Archives For Church Related

Missional Living

February 15, 2007 — 1 Comment

Tonight I was doing some research for a message on “missional” living. I ran across some great quotes by Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, and Erwin McManus. The more I have read about Missional Theology, the more I am drawn to it. I really enjoyed Ed Stetzers book, Breaking the Missional Code. In it, he challenges churches to be Biblically faithful, culturally relevant, and counter culture. Here are some of the better quotes.

Churches fight over going from organ to guitars; then from guitars to keyboards; then from keyboards back to organs because retro is back in… in the end, it is never about the music style, but about whether or not the church is focused on entertaining and placating Christians or reaching its culture.
-Erwin McManus (from here)

Every institution that has as its primary focus the study of the Bible eventually drifts toward liberalism. The more you turn the Bible into an educational tool, and the less you follow it as a manual of radical discipleship that leads you to love and serve people, the more you go toward religiosity and away from Jesus
-Erwin McManus (from here)

Before anything else, the church and its ministry must be biblically faithful. We need to remember that our purpose is to apply that creativity in biblically and culturally relevant ways. The reason we engage culture is not to be cool, trendy, contemporary, or cutting edge—words that have become idols to us—but so that those who live in culture can hear the message of Jesus. That message is more than just “come to Christ,” it involves how we live and structure our lives, and it matters deeply. Our churches should share the gospel message wherever they are and whatever their cultural context. They should be known as people who love God’s Word and seek to live differently because of it.
-Ed Stetzer

Churches that are biblically faithful to God’s mission will work to relate to people in culture. We who are Christians should look similar to, but not be identical to, our culture. If we don’t, people will assume that being a Christian simply means being different—dressing differently, listening to different music styles, and voting the same way. They’ll confuse Christianity with a change of clothes, music, and political party registration. That means that Christians should use language, dress, and live life in the “house” of culture, while living differently because they are in the family of God.
-Ed Stetzer

Will your church have a mission of community, or be a community of mission?
-Mark Driscoll

Design With Vision

February 12, 2007 — Leave a comment

The theme of SolidWorks World this year was “Design With Vision”. As a designer, I know the importance of vision. It is what separates a follower from an innovator. Companies must have vision to create something new, to create something exciting, and to create something that will solve problems. The CEO of SolidWorks, John McEleney, shared 3 thoughts pertaining to designing with vision.

  1. Great products solve great problems: Engineers solve problems, so it follows naturally that the greater the problem, the greater the solution.
  2. We must find solutions to answer the “absurdly ideal”: He gave several illustrations to make this point clear. One was the company SawStop. They asked the question, “What if we could design a table saw that cuts wood, but not cut your fingers?” This is an absurd question, but it is one that they came up with an ideal solution for. By designing a table saw that can stop the blade quickly by detecting the change in electrical charge when the blade comes into contact with flesh, they created a great product that solves a great problem
  3. Nobody gets it right every time: We must have the courage to fail, and the courage to try again. Most great designs don’t occur on the first try. It takes patience and vision.

As I was listening to his speech, my mind was on much more than just designing products. I was also thinking about how this relates to church as well. Our church is in the process of creating a structure to accomplish the vision God has given us. We are literally “designing” a church. Usually this is done before a church starts, but due to the unusual circumstances from which we started, we are doing this as we go.

We have the greatest solution to the greatest need in the world, the need for Christ. Do we approach it with the same passion as an inventor who is trying to solve one of the world’s great problems? We must ask some absurd questions to think about what we are really trying to accomplish. It takes vision and it takes creativity. And we cannot be afraid to try something new and fail. Yes we should seek guidance from God, and yes we must stay Biblically faithful, but we will make mistakes and we will do things that don’t work. When this happens, we need to recognize our mistakes, and keep trying! That is why this site is called Faith Engineer.

Rock and Rolling

February 3, 2007 — Leave a comment

I have been busy this week getting the details together for the Decemberadio concert. We are trying to pack what would normally take several months of planning into just a couple of weeks. Here is a flyer for the concert. To all the youth, download it and print it out and give to your friends. We will have posters and flyers at church for you to spread around.

They will also playing and speaking at our church during the morning service on the 18th. I have been thinking it would be great to share about reaching out to the culture we live in. Maybe even an interview type setting, where the guys can all share about the opportunities that God is opening up. Since they have the Grammy awards the week before and they are trying to record some new tracks, we really appreciate them coming to our church. We have had several guest musicians over the past few months that were great, but were really geared toward the 40+ crowd. I believe that churches have to constantly reach out to teens and twenty somethings and make reaching their generation a priority. It’s great to be part of a church that is not afraid of doing something that makes a lot of the older people nervous. Especially in our region, having an old-school rock group lead worship is pushing the envelope, in a good way.

I like Lifeway’s new emphasis on research. Hopefully this will help them to provide resources that really connect with churches that are making a difference. Lifeway’s biggest sellers have always been their dated material, the Sunday School curriculums that so many Baptist churches use. However, with so many churches foregoing Sunday School in favor of small groups, they are struggling to catch up. Here are results on a new study they have just completed.

Thanks to Church Communications Pro, BaptistPress News, and for the info.

LifeWay Research and Dr. Thom Rainer were fortunate enough to be able to study 19 of the 22 churches and discovered four common elements.
  1. Pastors Set the Bar: Interviews indicate the churches have taken on the vision, priorities, and values of the senior pastor. Staff and lay leaders find it easy to follow the pastor. There are high levels of trust in these pastors.
  2. Church Atmosphere: These churches are consistently described as “exciting,” “dynamic,” “energetic,” “upbeat,” “friendly,” “welcoming,” “warm,” and “positive.”
  3. Evangelistic Appeal: Pastors indicate they seek to include the gospel in most, if not all, of their sermons. They stress the importance of preaching the gospel and providing opportunities for lost people to respond. More than two-thirds indicate they offer a public invitation at the end of every service. The others invite inquirers to fill out a decision card.
  4. Intentional Outreach: The pastors are focused on reaching people for Christ. Whether it’s through focusing the content of sermons, planning the worship services, or simply the nature of church programming, it is clear that everything is designed with outreach in mind.

Although similar in the above qualities, these churches did use different methods regarding preaching, styles of worship, evangelism training, and small group strategies.

Conferences & Concerts

January 25, 2007 — Leave a comment

I’m planning on attending two conferences in the next few months. First, I am heading down to the Big Easy, New Orleans, for an engineering conference. SolidWorks World 2007 will be Feb 4th-7th. Sitting through 3 days of seminars and training courses with a bunch of engineers sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I like to think that I am an untypical engineer, I usually leave the pocket protector at home. They’ve had the guys from Mythbusters and American Chopper speak at previous events, so I’m hoping they will have another surprise guest this year. Steve Wozniak is the featured speaker, so I’m definitely looking forward to hearing from one of the Mac pioneers. And Jenni is planning on flying down for a couple of days, so we will have a great trip away from home for a few days. I don’t know what to expect with all the reconstruction, but everyone has told me that there is still devastation everywhere.

The other conference has me even more excited. NewSpring Community Church is hosting a one-day church leadership conference in Anderson, SC. Perry Noble and his gang will be sharing what they have learned through the incredible growth of their church. What amazes me about Newspring is that they are in a small town, but they are growing like crazy. If you want to be excited about what God is doing, then check out their story on their website. When we were iced in last Sunday, I was able to watch a couple of their services on video through their website. It was great seeing their worship band open up with service with a cover of Decemberadio Can’t Hide and another service with Daughtry’s It’s Not Over. I was impressed. But what I really resonate with is that Perry is a preacher, he get’s with it and is not ashamed of the Gospel and I love his accent (it sounds normal to me!)

Also, one more thing, be checking back here for some news about Decemberadio,

it looks like we are going to have them lead worship for Cornerstone real soon and maybe even do a concert for the youth. Tentatively, it looks like February 18th, which is coming up soon. I can’t wait. It’s pretty cool having a Grammy-nominated band at church and hanging out with our youth.

A Busy, But Good Weekend

December 18, 2006 — Leave a comment

This past weekend did indeed turn out to be a blur. There were way too many things going on. But it was good. We are always told to slow down and simplify, and I have even preached several messages on that as well. But sometimes, when God gives you opportunities, it is time for action. Looking back on this weekend made me thankful that I had to opportunity to tell others about Christ. Through the sermon on Sunday morning and through a beautiful wedding ceremony, the message of Christ was proclaimed.

I am just blown away sometimes at why God has picked me to tell others about him. I feel unworthy, yet excited at the same time. I feel like I am just holding on for a wild ride following Christ. Jesus never called us to a life on the sidelines, he wants us in the game. Our natural tendencies are to pull back from church activities when we are too busy. Where we spend our time, energy, and money shows where our priorities are. Why is it that when God gives us opportunities to charge, we retreat?

Here’s a quick recap;

Emma’s Ballet: Emma’s ballet production of the Nutcracker was good. AND LONGGGGGGG. But the kids and teens did a great job. Now if the high school would only install padded chairs and air conditioning.

Church Sunday Morning: The computer crashed while playing a video intro for the message. Not good, but the message must go on. I took on the passage of the Magi from Matthew 2:1-12. I really wanted to spend some time talking about the importance of truly looking for what the text actually says, not what we think it says. The message was on the importance of gifts, both giving and receiving. Overall, God really helped me through it. With work being busy this week and the wedding preparation, I just couldn’t put as much time in the message as I wanted, but I think God really took over.

Wedding: The wedding was really fun. You know things are crazy when I had to jump my car off to get to the wedding and then my car wouldn’t start after the wedding. But I truly enjoy being part of such a special time. It was good catching up with some of our former youth. Some were in grad school, one was getting married!, and others were still looking for that special someone. The wedding was short, Christ-centered, and joyful. I’m just glad I didn’t screw up anybody’s name this time. In the first wedding I officiated, during the vows, I called the husband a wife. Good for a laugh, but you really don’t want to mess up too much when they are making videotapes. Unless of course, you are planning on sending it to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

And after all the crazy stuff this weekend, I got back home from the wedding (still in my suit) and discovered … that I now live in a gated community. Our youth group thinks they have a sense of humor. Stay tuned for some pics.

What a Week!

December 14, 2006 — Leave a comment

Sorry for the lack of posting, I’ve been swamped this week.  Here’s what a crazy week looks like for me.  This weekend will be especially brutal.

  • Monday – Work all day, Elders meeting at night
  • Tuesday – Dr. Appointment in the morning, Christmas shopping with Jenni in Winston until the stores closed
  • Wednesday – Work all day, meeting with Virginia Tech Community Design Group at night
  • Thursday – Work all day, Coach Emma’s basketball team after work, then work on sermon and work on wedding
  • Friday – Work like crazy trying to catch up, try to finish up sermon for Sunday
  • Saturday – Rehearsal for wedding I am officiating on Sunday night, try to make it to Emma’s ballet’s production of the Nutcracker by skipping rehearsal dinner.
  • Sunday – Get to church early & setup, then preach in church, then get ready for wedding Sunday night, then go to reception
  • Monday – back to work

This is one of those survival weeks. I’m just glad they don’t happen too often!  But even through this, there have been great times with my wife and kids, and times to slow down and reflect about Christmas.  But it also makes you think about what is truly important and where I need to learn to say no more.  Anyway, that’s why it has been quiet around here.

Great Expectations

December 11, 2006 — Leave a comment

It’s been a busy weekend. I was able to share a message yesterday in church about our expectations of Christmas. This weekend just reaffirmed by huge respect for bi-vocational pastors. Juggling the demands of a full-time job with the responsibilities to prepare messages, minister to those in need, and most importantly, minister and be there for your family is HUGE. I really admire the pastors in smaller churches that are called to carry that load. At Cornerstone, we currently have a group of elders and teachers that share the preaching load. For me, just preaching every few weeks and planning youth meetings & events is really tough when you are busy at work.

My message this week was on Simeon & Anna from Luke chapter 2. I think this is one of those passages that is typically overlooked in our studies. By looking at the Biblical account of Simeon and Anna, we can see how their expectations of a Savior led them to action. As Christians, shouldn’t our expectations of Christmas lead us to Christ? In my studying it really hit me hard that Simeon and Anna were in the temple worshiping and waiting. Especially considering the 400 silent years between the prophecies of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. I can’t imagine that we would be patient enough to still be looking generation after generation after generation. We forget and lose track if we don’t get an answer in a few days. Patience is definitely not woven into the fabric of the American life. But here were Simeon and Anna, devoted to seeing the Christ Child, devoted to following the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

After looking at a little background from the Jewish ceremonies surrounding childbirth, we looked at four observations about Simeon & Anna and their expectations that also apply to us today.

1. Those who look for Christ will find Him.
2. They were led by the Holy Spirit
3. They knew how to Worship
4. They were ready to die, but more importantly, they were ready to truly LIVE.

So my question for you is this. Will you take the time to look for Christ during this Christmas Season? Or will you let the busyness, the inconvenience, and the distractions pull your focus to all the ‘stuff’ that takes our mind off of Christ? We say the same thing year after year, but it is so important to SIMPLIFY and focus on the Christ of Christmas. What will you expectations be for this Holiday season?

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