Author Archive for

16
Sep
19

New Church Plant, New Stage and New Staff

In a couple of months, we here at UPCC will celebrate our official ten-year anniversary.  When we started UPCC we had a vision to stay small and relational so we could do relational discipleship effectively and see God’s kingdom expand.  As I stated in my last blog, our new church in Boyertown was launched on Sunday Sept 8, 2019 with over 50 adults and children from UPCC.  The leader of this new group has been an assistant pastor here at UPCC, so the Elders have been on the hunt for a full-time person to fill Bryan’s big shoes (figuratively not literally😊) as soon as we could.  As is often the case God had a different plan.

Instead of a full-time assistant pastor, God brought in a part time youth pastor and a half time assistant pastor.

Spencer Schwartz, our new Youth Pastor, is no stranger to UPCC.  He and his wife Claire have been members here since almost the beginning.  Spencer’s full-time job is leading the Off the Wall ministry location here in PA but with a great youth staff and the connections he already had it has been a pretty smooth transition.  Spencer has been with us on staff for the whole summer, so this has allowed for a great transition.

Although we were super excited to have the youth pastor role filled, we still really wanted a full-time guy to do all that Bryan did.  There were some great candidates but, in the end, God decided to bring along a veteran pastor to help us out half time.

Ray Kulbeda will be starting with us on Sunday September 23 as our new Assistant Pastor!!  Ray comes with a large amount of pastoral and financial experience.  He has a heart for disciple making and has the experience we need to help fill some of the vital roles that Bryan has so capably done.

Now if all that is not enough to keep us busy, we tore out all of our old boilers in order to get new ones for the winter, are in the final leg of having our back parking lot fixed and paved and we began the first step in a three phase plan to replace the stage, tech, sound and lights!!  Whew!!

All along the way the devil has been strategically attacking our church family.  We have stayed united as a body, but the individual families are getting fiercely buffeted.  Grief, health issues, financial burdens, family strife, job loss, mental health challenges and so much more.  The devil seems to have a playbook on how to hit the vulnerabilities of each member family in our church body.

Please pray for us as we celebrate His goodness, strive to keep the unity, fight the evil one and stay faithful to His plan.  And if you don’t have a church home and are willing to lock arms with us in this craziness and are passionate about reaching the lost and making disciples, we have a place for you to call home.  Know this, we are not overcome but are overcomers because of Christ!!

09
Sep
19

242 Church in Boyertown has been launched!!

On Sunday, September 1, there were a couple of amazing milestones.  It was the ten-year anniversary of our “soft” launch of UPCC and the send off service for 242 Church.  Tears were shed, laughter was heard, and prayers were lifted up as over 50 adults and children committed to this new body.  For one last time we worshipped as one church and it was a sweet, sweet service.

 

This Sunday UPCC still met, sang praises, heard the Word preached, shared testimonies and continued on.  In fact, even with the church plant group gone we were three quarters of the way full in our auditorium.  Then that night 242 Church did the same for the first time. It was in a rented space at a Kingdom minded church and just like that a new church was born.

 

Our philosophy of church planting is that we are birthing a new “child” – a child that at first needs special nurture and care.  242 will remain under the umbrella of UPCC’s elders and will have the same Deacons.  In order to protect both ministries we will continue with the same budget.  As 242 gets strong and is ready to stand on its own they will have their own membership, elders, deacons, budget and become an independent church family.  Our desire is to still have a few events a year together, a couple of joint services and have a symbiotic connection as we will always be not only in the same kingdom but of the same DNA.

 

Personally, this has been really hard and really awesome.  I hate to see people I have poured into and loved leave.  My right-hand man and our secretary are both a part of the new church.  Emotionally, I mourn the loss as I contemplate what pastoring UPCC will be like without them.  Spiritually, I am super excited as I know we are following God’s command to birth new works.  I am excited as God has brought in new staff (more on that in my next blog) and has fulfilled a goal we have had since we first started.

 

The best things in life are never the easiest but if we live in obedience to God although our hearts will be heavy, they will also be full.

 

As God gives you opportunities to be stretched, embrace them.  You will never regret living a life committed to following and trusting in Him.  Please join me in rejoicing and praying for both UPCC and 242😊.

06
Jul
19

Spiritual warfare is real

What comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘spiritual warfare’?  Dark nights with moving shadows that follow you from the depths of the darkness?  Winged creatures swooping down and grabbing their unknowing prey with sharp talons?  How about the overwhelming thoughts that plague you in the quiet of loneliness?  The Godless regimes that persecute those of their country whose only crime is trusting in Christ alone for salvation?  This sampling reminds us of the variety of perspectives that people have when it comes to spiritual warfare.

 

I am here to tell you that spiritual warfare does exist.  In Ephesians we are warned of it, but I am afraid that many of us try to act like it really does not affect us.

 

If you are a Christian who is striving to please God, you will be under attack. The attacks come at the times you least want them and feel the most unprepared for them.  However, as you are torn at by the evil one with despairing thoughts, stabs in the back, overwhelming family, health or financial issues, be assured that you are not alone.  As a blood bought child of God, the attacks will come but do not lose heart.  We have the Spirit of God living in us, The Word of God in front of us and the people of God around us.

 

Now more than ever we need to be reminded of that.  As each day passes in your life, know that the devil gets more and more creative in how he can get you to just quit. He is a master manipulator.  He tries to get us to see our friends as enemies, Our God as unneeded and our agenda as the highest and most important goal.

 

Since we have just celebrated our nations freedom let’s not forget the freedom and power that we have in Christ.  The warfare is great but remember what I John 4:4 says, “GREATER is HE who is in YOU than he who is the world.”  Now that is something that you can take immense hope in!!

 

25
Jun
19

Pursuer or Pursued?

When I was a kid, we loved to play games in the neighborhood that included chasing.  Kick the Can, Ghost in the Graveyard and Freeze Tag to name a few.  It was a blast as we would tear around the yards and laugh and scream with delight.  In those games there were benefits to being the one pursued and the pursuer.  Being the pursuer gave you the thrill of “catching or freezing” someone and the adrenaline rush that came with it.  When you were being pursued there was that uncomfortable and yet thrilling feeling in the pit your stomach as you tried to evade the ones chasing you.

As an adult I have found that life has changed.  You don’t ever see a group of adults playing freeze tag in their front yards.  I also find that most adults don’t want to be the pursuer but would rather be the pursued.  This seems to be especially evident in a church striving to be relational.  Now don’t get me wrong – there are many who live a life that is one of pursuing.  They make calls, visits, texts and notes a priority in their everyday life.  They have “caught the vision.”  Many others, though they love the idea of relational living, struggle with actually being a pursuer and are disappointed when they are not pursued.

As an avid promoter of living life authentically, I can say that it is extremely rewarding to live a life pursuing people but it can also be extremely painful.  The devil does not want people to live in true community and so he attacks those trying to do so by creating havoc.  Expectations are not met, miscommunication happens and assumptions are, well, assumed.  So the beautiful picture of life together becomes disgruntled and disillusioned people who give up on it all together.

For those of you who really want to do life together and are willing to invest in pursuing, let me share a few thoughts of what you can do to help you on your journey.

Grace extravagantly.  You will be disappointed, used, wounded and even broken at times.  However, do not allow that to jade you. Just choose to give grace.  You can’t assume the worst, shut down, pout or withdraw when problems arise. Relationships take work. You might get less sleep in order to meet people at times and places that are not most convenient to you.  Keep at it each time you reach out. If you are hurt, pray, evaluate, and accept responsibility where you should and try again. In the long run you will have impacted more people than you think or remember.

Be Creative.  The way I purse people may not be the way you do.  We have people over often, go grab meals, take walks, drink coffee.  I try hard to meet people where they are and help them take the next step.  Your way of doing that may be different.  It might be with other moms where your children play while you connect. It might be on your commute to work or a late-night face time when everyone else is in bed.  If you desire to do life, then be willing to be creative in how it is done.

Pray hard.  Humanly speaking you will feel drained.  People can drain you dry if you allow them to.  You have to know what boundaries you need and who you can spend time with that will refresh you.  Attacks come from where you least expect them and the ferocity of spiritual warfare can be devastating.  It is imperative that you stay on your knees. God is there and will guide, refresh and encourage you as you pour out your soul to the one who loves you more than anyone ever could.

Stay connected.  The people God has in your life today that will help you on your journey will most likely not be the ones you have in five or ten years.  Don’t be discouraged by this.  Enjoy the ones He has in your life right now that lift your arms when they are too heavy, lighten your load when it won’t move and refresh you with encouragement when you can barely think.  You have to be poured into as you pour out.

I hope these reminders will help you. I encourage those of you who are waiting to be pursued to give grace and start to take up the mantle of pursuer yourself.  Although it can be difficult at times, I will die continuing to try to live authentically and pursuing anyone who God puts in my path.  This life is not about results but obedience and the Bible is full to overflowing with examples of this.   Be encouraged and keep pursuing.

 

03
Jun
19

Pain

Pain is not a stranger to any of us who make up mankind

It digs and it tears, and it obsesses the mind

Sometimes it is inflicted with no intent to hurt at all

Other times it is vicious, spiteful and actively trying to make you fall

Fall into the vast and seemingly bottomless pit of despair

Its goal is often not to kill but instead to heartlessly scare

Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain are very real

All are intended to do one thing and that is to steal

Steal our joy for living a life full of laughter, friendship and love

Pain laughs a devious laugh as it looks down at us from above

Doing its best to spread its torturous tentacles to every nation in the world

Slavery, Abuse, Misunderstanding, and Unmet Expectations are all hurled

Mankind seeks to snatch up each one of them eagerly

Pain loves to see man unleash them on anyone they see

So is there any hope, any chance that we can be free from pain’s grip

Never fully while sin reigns on earth but it can be reduced from a flood to a drip

If you are His child, then He provides us all of the resources that we need

His Word which provides us the food that our soul He will feed

His Spirit which enters us when we accept His free gift as our own

He is there in our body until this earthly shell dies and this world we have blown

His church body which although flawed will come as God sees us in pain

These saints are sometimes few but are always refreshing like rain

So, take heart weary soul when the pain feels too great to bear

You can be confident that He will be there with all His love and care

And know that one day pain will be completely defeated along with its king

Then we can all join together and lift our voices and…. boy will we sing!!!

 

25
May
19

Vacation Perspectives from a weary traveler

Just a few short days ago I returned from a week away with my family. In fact, now that I have all grown children this was the first vacation in almost ten years that we were all together. Some things never change but they are different. For instance, I used to have to drag my kids kicking and screaming to get them to lay down and take a nap especially on vacation. Now they want to take naps! Go figure. Other things are gone. The dependence on dad to swim with them or play a game. Some things are special in other ways. The chance to sit around as a family and dig into the Word and have great discussion would have never happened when they were in preschool😊. All of this to say that life has many changes and the way we do vacation is one of those.

 

Now that I am back to work and have had a few days to digest all that took place I have a few insights that might help some of you as you prepare to take this year’s trip with your family. I am choosing to break it onto my do and don’t list.

Do:

Make sure you MAKE time for the Word. When our family gets together there are always a lot of factors in play. This year I asked my kids to read I Peter and told them I wanted to discuss it while we were away. We did not do it every night, but we did dig in throughout the week. I loved seeing my kids ask questions, argue a little and learn. There are many times I did not make the Word a part of our vacation and I see now that many opportunities for me personally and our family were missed.

Make sure you are purposeful about REAL conversation. Laughing, teasing and even some sarcasm come in lavish amounts in the Buckley world. It has never been easy to get us focused but having a few questions to get discussion started and to get a window in my children’s’ world was powerful. I had to guard against excessive input and bit my tongue a few times but as a result I think I heard more than I would have.

Breathe deep. I am a worrier. I wont even go into how ridiculous some of my fears are, but over this vacation I strove hard to purposefully just enjoy the moments we had and there were many. Enjoy looking around the dinner table and just thanking God, taking in the sights and sounds of vacation and thanking God and relishing in the slower pace for the week and thanking God. It does not come naturally to me, but it did make our time away much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Don’t:

Feel like you have to overdo. You can spend way too much money, eat way too much food and have way too many expectations. All of these in modest amounts are wonderful but overdoing in any of them only makes you feel sick. It is very easy to want to go hog wild. I could share many ways we strove to do this, but sitting here looking back I am so glad that we choose to enjoy in small amounts what we did.

Live for vacation but rather from vacation. In the years past I would push, pull, scream and stress just trying to hold on until we could finally get away. The result was that when vacation finally came it took me way too long to wind down. I had a desire to squeeze every little morsel out of our time away and then almost went into a funk when we had to go home. In the back of my mind as we headed back to “reality” I was already counting the days until the next vacation. God wants us to be refreshed, but living a life of only looking for ways to get to the destination stops me from enjoying the journey. Life is not a sprint but a marathon. Slow down, look around and relish the times away but also the “normal” days ahead.

Work. This is the first vacation that I did not get on my computer once, did not call the office once and I left my work on my desk. I have spoiled way too many vacations for my family feeling I am indispensable at church and the message that I sent to my family is “you are dispensable.” Way too many vacations I have spent sneaking away to work and not just enjoying the people and times that I had while I was away. Be present with those whose presence you are in.

 

I will admit that after I dropped my sons and my daughter-in-law off at the airport, I shed a few tears. I loooove having our family together but I quickly wiped them away and just started thanking God for the time we had and praying that God would keep us all focused on Him until we have time together again😊.

 

 

20
Mar
19

Is your church healthy?

I have some unique insights on this topic. I have been a pastor for over 30 years (yes, I am old). I have the privilege of mentoring and connecting with several pastors from multiple church backgrounds on a pretty regular basis. I myself have wrestled with this topic as I have the privilege of being the Lead Elder at a church. Now the simple answer to this topic is to say, “Just be Biblical” but I think we need a little more defining than that, especially in a world where loose interpretation can lead to misunderstanding. So here are my thoughts for you to consider, whether you attend or lead a church.

Is the church really Solo Scripture? The foundation of any healthy church is a full embracing of the Bible. As a pastor I once served under said, “We need to be as narrow and as broad as the Scriptures.” Don’t add to the Scripture when it seems convenient and don’t subtract when it seems hard to obey it. A healthy church has to be solidly planted on the Word!!

Is the leadership Spiritually mature? There have been many good men who are not Godly who have been asked to serve and there have been many Godly but not spiritually mature men who have been asked to serve. If a church is to remain healthy, the Biblical requirements for leadership must be held firm. If you are in a role of spiritual leadership and you know you are not a man of God, you need to step down. If you have refused to step into a role of leadership because you are scared or feel inadequate but there are Godly leaders urging you to step up, then step up. The key is to be honest with yourself. Good spiritual leaders are not perfect, but they are mature. Spiritual leaders are humble and teachable. Spiritual leaders are men of the Word. It is a privilege to serve a church body but always keep in mind you will answer to God for how you care for His flock.

Is the Leadership transparent? If the men who lead your church are mature, then they should also be transparent, but the fear of man can get the best of us. Just ask the apostle Peter. Part of transparency is the ability to admit faults and wrong doing. The church family will never know everything that goes on in the church, and they don’t need to, but anything that ethically they should be aware of they should know. Don’t allow fear to stop you from leading the way to open and honest conversations. There will be times they are uncomfortable, but they should still take place. If you are a part of a church that you suspect is not being transparent then don’t just leave. You need to go and Biblically confront the leadership. Leaving without saying anything is an unloving act. Be the person God has called you to be and know that you will not live a transparent life at another church if you are not honest at the current one.

Is your church Kingdom minded? God did not set up little fiefdoms. You are not in competition with the evangelical church down the road. My primary calling is to shepherd the flock He has put me at but in the course of doing that I need to stay Kingdom minded. Our goal should not be to advance our agenda but to obey God’s commands. Let’s create more partnerships among His Kingdom people. Let’s support and pray for other churches. When we get to heaven it is going to be an amazing celebration of His body combined so why not start now?

Is your church challenging you to share the Gospel and make disciples? I believe the foundational calling of the church is to equip the saints to do the work of ministry and I believe our primary calling is to go out and share the gospel and make disciples. If you have a great Sunday morning but no one is pursuing those two mandatory steps, then you do not have a healthy church.

I am sure I have missed many, but these are areas I run across over and over again. Evaluate this list and ask yourself if you lead or are a member of a healthy church (and yes you should all be members). If you are not leading one, then make steps to get there. If you are a member of a church that is not healthy, pray and then go talk to your leaders. In the end let’s all strive to be healthy in our own personal lives and as we live life together in the local body He has called us to be a part of.

 

 




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 79 other followers

Archives