[Full disclosure: Until the Holidays, it has been years since having sworn never to step into a church again. However, as Life's Rich Pageant has a way of throwing curves, over the Holidays, I found myself doing the unthinkable and stepped into church for the first time in a long, long time. Having family members who have attended this church for years, I had only heard about it. However, seeing is believing (so to speak). Once inside The Life Christian Church (more on the church in a moment), I found a warm, welcoming and enjoyable environment and were it not for that visit (and one or two since), you would not have the chance to know about this book.]
Over the next several paragraphs, I'd like to share a little about TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life?, it's author, Pastor Terry Smith, his church, and, as importantly, its missions.
The Book — First and foremost, Pastor Terry's recently-published book is not a "self-help" book, it is more a self-fulfillment book. TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life? is a book about Life for oneself, as well as for others.
Yes, it is Christ-centered. However, even the more secular among us will appreciate it.
"I couldn’t agree less with the idea that most of our problems result from wanting too much. I think we should want more. Not more stuff, but more life," says Pastor Smith. "I believe a more fulfilling life—a life in all its fullness—is the future that we are created to have. I also believe we have the ability to tap into this potential and create that more and better life for ourselves and others."
What is unique about Smith's book is that it is also a book about leadership that speaks equally to the heart of the day laborer, the pro-football player (see below) as well as the highest executive.
There is the story of Emmanuel Anim-Sackey, a church member and native of Ghana who, knowing the prosperity he enjoys here in the U.S., turned his pilgrimages to his home country (where he would take whatever he could carry home to distribute among the impoverished) into a full-fledged community mission. He Acted.
Then, there are the anecdotal stories of the more "famous people"—from Abraham Lincoln to Carly Fiorina.
"Great leaders multiply inspiration and influence by turning their followers into leaders," writes Smith.
"If we are to live the best possible life, then we must be obligated to more than just ourselves. We must be obligated to the countless people we have direct or indirect, immediate or future influence over. Leadership is about accepting responsibility for others. A moral future is an inclusive one."
"I believe everyone is a leader in some capacity....While most people may not be born with natural leadership skills, it is a skill that can be learned and developed. It can be studied."
Even though retired-GE CEO Jack Welch tweeted positively about TEN last week, during this time of political and class warfare, it is the story of Smith's church that is truly inspiring.
The Church — Upon visiting The Life Christian Church, you would think you were entering a non-descript storefront that is located along a fairly busy intersection in West Orange, New Jersey. As the crow flies, West Orange is 12 miles outside of New York City and a stone's throw from Newark.
TLCC is actually located in a renovated bowling alley and, although a new church is under construction several miles away (they've outgrown the bowling alley), its current location seems to be what, in part, makes TLCC "successful." It is both humble, as well as high tech, and the music..the music is unbelievably well done.
TLCC's congregation is truly the epitome of a melting pot—where, if ever there were a vision of racial and cultural harmony in America, it would be found inside this church located in its West Orange location. As one who is rather jaundiced, if ever there were a little church that could, this one does...and then some.
There are some 50 nationalities represented by the members of the church and the income levels range from wealthy CEOs and pro-football players (several NY Giants attend) to the homeless.
As only a visitor, it seems it is the "harmony" of the pastor, his vision, the congregation and its humble location that allows it to do what is does outside of West Orange, New Jersey.
The Missions — Through its Life Teams, TLCC spreads out around the world (and the U.S.), sending groups of its youth (and adults) to help build schools, orphanages, as well as to rebuild after disasters [see pics below]. The church has sent teams to Mississippi and Haiti (to help rebuild after hurricanes), as well as to Mexico, Trinadad, Honduras and, of course, Ghana.
This year, TLCC is returning to Ghana, which brings us back to TEN: How Would You Rate Your Life?
At 10 am [EST], for every book bought through Amazon, $1 will go directly to TLCC's mission trip. So, should you wish to help enrich your own life, as well as others, 10 am would be a good time to buy it by going here.
Thanks, Pastor Smith, for letting us visit your church over the Holidays. It was truly a welcome respite in an otherwise tumultuous time.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776