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The guys at NewSpring have posted videos of the Unleash main sessions online. It was an awesome experience being there, and they did a great job of capturing the worship and preaching on video. I’m glad they included the band in the video, it gives a glimpse of what worship can be like for a new generation.

Some of the highlights from my notes from the main two sessions follow. These are some of the main points that I took home. NewSpring is definitely a strong staff-led church. I have struggled a little reconciling some of his second session with our church’s emphasis on plurality of elders. I definitely see the need for a group of pastors/elders/leaders to share the load, but the importance of a primary leader cannot be dismissed. There is definitely a lot of good stuff in here for leadership, so I strongly encourage you to listen to these when you have some spare time.

Session 1: Go For It!

  • Church is an incredibly confusing place if you don’t know the rules
  • Out of Chicken, Out of Jesus illustration – powerful

The Church needs 4 things
1. Creative environments

  • It took the church 2000 years to make the gospel message boring
  • the sermon begins in the parking lot – this was definitely the case with their volunteers who did an incredible job at the conference
  • it is better to entertain than to bore people

2. We need to look beyond ourselves

  • it’s not the great suggestion, it’s the great commission
  • when people need grace the most, we say literally “to hell with you” – this is so true of churches today
  • when we say we are going deep, it usually means we are confusing the heck out of people so they feel good about themselves and don’t change
  • we need to teach Christians to feed themselves
  • everybody can know everybody at church, or everybody can know Jesus. Which way do you want to structure your church

3. We need to pay attention

  • we need to plan ahead
  • don’t be afraid

4. We need to focus on what matters

  • the church needs to focus on peoples relationship with Jesus, not their problems
  • preach and lift up the name of Jesus and let him change people
  • people need to See Jesus

Session 2: The Leadership Challenge

  • It is a common myth that church is all about the style – it’s not, it is about Leadership
  • Churches don’t grow by accident

1. Moses listened and obeyed

  • leadership is as easy as listening to God
  • throughout exodus … and the Lord says to Moses …
  • importance of consistently spending time with God
  • God never gave vision to a committee
  • churches need to trust and ensure that their pastor is hearing from God

2. Moses did not compromise the vision

  • Hide it under a bushel “HELL NO” – you just have to listen to the story to get it
  • powerful people will always try to alter and change your vision
  • we can’t please everyone, so it is better to offend people instead of offending God
  • Get a vision from God and make it happen
  • just like the body, it’s good to have a back door in the church – funny
  • the Pastor “owns” the vision
  • you will be tested by money, you can either be a prostitute or a prophet

3. Moses didn’t try to do it all

  • the problem is that we think we are needed
  • don’t date the church
  • staff is there for the pastor
  • surround yourself with Godly people
  • the best people to hire are in your church
  • learn how to rest
  • only 5% of pastors retire! the rest leave early. 70% of pastors are depressed

4. Moses was willing to attempt the impossible

  • our problem is that we want a vision that is safe
  • God does not call us to safe
  • Don’t have excuses, not size, not facilities, not money

Open Source Church

April 8, 2007 — 1 Comment

The current trend in software development is open source. Basically, the programmers share the source code for the software programs to allow anybody with an interest to make it better. Linux is based on open source, as well as a number of new shareware type programs. Here is my desire. I want to see churches move toward open source creative resources. Creating graphics, motion backgrounds, intro movies, and web designs takes a tremendous amount of time. It requires time and resources that almost all smaller churches cannot afford. Just the software programs needed to create the content are beyond the budget of most churches.

If churches could band together and share these resources for free or for a low cost, it would be great! We’re all on the same team here, so let’s be effective. I agree with Rick Warren who has said that “God has not called us to be original, He has called us to be effective.”

My current message series is titled He Came, He Died, He Conquered. I stole (borrowed) the title from Mark Batterson. I like taking outlines and ideas from other pastors and then making them my own. At Unleash, Perry Noble talked about the importance of making something better when you build upon it. My hope and desire is that these resources become a springboard for God to reveal a new and exciting truth that connects to our culture and our world, right here in Galax. As ministers, we must stay in God’s Word so that we can teach not based on someone else’s opinion, but based on God’s truth. I hope more churches move toward sharing their resources.

Here are some sites that are offering great creative content right now
Seacoast Resources Open Resources

The Room

April 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

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.

Weekend Wrap-Up

April 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

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.

  1. Each church has a pastor with a vision.
  2. Each church hires almost exclusively from within.
  3. Speaking of staff, the staff of these churches ‘get it’ too.
  4. A larger percentage of their staff (or staff wives) are pregnant.
  5. These churches and pastors don’t have a clue what they’re doing.
  6. 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.
  7. These churches are not shy about sharing resources.
  8. Most all of these pastors are bloggers.
  9. These churches are not afraid to make tough calls.
  10. 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.

  1. Talk about how much you love your church because it’s so small and personable.
  2. If your church doesn’t have a particular ministry, start attending it at another church, rather than starting one where you are.
  3. Don’t forgive anyone for hurting you or offending you.
  4. 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.
  5. Go to church for what you get out of it.
  6. Don’t invite anyone.
  7. Forget faith ~ that’s the pastor’s job. Sit back and wait to see what happens, rather than becoming personally invested.
  8. 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.”)
  9. Do frequent “polling” in hallway conversations to see if other people have the same concerns about the church as you.
  10. 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:
  1. PRIZM NE: 66 distinct segmentations (lifestyles) based on demographic and consumer behavior data
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

How to Share Your Faith

March 27, 2007 — 1 Comment

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.

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