For those in church this morning, I read a story by Josh Harris titled “The Room” It’s a powerful story that I have heard many times before. It made the rounds on the internet 5 or 10 years ago. It seemed that most everyone I talked to this morning had not heard it. It’s powerful because we can all relate to it. If you want to read it again or find out the details about the story click here.
Archives For Church Related
Another busy weekend. I’ve noticed that I don’t blog much on the weeks I preach in church. Balancing work during the week, family time, and sermon prep time takes its toll. Here lately, blogging has gotten the short end of the stick. My heart really goes out to men who are called to be bi-vocational pastors. I know it’s not easy. In the near future I am going to have to make some changes in order to not short change my family time.
Part of my problem is that I can’t do things halfway. When I am preaching, I can’t just get up and just say whatever comes to mind and goof off. I want to be prepared, I want to truly have a message that God has put on my heart. That takes time, time spent in preparation, prayer, and study. Quite honestly, on Sunday afternoons I am wiped out. I don’t understand why, but I am more tired after preaching than anything else I do, both physically and mentally. But there is something about preaching and teaching that makes you fully alive.
This weekend, I knew I had a fairly long message, but it was one that I really felt God had burdened me with. I know usually on Easter you talk about the resurrection, but I kept coming back to the cross and specifically to the forgiveness that Christ offers. This morning the music was good, the sharing was good, the message was long and heavy, but I did feel God moving in our mist. Several people made decisions for Christ this morning, and that makes it all worth it. This afternoon I was able to take a nap, play with the kids in the yard, go eat a big meal at my parents house, and just unwind. A great Easter Sunday, celebrating that Jesus is alive. God is good.
One more thing, Check back here in a few weeks for a big announcement for Cornerstone!
This list is from Leadership Network Learnings. Todd Rhoades shares ten characteristics of churches who “get it” Check out the link if you want to hear his explanation of each point. He took these points from his personal observations of churches that are really making a “kingdom” impact. I think this list fits in pretty good with most of the new emerging missional churches that I have seen.
- Each church has a pastor with a vision.
- Each church hires almost exclusively from within.
- Speaking of staff, the staff of these churches ‘get it’ too.
- A larger percentage of their staff (or staff wives) are pregnant.
- These churches and pastors don’t have a clue what they’re doing.
- Since they don’t have it all figured out, these pastors all shared with me their desire to connect with other leaders who can help mentor them.
- These churches are not shy about sharing resources.
- Most all of these pastors are bloggers.
- These churches are not afraid to make tough calls.
- Numbers are important to them.
I read these over at History in the Making. These just don’t apply to a church plant, they apply to any church. I think we can all relate to this list. Here it is.
- Talk about how much you love your church because it’s so small and personable.
- If your church doesn’t have a particular ministry, start attending it at another church, rather than starting one where you are.
- Don’t forgive anyone for hurting you or offending you.
- Instead of telling the pastor about your frustrations, hold out in silence as long as you can, getting angrier and angrier until you can finally leave in one, unforseen blaze of flaming glory.
- Go to church for what you get out of it.
- Don’t invite anyone.
- Forget faith ~ that’s the pastor’s job. Sit back and wait to see what happens, rather than becoming personally invested.
- Use “prayer” as a conversational piece rather than a spiritual discipline (as in: “I’ll be praying for you,” or “Let me pray about that.”)
- Do frequent “polling” in hallway conversations to see if other people have the same concerns about the church as you.
- Meditate on how wonderful the church would be if it weren’t for the pastor.
I saw a neat link from Church Relevance last week about a website with free demographic info for your community. This site is different from most because it breaks down the 5 most prominent lifestyles and then describes them with unique labels. I did a quick lookup on Galax and here is what I found.
From PrizmNE: Back Country Folks, Golden Ponds, Heartlanders, Simple Pleasures, and Young & Rustic
From ConneXions: Active Urban Singles, Cautious Pre-Retirees, Premium Payers, Simply Mature, and Switchers & Shakers
From P$YCLE NE: Bottom-Line Blues, Country Cottages, Middle Ages, Old Homesteaders, and Senior City Blues
So, this is pretty interesting. On their site, you can find out how they describe each group. For our church, this is helpful information in understanding our community and culture. I don’t think I fit into any of the categories. I guess that shows how weird I really am!
Claritas offers a free resource called “You Are Where You Live” that enables you to look up the 5 most prominent lifestyles within a specific zip code using any one of the following three sets of segmentation research:
- PRIZM NE: 66 distinct segmentations (lifestyles) based on demographic and consumer behavior data
- P$YCLE NE: 58 distinct segmentations based on demographic factors that have the greatest effect on financial behavior (e.g., income, age, presence of children, home ownership, etc.)
- ConneXions: 59 distinct segmentations based on household consumption of communications products and services
It is a great resource for helping your church better understand the community it is reaching.
Ed Stetzer has a great post over at the Resurgence about sharing your faith. He talks about the different approaches and why we need to return to the model of Jesus for sharing. In our area, many churches feel that confrontational door to door evangelism is the only way to share your faith. I believe that sharing your faith is best done through relationships. I like Stetzer’s comment that the church is like a bear fed by tourists. The truth hurts sometimes. Let’s teach our teens and adults to be bold about sharing their faith to the people that God brings into their path. Check out the following quote
To share Christ, we have to go beyond formulas that fit on napkins. The Gospel is not a doodle. Isn’t God’s story of redemption and reconciliation for His creation bigger than what can fit on a napkin? People are searching—but they are searching for something more than fire insurance or “five steps to financial freedom.”
For 30 years we’ve taught people to “bring your friends to church” and have considered that evangelism. Well, there are not as many boomer seekers out there as there were back in those days. We must to share Christ, and that will be mostly done through relationships (sounds like Jesus, right?).
Today, the church is like a bear fed by tourists. It’s lost its natural ability. We need to share Christ in meaningful ways without just inviting people to a congregational event. … let’s get that back by starting where people are, listening to them, building a relationship, telling them about Jesus, sharing with them the story of redemption, and bringing them to a bloody cross and an empty tomb.
We got back late last night from the Unleash Conference. It was absolutely amazing. What I love about Perry’s preaching is that he is not afraid of speaking truth, even if it steps on your toes. I felt like he was speaking directly to me in both of the main sessions. We must continue to lift up the name of Jesus. If we preach Jesus, then people will be changed!
Check out outlines of Session 1 and Session 2 from Tony Morgan. I also got to talk with Tony at the conference. He’s a great guy who has really inspired me as to what a Christian blog should be. The comments are really flying in on Tony’s blog about the main sessions. When you don’t hold back, not everyone will like it. I loved what Perry had to say and I appreciate his courage to say it.
The Breakout Q&A sessions were good as well. I’m sure the NewSpring staff was tired of being asked, “how do you get volunteers?” and “how do you get the money?”, but they kept on communicating the importance of vision. People don’t give of their time or their money to a need, they give to a vision. My only problem is that I wanted to be at all of the breakouts. I think they will put the transcripts of the breakouts and the messages on their website soon. I hope so, to see what I missed in the other breakouts. When they do get them up, I will definitely link to them. I attended the breakouts on “The Volunteer Experience” and “The Creative Process”. Jenni attended “Creating Excellent Experiences for Kids” and “Creating Community in Church”. We learned a lot that is transferable to where we are as a church.
The music was off the hook! I think my insides are still shaking from all the subs on the stage. If you measure the Worship time by the amount of chill bumps, then this one was near the top. I truly felt in the presence of God. The singing really opened my heart to what I needed to hear. I like how they have worked some contemporary songs into their set list. It reminds me of a statement that I heard someone make a long time ago. “What is Christian Music? When did the music get saved?” If the lyrics support the point we are making and are Biblical, and if the song connects with people, then why not use it in church? Makes sense to me.
I also spent some time talking with Pastor Ken Nienke from Fellowship Community Church in Salem, Virginia. I look forward to taking a visit to his church and spending some time with them in the near future. Ken’s a great guy and their church had a very similar start to ours. They are also part of the SBCV, which I think is a great organization. I’ll have to share some of my background with them in a future post. It’s great seeing how Fellowship is growing and reaching their community. I have met and been inspired by their youth pastor James Tippins several times in the past. Check out his blog if you haven’t already.
And finally, Perry made the comment that the sermon begins in the parking lot. From the time we registered on Wed. night to the time we left Thursday afternoon, we were constantly engaged by NewSpring’s incredible volunteer staff. They were there to help us find where we were going and they were great at letting us know how excited they were to be there. And most of them had to take a vacation day from work to help with the conference. They definitely have set the bar high, and it gives me something to really think about as we move forward as a church. They definitely made us feel welcome and I want to thank them for the giving of their time to make the conference successful. Well done!
After work today, Jenni and I are heading down to the Unleash conference at NewSpring Community Church. It’s about a 4 hour drive for us. We can’t wait. I really want to see how they are making a difference in their community. It’s exciting to see a church that is growing and is committed to reaching and growing people in Christ. I look forward to hearing from Perry Noble and crew about what they have learned. I’ll post some of the highlights when I get back.