Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The church cannot only talk about faith and following Christ but must give people real opportunities to live out their faith.
We are going back in late August, if you are interested in serving shoot me an email.
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Here were some highlights from last week:
- My brother was down house and job hunting. He is moving here in the middle of June from Massachusetts and we have him all lined up for a job and he has a house to rent.
- In between looking for houses to rent we got to play three rounds of golf at Four Winds or as some people call it Four "Weeds" (Hey you can't beat the price $27 for 18 holes including the cart with no extra charge for the ten thousand may flies buzzing around your head while you are trying to swing your club. Maybe that is why I shot so poorly- nah!).
- My oldest son Robert graduated from preschool (who knew they had such things as preschool graduations!). He will be going to kindergarten next year. My how time flies!
- We had a great outdoor service for Memorial Day though it was hot. God humbled me big time as my notes got blown away (the Spirit blows where the Spirit blows) and I left my mic on during singing for one song. I think Steve Kropp intentionally let the church sing when he backed off the mic to just hear me sing and embarrass me:). We had a great cook out right after church.
- I spent some time at the Outlaws (my wives parents) for more cookouts, time with family, four wheeler rides and boating on the river.
- It is good to be back!
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
When we move on from the politics of Jerry Falwell what we see if a man who turned Lynchburg upside down. The media in its rush to sensationalize does not tell us about homes built, community services offered, and money given for all the projects of Thomas Road Church and Liberty University they instead indicate that Falwell's only legacy was the Moral Majority.
One legacy that I have not seen spoken about is Falwell's legacy as it pertains to church planting. My understanding is that Falwell was a "turn around" pastor and not a church planter per se. However, the man obviously had a heart for church planting. In the last few months I have noticed that among the landscape of church planters across the nation there are many who have had some connection to Liberty. These are some of the most effective, innovative and articulate church planters out there. And so, part of Falwell's legacy will live on through these guys and persons will continue to be touched by the good news of Jesus because of Jerry Falwell and his passion to see lost people connected to Christ. That is the kind of passion the church needs no matter what someone's politics are!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
All this is nothing new under the sun though. As I have been reading through John Wesley's Journal it has been really interesting to see how people took shots at him all the time as he sought to be an innovator and bring Christ to the disenfranchised. He writes about going to a church and preaching and inevitably after every church he visits he writes, "And I was forbidden to go and preach there again."
Of course the one who took the most shots for challenging the religious establishment of his day was Jesus. It makes sense then as one follows Christ that they too will be shot at. That is what Jesus meant when he said "take up your cross." Following is not always about the benefits but also the hardships. Thankfully, his grace is sufficient. And, in the end he wins and so do we. Might those presenting Christ in fresh ways that are Christ centered and biblical for the sake of those far from God be "forbidden to go and preach there" all the more if it offends the 99 already in the fold.
We went old school with this message taking on an expository format as we asked and "What does God intend mothers, wives and women to be?" That is the question that is addressed in Proverbs 31:10-31. In this message we glean principles and characteristics that describe the mother, wife and woman God intends. It is in being a reflection of the woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 that women live out God's intention and more importantly follow Christ.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
No matter the theological bent of churches in this epoch they were known for what they were against.
Can we dream a new kind of church?
A church that is better known for what it is for than what it is against (not dismissing sin or the call to holiness but recognizing our world needs to know the Christ of hope and not condemnation!).
Such a church would be for...
- People finding life in this world and in the world to come.
- Persons discovering their purpose and finding meaning in their life.
- For persons to join together in community to transform the world around them.
- People being freed from addiction, past pain, bad relationships and other maladies.
- Creating environments that creatively present the timeless truth of Christ.
- Allowing people to come and explore and follow Christ without having it all together (or pretending like they do).
Thursday, May 10, 2007
The rub with all this is that we must be careful in offering our "new kind of church" or in helping people "reimagine church" or as we "re-present church" or "in changing the way people think about church" that we are always keeping Christ the focus (I am not suggesting anybody is not here just thinking out loud as much for myself as anybody else!). What we are trying to reveal to folks is the power the living Christ can make in their lives both today and for eternity. We have to watch out for substituting a model for accomplishing that goal for the goal (Jesus) itself. Fresh expressions of Christianity in the context of a worshipping community are tools to connect people to Jesus. We need not seek to convert anybody to a style of doing church as a substitute for following the Master.
In all our creativity and innovation for Jesus we must remember that it's him that should always be front and center. It is Christ and the cross that should be the only stumbling block.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
- Family/ small membership to Large membership/ small groups
- Program/ large events to Developing personal relationships
- Clergy centered leadership to Partnership: clergy and laity
- Clergy as chaplain to Lay pastoral care providers
- Clergy as managers to Clergy as visionary leaders
- Staff who do programs to Staff who train lay leaders
- Low expectations to Churches of high commitment
- Committee members to Committed servants
- Status quo to Strategic planning
- One worship service to Multiple services that are creative
- Quantity-mediocrity to Excellence/ niche ministries
- Mono-sensory worship to Multi-sensory- Media worship
- One day a week church to Seven day a week church
You can listen to it here.
The Spiritual Battle of Church Planting
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
While it is always vitally important to protect the vision at all costs by spending resources on things that are in line with the vision, by putting energy into ministry that is in line with the vision and by looking at all things the church does and does not do through the lens of vision, all this is especially important early on even before public worship.
In those early days you just want bodies for your launch team. Sometime though when someone wants to be a part of the work God has called you to lead and given you a vision for you have to say a holy "no". Again, this must be done gently: "I appreciate you interest in what God is calling us to do but as we talk I think this might not be the place for you." People will come with their own agendas, some even well meaning, but they will not be the agenda God would have for the church he has called you to plant. And there will be just plain mean, power hungry people who comes are wolves in sheep clothing.
Central to protecting the vision is prayer for wisdom, discernment and clear eyes.
In the end, you will be glad you were mean about the vision.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Part of being human means that we will all have regrets. The question is what kind of regrets will we have?
As for me I want the kind of regrets that are satisfying where I have taken a risk and fallen flat on my face but know that I have tried. I don't ever want to regret inaction and the "could have beens".
This is what I have learned from 32 years if living and thousands of education dollars later :)
Friday, May 04, 2007
Jesus made it clear that he came to seek and save the lost. He illustrated this by telling stories about a losing one sheep and leaving the other 99 to go and find it. He told a story about a diligent search for a lost coin and a story about a son who brazenly requested his inheritance even before his father died, squandered it and ultimately came to his senses and returned. It was said of him that he was once lost but now found.
Recently I have been hearing objections to this term loss to refer to people. I think these objections are raised because of a desire to move away from any position of arrogance among Christ followers. This thinking says that if we say someone without Christ is lost then we are classifying them, objectifying them, and engaging in spiritual hubris.
As in most things we do well to find the truth in such objections. I think we can say along with the witness of scripture and Jesus that those who have not yielded their life to Jesus Christ are lost like all of us have been and are when we stray from faith and sin. We need to avoid knee jerk reactions that bow to the gods of inclusivity and political correctness without much theological reflection.
However, we need to be sure not to set ourselves up as above or somehow superior because we have bowed the knee to Christ. Those who have been "found" are no more valuable than lost people. (There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous people. Jesus came not for the well but for the sick). Christ is not a commodity that we have and can "give" to others like the latest trading card.
We do well to be wise as serpents yet as gentle as doves in this matter. We probably want to be careful of our speech around lost people- for while they are indeed lost without Christ- what they might hear is arrogance and condescension and shut down and we lose the opportunity to be the light of Christ.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Where are all the Arminians though? Is there room for a distinctive Wesleyan strain of church planting. Is anybody out there applying Wesleyan thought to church planting? I have not seen anyone?
What can a Wesleyan theology contribute to church planting reflections and practice? We might start with Wesley's way of salvation (the ordo saludo) which gives us a refreshing picture of the whole breadth of God's grace and moves us from a theology that focuses almost exclusively on justification.
Prevenient Grace- the grace that comes before a person even believes. Church Planting- God is already working on people and is present in a community before anybody begins to plant a church there.
Justifying Grace- the grace that is imputed to us whereby
Sanctifying Grace- the grace that sustains us and grows into the image of Christ. Church Planting- though broken, through the power of Christ's life, death and resurrection persons can be restored. This is the way of discipleship as persons move toward wholeness (perfection).
We certainly need more theological reflection on Wesleyan distinctives when it comes to church planting.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
My inclination when faced with a challenge is to gain wisdom from those that have blazed the path before me. Thankfully, there was a lot of people with a lot to say about this thing called church planting. I set to reading guys like Aubrey Malphurs, Ed Stetzer, Ralph Moore, Peter Wagner as well as leadership gurus like Maxwell, Hybels, Andy Stanley, Bob Russell and more. Man, they had good stuff to say.
Yet, by the grace of God, what I learned is there comes a time when through prayer and discernment you have to go the way God has for you. As many good things and great principles you can glean from these pioneers we cannot defeat the enemy with Saul's armor.
My coach, Jim Griffith, who says to read none of that stuff by the way, says it best: "No one knows your community like you." We do not have the same community as any of these great men and women of God.
In the end, I think it is valuable to do this reading. Leaders are readers! Yet, in order to not get schizophrenic about it- you have to spend time figuring out where and what the church planter extraordinaire- Jesus Christ- wants the church you are coming along side him to start to look like. There's no short circuiting that process.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
In your Old Testament is a small book in the back called Malachi. Here is what it says in Malachi 3:10.
God says- test me. He says bring the whole tithe to me and see if I will not bless you.
In the worship program on Sunday was a sheet for the Malachi Challenege. Here is the specific challenge in light of God's promises.
- If you are not already doing so to tithe for the next three months- every Sunday, even making it up the next week if you are gone for a week.
- New Season Church’s promise to you is that if you do not receive God’s promise of blessing in Malachi 3:10 we will refund your money, every penny, no questions asked.
You may need to pray about that commitment. If and when you are ready to take that challenge just fill out that Malachi Challenge sheet and put it in the offering basket. You start your three month period when you choose. You keep track. You recognize that God’s promise might not necessarily be financial blessings but in other ways as well and you test God. The church can offer such a challenge because of the promise of God’s word. What is God’s call on your heart?
To access the Malachi Challenge form online go here.
Does Your Giving Stop at Nothing?
How we handle the money and possessions God gives to us is a spiritual issue. Jesus had a lot to say about money and possessions and how those who would follow him used those things. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when when dealing with money and possessions. God owns it all and just lets us use it for a while. When it comes to using money and possessions God calls us to do so in faith, not by reason giving to God first and trusting God will provide what we need. In the end, how we use our money and possessions is as much an issue in our journey with Jesus as how much we pray, study our Bible, treat other people and all the other things that affect our walk with Christ.
For people who are followers of Jesus Christ and have made him Lord (CEO, Director, Supervisor) of their lives then faith in Jesus Christ touches every aspect of the follower's life including how they handle their finances. For those who are not yet followers this series allows them to explore what the Bible, faith and the Jesus journey offer for managing finances. We will see how God who owns all things provides guidance and direction through scripture when it comes to managing what he has given to us.