, “Well, no, no, no – we’re going to keep ‘Baptist’ in the name.”
And Preston goes, “No, no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Would you rather keep ‘Baptist’ in the name and reach a few people, or would you rather drop ‘Baptist’ and reach the masses?”
You know what these people said? “Keep Baptist in the name.” If I’m lying I’m dying. And eventually, they left and went to another church.
Well, God began to move and he began to groove and we began to get in his groove and move with things. And I discovered something in my life early on that I want you to discover. We must give our life to what Jesus gave his life for. Did you hear that? We must give our life to what Jesus gave his life for.
What did Jesus give his life for? You and me. Sinners. Those of us who are fallen and fallible. That’s what Jesus gave his life for. We’re to give our life to that entity. What’s that entity? The church.
The Bible says the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We began Fellowship Church with one thought in mind. We’re all about changed lives. That’s what we’re about. We’re about the God of the universe changing people’s lives.
From the get-go, we said, “Hey, we’re going to be a place that is comfortably uncomfortable. We want everyone to be comforted by Christ, but those of us who are Christ followers, we want to be uncomfortable for him. So those things began to happen at Las Colinas Baptist, then we dropped that, Fellowship of Las Colinas, in the early days. And we were like a church on the move. And you know what? We kicked off this church in an area that was not the best area to start a church. Whenever you see churches exploding in growth, most of the time, they’re around areas that are exploding in growth. Do you follow what I’m saying to you? Most every church.
The unusual story about Fellowship, talking about things that don’t add up in God’s economy, starting a church in Irving, Texas? Flat line community, zero growth, in a little office complex in the middle of nowhere. Then you meet in a cool arts center, the fine arts facility. Then you move across the street to MacArthur High School. A high school that had seen its day decades earlier. Wow! Yet, God began to add, just like the early church, to the number of followers, each and every Sunday.
My father is also a pastor. Some of you know that. Some of you don’t know that. He pastors one of the most attended churches in America. So I grew up in the fish bowl. You know what I mean by that, don’t you? When you’re a pastor, people watch everything you do – what you say, what you don’t say, where you eat, what you don’t eat, where you go, what you drive, where you live, where you don’t live, where you travel, it’s just life in a fish bowl. “(Under water voice) Look, there’s the pastor. Wow, look at him. Really?” That’s just the way it is. And it’s really a cool thing, because it’s built-in accountability. You know, it really, really is. And part of being on stage 24/7, and we’re all on stage 24/7, I hope you know that, in one way or another, we’re never really off stage. You know what I’m saying to you? If you’re a follower of Christ, you’re never like, “Ok, I’m, you know, I’m really not a follower of Christ, I’m kind of off stage.” No, no – we’re on stage 24/7. And as a pastor, which I am, you got to be called to lead. I mean, you got to be called of God to lead. So, whenever you do anything in life, you’re going to have some difficult things. You’re going to have some people who don’t dig it. For example. As Fellowship Church began to grow in the early days, there was one family that pretty much bankrolled our little church. They made up about, I don’t know, 70% of the money that was given. They were involved in the children’s stuff, and the finances, and they were involved in different Bible classes, and as we began to change and do things, Owen and Doris and Preston and I, this family didn’t dig it. The church, because we only had one car, got together and bought me this little car. They leased it, and this family that had some money had given a beautiful piano to the church. Given a cool sound system to the little church, you know. And we started reaching people. They didn’t dig it. So they said, “Ed, hey, we’ll just take your car back.” I’m like, “What? Man, we’re just doing what God’s told us to do.” “No, no, we don’t like the way you and Preston and Owen and Doris are doing the deal.” I said, “Ok, here’s the keys. Take it.” “We just might take our piano back.” “I thought you gave it to the church.” “We might just rip the sound system out.”
They did. They did. You see, we’re talking about spiritual warfare here. We’re not talking about playing Tiddlywinks, or Trivial Pursuit or Clue or Battle. No, no, no. We’re not talking about X-box 360 here. We’re talking about the real deal. I was like, “Whoa, man, this is pretty crazy. This stuff is wild!” But I learned something. When someone comes after you, that’s really the devil, and he is tipping you off to what’s going to happen in the future. So whenever you feel attacked, because we’re going to feel attacked, as believers, as we walk with the Lord, we’re going to feel attacked. If you don’t feel under attack, man, you better (making sound of a heart beat) check your spiritual EKG.
When we’re under attack, the evil one himself is showing us what’s going to happen. The reason he’s after you, the reason he’s up in your grill or in your chili or in my grill or in my chili, is because he knows what’s going to happen. Why the attacks in the early days? Why the attacks today? Because he knows the future. That’s why, as I’ve been saying in this series, the devil is in the details. He doesn’t want us to concentrate on the details. But I’m here to tell you the divine is in the details as well.
This family, they get all upset, and this woman, they’re all volunteers, I mean we didn’t have a staff back then. I was it, you know. This woman resigns, by the grace of God, from working in the children’s ministry. Again, her family is the one who is bankrolling the whole thing. And the day that she resigned, it was on a Sunday morning, this woman hung black wreaths on the doors of the nursery. Just think about that for a second.
No wonder I did that series called Crazy Pill. Anyway. Even Ozzy Osborne talks about the crazy train.
Here’s something I’ve learned. If you’re walking with the Lord, throw yourself, if you’re in the church, throw yourself into the spin cycle of success.
What’s the spin cycle of success? Change. Change. That’s what walking with the Lord is all about. If it ain’t broke, break it. Change. We’ve got to be changing, emerging, evolving, maturing, growing, developing as we walk with the Lord. Change.
And we’ve introduced change at Fellowship Church for two decades. As I was looking at my iPhone and checking out the calendar and thinking about 20 years ago, I’m like, “Lord, I cannot believe the changes that you have inspired and wired into my life, and the lives of Fellowship Church.” Change. Change. That’s what it means to walk with the Lord. Change.
Whenever you change, though, what happens? It’s part of the spin cycle of success. Change – you’ve got conflict. Ah, conflict. Conflict. Most of us resist change because of the resistance. We resist change in our marriage, we resist change in our finances. We resist change in our friendships. We resist change in our habits. We resist change because of the resistance. But I’m here to tell you, if you will allow the Lord to negotiate though the conflict, here’s what will happen.
You’ll emerge with amazing, gargantuan, crazy growth. Change, conflict, growth. “(Singing) Cha-cha-change, cha-cha-change…” Right? You’ve got conflict, and you’ve got growth. “Wow, whoa! Look at the growth!”
Here is how to never have conflict. If you want to live a conflict free life, don’t do jack. Just stand there; just exist.
But whenever you step up and step out, what’s going to happen? You’re going to have conflict. Conflict is good. Conflict is your friend. Conflict is your homie, conflict is your pal. Conflict is good. Chaos is good. Part of the Christian life is conflict and chaos. The tension. That’s part of it, it’s a good thing–it’s a God thing.
Conflict. Are you having it in your marriage? Should be. You should be. Yeah. You should have conflict in your marriage. If you handle conflict properly, the change properly, you’re going to have growth.
Are you having conflict at your job? On the team? In the classroom? You should be. If you handle it properly, what’s going to happen? You gonna grow. You’re gonna grow.
Well, to be totally candid with you, there’s been about half a dozen times that I’ve wanted to quit Fellowship Church. In fact, the last time I said I was going to quit Fellowship was probably, I don’t know, 3 or 4 months ago. “I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.” I’m serious.
Now, it’s fine to say that you want to quit, if you know you’re not going to quit. You see, I know I’m not going to quit. But that’s fine to say, “I’m going to quit.” That’s cool. “I’m going to quit. But I know I’m not going to quit.”
Most people quit right before the breakthrough. So many pastors quit right before the break through. Did you realize that something like 40 to 50 thousand pastors quit the ministry a year? Think about that. Men and women who are called of God quitting the ministry.
You know why they quit? I’ll talk about this in a little while. Congregational abuse. First thing. Conflict. Nay-sayers, mockers, scoffers. Number 2: they’re not paid enough. Compensation. That’s another thing. And number 3: stress, anxiety and depression.
Lisa and I have an opportunity to travel domestically and internationally. And I can’t believe we get this chance. It’s only by the blessings of God. We get to talk to thousands and thousands and thousands of believers. And those things I just told you are the things they’re dying to get help on. Dying. So make sure you pray for the pastors and leaders here, for the men and women here. Make sure you pray during this fast for pastors all over the place. Because it’s a high calling, but also it’s the lowest calling you can possibly imagine.
Conflict happens though. Whenever you step out, no matter who you are, if you do something in the business world, if you’re the good athlete, or, or if you win the beauty contest or make cheerleading, or if you can draw pretty good or take good photographs, or if you’re like, “Wow, you’re pretty good on the dance class,” whatever you do, work in the educational world, the medical world, whatever you do, when you step up and step out, when you begin to make a difference, what’s going to happen? You will have the mockers and scoffers. People love to drink that hater-aide. They really do, and that’s ok. That’s ok.
I love to fish as you know. One time I saw a tiger shark, about a 8-footer, literally beach itself chasing after a fish that big. I’m like, “What in the heck is that shark doing?” Big ol’ monster shark chasing a bait fish that big. And he barely wiggled his way back into the water.
Don’t chase down people who are drinking hater-aide in your life. You’re a tiger shark. Turn to your neighbor and go (growl), just do that, it’ll free you up. Everybody together, one-two-three, I’ll do it with you, “(growl) You’re a tiger shark.” You’re a big fish. What are you doing chasing bait fish around? What are you doing?
“Oh, I’m going to chase that rumor down.” “Well, somebody texted something about me.” “And did you see that blog?” “And they think…” “They might…” “They said…” “They feel…”
Got to pray, that’s why we’re fasting, and stay above the fray.
Think about Nehemiah whenever you jump down off the wall, which Nehemiah did not do. Whenever you jump into the fray and mud-sling with your haters–you become prey. You jump into the fray? You become fray.
Criticism happens. And here’s something I’ve discovered, too, about being in the ministry. You know what the ministry is? Every job has its unique stresses and strains. You have stresses that I don’t have, I have stresses that you don’t have, and this is not some martyr talk. “Oooh, it’s so hard…” It’s the greatest life in the world–you’ve got to be called to it.
But, in the ministry, conflict happens, change happens, growth happens, if you’re walking with God. But watch this, now. When people criticize you, you’re friends don’t need an explanation. Did you hear that? When people criticize you, and they will, because you’re doing something. I know, all of you are. You’re friends don’t need an explanation. Your enemies won’t believe one anyway.
Now, the Bible says in Proverbs 27:6, this is cool, and we’ll talk about accountability a little bit, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” You’re going to receive criticism. You gotta receive people that you have this affinity with, that you’re accountable to. But just for someone to take a pot-shot or have some kind of accountability assassin in your life or my life, are you kidding me? Most of the time when people walk up to you or me and go, “Who are you accountable to?” what are they saying? “I want you to be accountable to me.” That’s not biblical accountability. Accountability. Criticism.
The ministry is brutifal. There is a brutal side to it, and there is a beautiful side to it. I’m talking about the beautiful side. Wow, courtside seats to life-change! Courtside seats to seeing what God is going? Courtside seats to watching Fellowship Church over the last 20 years grow from 30 families to, I’m thinking about 20,000 today. We have about, what, 45,000 to 50,000 who come to Fellowship Church every 6 weeks. We’ve got 6 campuses. I can’t even believe it.
Right now as I’m talking, this is being seen all over. It’s being seen in Miami, it’s being seen in Plano, it’s being seen in Dallas, it’s being seen in Fort Worth, it’s being seen at Allaso Ranch–and you’re watching it. Most of you are watching it on the screens. What’s so funny is sometimes people will say, “Yeah, I like the satellite campuses, but I like it live.”
And I’m like, “You ought to watch our security cameras. The only people that watch me, like directly, are about from this row up. The rest, they’re looking at the screens. Explain that one. Well anyway.
There’s a beautiful side to ministry. It’s the highest calling in the world. And when I told my father, I said, “Dad, I feel called into the ministry.”
You know what he said? “Son, if you can do anything else and be happy, go do it. Don’t go into the ministry.” And again, my father pastors one of the most attended churches in America. He told me, “Don’t do it! Don’t!” he said, “unless you know that God is calling you into it.”
Well, I went back and began to pray about it, think about it, and I’m like, “I know I’m being called into it. Dad, I know I’m being called into it.” “Ok,” he said.
And I’ve been courtside to life change. The opportunities, the blessings, to walk on the edge and the ledge of what God is doing. I think about Fellowship Church. I hope you know this. If you study church history, you know that this has only happened 3 or 4 times in the history of the church over the last several hundred years, what you’re about right here. Did you know that? Study it. Study history. This is not normal what God’s doing. I’m just happy to be a part of it, aren’t you? I mean, wow, it’s only by God’s grace. Unbelievable stuff.
So the church is a beautiful thing. The calling of God is beautiful. Every time I see this stage, I kind of have a love / hate relationship with the stage. I really do. I just do. It’s kind of like the rage of the stage. Having to give a message every week before a bunch of people–it messes me up. I try to spend an hour of preparation for every minute I speak. So if I’m speaking 27 minutes, maybe, I don’t know, 25 hours. 20 minutes, 20 hours. I have to do that just to study.
And one of the weird pressures about pasturing is you can’t put it off. It’s not like, “Well, you know what? Lisa and I had a fight Friday, and I just don’t feel it. You know, I just don’t feel like preaching. And you know, man, the weather is amazing. Plus, we got tickets to the Cowboys game. I’m just not going to preach this weekend, you know. I just don’t really feel… I got a (cough) little cough. Just…”
No! It’s like a tsunami every week. Think about it. It starts to form, to swell, like on Wednesday. “Whoa – do I have something? Have I heard from God?” It better be biblical. It better be engaging, better be funny, better be relevant.
We’ve got seminary professors who attend Fellowship Church who know the Hebrew and the Greek, and in the Latin. Oh, we also have people who’ve never seen a Bible. We have strippers that come to Fellowship Church, and we have professional athletes, and we have Real Estate tycoons, and we have people who are dirt poor. We have people who are in work, people who aren’t work. We have people who work for the government, people who don’t really even like the government. And we have black, white, green, orange, polk-a-dot, white collar, pink collar… “Wow, whoa! How can I give a word to all those people, this kaleidoscopic range of people at Fellowship Church? Wow, I’m stressed out! Oh, I got anxiety.”
And believe me, I’ve dealt with this, even medically. I’m telling you, man, this is the real deal. I get nervous every time I walk on stage. How do I do it? I don’t. I mean, I do the best I can, but God does it. I never feel totally prepared here. Never, ever, ever, ever. And the day I feel prepared, the day I feel like, “Oh, I’ve got it now, man. I can do it. Oh yeah, yeah.” I will quit. I will quit then. But I get freaked out every time I walk on stage.
So, it’s a beautiful thing to be lifted up. But I was thinking the other day, all of us live on stage. If you’re a parent, you’re on stage, man. You’re a student? You might not think it – you’re on stage. Someone’s watching you. You’re an athlete? Someone’s watching you. You’re a pastor? Someone’s watching you. They’re watching you and me. And in my life, again, it’s like life in an aquarium.
One time I was talking to a counselor about the stress and anxiety of preaching. I was going through some tough times. And there’s this counselor who is not even a believer, was looking at me and she was like, “Ok, let me get this right, Ed. You’re telling me, you and your wife can’t even go to a movie or a restaurant in Dallas / Fort Worth without someone looking at you or coming up to you?”
I said, “Correct.”
She goes, “I’d quit.” This is a psychologist!
I go, “Well, no, I’m not going to quit, I’m called to do it. But it is weird. It’s a weird thing. But it’s a good thing. It’s beautiful. But there’s a brutal side to it. That’s the side off the stage that no one sees and no one really thinks about.
Sometimes people ask me, “What do you do during the week?”
“Well, I already know what I’ll do for at least 20 hours next week.” So, Fellowship Church, man, unbelievable, what God’s doing.
Something else we’re doing right now that I want to share with you, and this is another ministry that I’m involved in, because when you say, “Ed Young, Pastor.” Don’t put a period, put a comma. I’m not just a pastor. Now, you understand that, don’t you? Hopefully by your name, it’s not like, Melissa – period. Pace – period. Tom – period. Shauna – period. It should be a comma. I do other things than pastor. If I’d a put a period after my name in Houston, it’d a just been “Ed Young, Associate Pastor, period.” I would have missed this! But now I’m Senior Pastor at Fellowship Church, have been a part of Fellowship for two decades, I’m not going to quit. I’ll say I’ll quit, but I’m not going to quit. I know I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to quit. Too Legit to Quit. I’m not going to quit.
We have this situation, this alliance we’re putting together right now, that I’m very excited about, it’s another ministry called C3 Global. We have a board of 8 pastors from around the country. I sort of head this organization up. And it’s a network of Pastors all over the world. And one of the things we’re doing, and we’re launching this officially in about 6 weeks. So you guys are the first to hear about it. We’re doing a huge humanitarian effort with this, we’re joining with other churches and ministries, and at this time we’re helping this horrific situation in Haiti and doing some really cool stuff. So we’re doing that. Also, we are consulting and coaching and we do white-board sessions all over the place to help in this realm. Also we plant churches around the world. Isn’t that awesome?
We do leadership conferences. I don’t know if you know this or not, but we have a conference called the creative church conference. We have thousands and thousands of people that converge on Fellowship Church from around the globe. This conference always takes place in February. It’s going to be in a couple of weeks. And it’s become so popular, we’re now going to San Diego to do one, and then we’re going to go to the East Cost in the fall.
And if you want to talk about diversity, people talking about diversity all the time, look at our schedule of speakers. It is so diverse. And isn’t it cool that Fellowship Church is so diverse. I mean, look around! It’s ok to clap. Up in the balcony, what’s up, man, you guys clap! That’s awesome. It’s diverse in the balcony. That’s really diverse man, I can tell. It’s diverse.
We all come from different walks of life, different backgrounds. And the Creative Church Conference, we got diversity, as far as those of us who will be speaking. We got people like Bishop TD Jakes. We got people like Sergio De La Mora. We got people like Miles McPherson. You’ve got people like Brian Houston, you’ve got people like Jentezen Franklin. These are all different types of people, different races, different types of churches. Some are rural, some are in large cities, some are monstrously big, some are small. So this thing is a movement we’re seeing that’s happening here, and it’s also going around the world.
And one of the things that I did not do personally, for the first 15 years of Fellowship Church, is the fact that I did not travel. I just didn’t travel. Had the opportunity, but I didn’t. I would go maybe once a year and speak somewhere, the first 15 years. And that was due to a number of things. Due to where we were at Fellowship Church, due to the age of our kids.
But now, again, by the blessings of God, I have an opportunity, and Lisa has an opportunity, to travel domestically and internationally, all over the place. Every time I travel and talk to leaders and speak at conferences, I take you with me. Lisa takes you with her. And I want to thank you for your boldness and your vision. Because of what God is doing, we simply are telling the story of Fellowship Church. So what’s happening right here is impacting people all over the world.
Just over the next couple of months, let’s see, I’m going to, just internationally, let me think, London, Ecuador, South Africa, back to London and Singapore. Isn’t that heavy? I mean, I can’t believe it. It’s just like, “Whoa, ok.” I feel like I’m just riding on the coattails of this deal, man. It’s unbelievable.
So, we’re doing Fellowship Church. We have C3 Global that you’ll be hearing more and more about–this network of pastors. Also, personally, I’m a partner in a publishing company that I’m really excited about. We resource leaders and pastors, again, all over the place. And one of the great things about being hooked in to this publishing company is the fact that all the people in this company give back in a huge way to this house right here. So that’s something that I’m really, really thrilled about.
On a personal note, I cannot stand here, I cannot lead this church, I cannot walk in a manner worthy of the gospel unless I’m, hopefully before God, walking in a manner worthy of the gospel. Man, as you know, I’m not perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. Our kids aren’t perfect. But by God’s grace, Lisa and I have a wonderful marriage. We have a great family.
But what’s so funny is, you know, here we’re talking about respect. Next week I’m talking about respect in the family. Lisa was speaking this Friday night at a church on the East Coast, and right before I went to bed, man, all our 4 kids were arguing and fighting and I said, “Kids! Knock it off! Here I’m talking about respect and look at you guys disrespecting one another.” That’s just the real world. I’ll talk about respect next time.
But, here’s something that God has shown me as pastor. The more you give up, the more you go up. The more you go up, the more he gives. So, as I lead, I can’t take you, church, where I’m not going or where I’ve not been. Does that make sense? For example. I can’t say, “Oh yeah, ok, bring the tithe. Get involved in bone chilling giving.” I can’t say that unless I’m involved in it. And part of living is giving.
For 20 years, Lisa and I have been bringing the tithe. Everything we have is Gods. When we made $35,000 a year, we brought the tithe. Now we make a lot more than that, and we bring the tithe. In fact, we bring more than 10%. God, again, has poured out his unmerited favor upon our lives. We have an amazing house on about 6 acres. It’s unbelievable. I owe a lot of money on it, but it’s an incredible house. I’ve got some retirement. I’ve got a couple of other investments. But to be just absolutely vulnerable and candid, this is our number one investment right here. I’m talking financially, right here. The church. Number one. Number one. Number one.
So, we have given our lives to what Christ has given his life for. How can I talk about stewardship if I’m not living it, man? The blessings of God are amazing. I’m talking about a comma after pastor, I have an opportunity to write books with some national publishers. Several of the book deals I’ve received have been in the 6 figures. To me, that’s a lot of money, I don’t know about you, but to me it is. And on several of those books, God has just told me, not in an audible voice, but God’s told me, “Ed, give that to Fellowship Church. All of it.” And it’s enough to make my accountant have palpitations. But that’s ok. Again, in God’s economy, things just don’t always add up in a humanistic perspective. But again, how can I, how can I talk about the stuff unless I’m doing it? So, my deal is not to say, “Oh, wow, I want to one day give our kids, you know, a bunch of money when Lisa and I pass on.” I mean, if we can give them something, awesome. But you know what my main thing is? I want to give my kids the currency of courtesy, honor and respect before God and respect to this house. That’s what we want to do. So the greatest, the greatest message I’ll ever preach is not on this stage, it’s not. It’s with my marriage. And my marriage is simply a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. Marriage is not the easiest thing. It’s not.
I know we watch the romantic comedies and read the books and all that, and you have those feelings, and those things are real. However, marriage and life is living on those rugged plains of reality that are always described. And if you’re willing to work, if you’re willing to say, “You know what, I’m not going to quit. Yeah, I’ll think about quitting, but I’m not going to quit.” You pour your life and you pour into your mate the currency of courtesy and honor and respect that comes from God, the blessings that you will receive will be mind-blowing, earth-shattering, they’re going to be crazy great! And I’m a living, walking, talking testimony of that fact.
The ministry is brutifal. There’s a brutal side to it. I have a love / hate relationship with this stage. I mean, I can’t get away from it. I mean, I know next weekend, I’ve got to come up with something about the family. Respect. Ok. I got to write a term paper about respect, that not only do I have to write it, I’ve got to memorize it, and I’ve got to present it in a way that’s biblical and engaging and funny and deep and life-changing. Whoa! Makes me kind of freaky! It’s brutal. Brutal.
Then I’ve got the beautiful side of it. Well, I can see life-change and see how this marriage, man, they were about to call it quits, and now they’re together and they’re walking together in concert. And I see this kid, this kid was on drugs. This kid was messing around with this and that, and now, they’re a leader in our youth ministry. This person was addicted to porn and now they’re free, they’ve gone through one of our 12-step programs. And this person was addicted to alcohol or drugs and whoa!
But then the brutal side is, you pour your life into people, you trust people, and they turn you and burn you and stab you in the back. I’m just being real, man.
You want to talk about betrayal, you talk to a pastor. The level of betrayal and the hurt that pastors carry is like nothing I’ve ever seen. And I have the opportunity to talk to so many of them, and hug so many of them, and help so many of them, and encourage so many of them.
Vulnerability, it’s part of the details of my life. Responsibility, it’s part of the details of my life. Accountability, it’s part of the details of my life. I’m accountable. Someone said the other day that works with a lot of churches, they were like, “Man, I think Fellowship Church has as much accountability built in as anywhere.”
I go, “Well, man, thanks.”
I was just thinking about accountability, because we talk a lot about accountability these days. Accountability emerges from affinity, as I said earlier. I’m accountable to God. In other words, I’m the only one that God will hold accountable, as far as the spiritual maturity of this church. I’m it. He’s not going to hold you accountable, or you, or another staff member, it’s going to be me. So, I’m accountable to God. Number 2, I’m accountable to Lisa, whoa. I’m also accountable to our four kids. I’m accountable to our board at Fellowship Church and I’m accountable to an audit that we do once a year. I’m accountable to an independent compensation survey that they do for me every year. Whoa. So that’s a lot of accountability.
So, accountability is a good thing! Do you have that in your life? Is it flowing in your life? Because it’ll take you to a whole nutha level.
And you need to be accountable to people who challenge you, who love you, who will speak the truth in love. Like last night, some of them told me, “Well, Ed, man, your message was just too long. You rambled a little bit.” I have people that critiqued the messages. And I said, “Yeah, you’re right.”
I mean, this one has been a long one too. 46 minutes. I can tell Lisa wants me to end it because she’s closed her Bible. Whenever Lisa closes her Bible, I haven’t even looked at her. I know it’s time to end. I do. I hadn’t even looked at her. Over the last 15 minutes, I just like been like this. But when she closes that Bible, and I’ve seen her do it all over the world now as we’ve traveled, oh – shut it down, shut ‘er down.
One more thing, and I can’t, you know, look at Lisa, but, if you don’t, I’ve learned this, and this is from Jesus of course, and apply this to where you are, if you don’t draw away, you will be drawn away. “(singing) Everybody needs a little time away…” who sings that? Who? Chicago! Not Barry Manilow. Someone said, “Barry Manilow?” No. That’s a good song, man. Old school. I’ve been going old school lately – Barry Manilow and just a few of his songs I like. I’m not like this, don’t be saying I like Barry. I mean there’s a couple of songs, that’s it, ok. Trying to get in touch with my feminine side. But… I like Chicago, man, they’re good. But a lot of women love Barry Manilow, don’t they? I don’t know why. You know, or Celine. Oh, Celine. I like Celine. Some of her songs, a few of them. I’ve seen her perform in Las Vegas. She’s great. I mean, Celine Dion. I like her. I like the Eagles. Old school. I do. Chicago. I mean, again, I’m just talking about a few of the songs. Anyway, let me stop.
I was saying that we need to draw away. Are you drawing away? Look at Jesus. Whenever Jesus would do an IMA, an Intensive Ministry Activity, read them in the gospels, you know what he would do? He would disengage. He would draw away. He would take a walk. He would go fishing. He would prepare breakfast. He would just go away and pray.
He didn’t chase down the mockers and scoffers. He didn’t chase down and try to change thoughts of every religious leader. He would just, he would just, he would just draw away. That’s why God’s rhythm is for us to work and have that day off. Are you drawing away? Because if I don’t draw away, I’ll be drawn away. And I’m here for the long haul. I’m not going to quit. There’s so many pastors that end up sleeping in the wrong bed. So many pastors end up in this or that and you’re like, “What happened? How can that man or woman have done such a thing?” Well, I’ll tell you why – emotionally, they were drained. Spiritually they were doing fine, physically they were doing fine. Emotionally, they were drained.
I mean, I feel like I go through a mini-depression every weekend after I do all of these services. I mean, I don’t mean I’m like in a fetal position saying, “Mommy, mommy.” I’m just saying I feel totally drained and emotionally wasted. And the cumulative effect of that, if you’re not careful, whatever you do for a living, if you’re a homemaker, a CEO, a pastor, a teacher, whatever it is, if you’re not careful, you’ll be drawn away into things that can forfeit the faith journey and the type of faith journey that God has in your life. So that’s why I try to draw away regularly. And, one of the greatest things about Fellowship Church, let me tell you this, this is not a one-man show, I hope you know that. Our staff is absolutely unbelievable. I have never seen a staff like we have any place I’ve ever traveled. Our staff will do anything, everything, or nothing. But think about the speakers. I mean, just the speakers. When I’m not here, you’ve got Pace, phenomenal speaker. Tianne Moon Melton, I called her by the wrong name. Did I get it backwards? I did. It’s part of my A.D.D. Tianne Melton Moon. I do, I have, I’m going to do a series on A.D.D. I really am, what the Bible says about A.D.D. There’s a lot of A.D.D. people in the Bible. Anybody here is A.D.D? Am I the only one? Thank you, God bless you. Hands are going up everywhere. In the balcony, yes.
Look at people like Chris King and Preston Mitchell. We have a phenomenal stable of speakers. And the greatest compliment is when I’m out of town or I’m not speaking, people go, “Man, that was like unbelievable. Man. We had this and that happen.” That’s some of the greatest compliments you can give Fellowship Church. I mean, it’s a team approach here. And the people on stage who lead worship, I mean, every week I’m like, “What?” So I try to draw away regularly just to recalibrate and become a normal person when I’m not always, you know, up here. But I do preach about, at least 40, 40 weekends a year.
So anyway, I could go on and on, good night, I could tell you so many stories. And one day, you know, maybe I’ll do a whole series on the different stories, some of the crazy stories, the great stories, that I’ve, experienced in this brutifal life. But it is brutifal.
But we need to ask ourselves, once again, are we living the Philippians 1:27 life? How are we conducting ourselves? Take stock, take inventory. Are we conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus? Are you? Are you living that way? Because we either deflect, or reflect the character of God in everything we do. How about you?
It’s a great thing to think about and pray about over the next several weeks. Let’s bow together.
[Ed ends in closing prayer.]