Wayfarer Camp 2013

July 15, 2013 — 2 Comments

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Last week, we took a group of our Cornerstone youth to the Wayfarer Beach Camp in Myrtle Beach.  We really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m so glad we decided to go. Over the past 17 years, I have been to numerous youth camps, conferences, mission trips and concerts, but Wayfarer was one of the best events we have ever participated in. It was truly a life-changing event for our youth, and we are already planning on taking a much larger group next year. It was the first time that two of my children went as part of the youth, so I had to work hard throughout the week not to embarrass them :-) Here is what made this such a successful week for our ministry.

Huddles

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Wayfarer Camp is built around the ministry philosophy of the group 3DM. They strongly believe in building a discipleship culture in the local church. I have participated in workshops by 3DM, and I have read many of the missional and discipleship books by Mike Breen of 3DM. We had numerous times to meet together with our students to unpack and discuss what they were learning. Throughout the week we asked our youth the questions”What is God saying?” and “What are you going to do about it?”  The camp leaders said that their goal was for students to have a spiritual experience based not in a room, but with a group. The large group teaching flowed naturally into our group times, and I appreciate the camp trusting the local church leaders to disciple and lead their students. Our youth had many spiritual breakthroughs during the week and I am continually amazed to see God at work.

Large Group Teaching

Dave Rhodes and Chris Brooks were the two lead speakers for the week. Both did an incredible job of teaching and leading students through our theme of faith, hope, and love. So many youth speakers fall into the trap of guilt and manipulation, and I loved the fact that this camp focused on God’s redemptive power. The students learned that their obedience flows out of their identity in Christ, and they were deeply moved by what they learned from Scripture throughout the week. By having two different teachers, the message was not tied to a personality. Both speakers also engaged and talked with the students instead of preaching at the students. You could tell both had a huge heart for ministry and discipleship. They also provided several great experiential responses to the messages, so that the students could participate and learn through different learning styles.

Worship

David Walker led worship for the week of camp and did a phenomenal job. Seeing almost 400 youth together praising God is an awe-inspiring. From the first day, he engaged the students. He shared from Scripture, he shared his heart for worship, and he demonstrated how to listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit during worship. Our students kept talking about how much they enjoyed the worship times. They liked the authenticity of the the worship and they liked that it didn’t feel like a performance. The music was loud and powerful, and the students responded with passion.

Service Projects

One of the things that made us consider this camp was their emphasis on serving. While there, we were able to participate in two service projects. We worked with Barefoot Church painting, landscaping, and cleaning up, and then we cooked dinner for a local soup kitchen. A huge part of our mission at Cornerstone is engaging our culture, and this camp reinforced what we have been teaching. I love seeing students serve others, and it helps them realize that camp is about much more than fun and games.

Youth Worker Training

Each day, the Wayfarer team poured into training our youth leaders. We were blessed to be able to take Chris and Brandy with us, and Jennifer did a great job leading the trip for us. For me, it was a great week of getting to know our students better. I have not been as involved with youth ministry over the past couple of years, but this week was refreshing on so many levels. I enjoyed getting to know the other youth pastors, and it was great hearing stories of how God was moving in the lives of students throughout the week.

 

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accidentalA few weeks ago, I read a book by Pastor Larry Osborne called Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith. I heard Larry Osborne share about this book during a church conference simulcast, and I wanted to find out more.

In the American church, trends come and go. One of the current trends is a much needed emphasis on the importance of discipleship. I have read and been challenged by books like Crazy Love, Radical, and Not a Fan. But I have noticed that many read the same books and walk away with feelings of guilt and shame, feeling that they will never measure up to a standard of extreme Christian discipleship. That is where this book steps in and provides balance and clarity to the topic of discipleship. God desires our obedience and faithfulness, but we must also remember that each person has different gifts and abilities. Not everyone is called to sell everything and travel to the other side of the world to spread the gospel to unreached people groups.

A book like this is helpful to bring balance and perspective. In our eagerness to promote discipleship, we must be careful to not start a new type of legalism, emphasizing works and efforts over grace. I enjoy reading books by Osborne, because they are practical and based on his pastoral experience as Pastor of North Coast Church in California. This is an interesting book because it counters some of my recent favorite reads. I do feel that at times, Osborne fails to obey some of his own cautionary advice as he critiques other movements and terminology within the church. Overall, this was a helpful book, but please don’t use it as an excuse for a failure to obey and follow Christ. It is far too easy to rationalize our faith and make excuses, so being radical is not always a bad thing.

Quotes from the Book

Continue Reading…

WMC-LOGO

For the last few days, I have been trying out a new worship software package called Worship Media Creator. It creates video announcements, video countdowns, and custom backgrounds for worship. It also can function as worship presentation software in a pinch. The software is from the guys at SermonGear.com, and it can save you time if you are creating videos for your church. Here is a breakdown of what it can do:

With the Worship Media Creator, you can:

  • Build Customized Countdowns that animates to your music
  • Make video announcements in minutes
  • Create your own worship background loops, or add your own media library
  • Use built in templates to spread your message
  • Export your presentation to a video file to use in your existing projection setup, or project it live!
  • Share your projects and creativity with other churches

If you have ever tried to create your own countdown video, you will truly appreciate how quick and easy it is to create one in this program. This software really appeals to people who are intimidated by complex software, but it still has more than enough features for power users. However, it won’t magically turn someone with no graphic or video design skills into a professional. You still need a good understanding of gradients, shadows, colors, and fonts to use this program effectively.

The best way to understand a software package is to see it in action. They have a great video tutorial page, and you can even download a free trial version to check it out. Here are a couple of videos that show you how the software works.

Keep reading to see more examples and to see my final thoughts.

Continue Reading…

ChurchMag Top 20 - 2013Over the last few years, my blog has focused on both faith and technology. I have a passion for helping other churches utilize technology and social media. Since I’ve been finishing up seminary, I haven’t been as active in posting updates here on the blog, but I hope that will change over the next few months. I have a number of posts I’m working on.

ChurchMag is one of my favorite resources for Church Technology news. I’m honored that they have selected my blog as one of the top 20 Church Tech Blogs for the second consecutive year. Check out their list of the top 30 Church Tech Blogs to find other great resources, tutorials, and technology updates.

As an added bonus, you can subscribe to a twitter list with updates from the authors of the top 30 blogs. Thanks to ChurchMag for taking the time to discover and share these websites.

iOS7: First Impressions

June 12, 2013 — 3 Comments

2013-06-11 11.17.172013-06-11 11.17.37In case you haven’t heard, Apple announced this week the new version of iOS that will be released to the public this fall. iOS 7 will run on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. You can find out more information about it on Apple’s website. One of the benefits of developing our church’s mobile app is that I have an Apple iOS developer’s account, which means I get early access to beta software from Apple. I’ve already installed iOS7 on my iPhone 5 and have been using it for the last two days. Here are some initial thoughts.

Installation

As with any beta software, don’t install this if you aren’t willing to deal with occasional crashes and problems. I had several problems installing it, but in the end, I was able to install it and restore all my programs and settings from iOS6. At first, it would not authenticate with Apple’s servers (even though my UDID is listed in the developer program), but after a restore and upgrade everything worked fine. I’m used to rooting android phones, so I was not surprised by the challenges.

Graphic Interface

The graphic interface is much different from the current iOS. I have read mixed reviews about it, but I like it. Apple needed to change things up, and I like their new direction. The screenshot on the left shows my current home screen, and the screenshot on the right shows the new control center that is reached by swiping up on the screen. The control center is the best new feature, although it doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the system graphically. The system does take on the color of your wallpaper, so it changes based on what you choose to be your background. The design reminds me of the MIUI Custom ROM for Android. They have learned quite a few lessons from Android and incorporated them into this release.

Features

The Control Center is a huge time saver and probably the biggest improvement. iOS 7 also has better multi-tasking and better notifications. However, most of the features are just incremental improvements. Everything looks differently, but it still functions in a similar way. The apps have been improved, but don’t expect any huge surprises. Apple does typically add more features when the software launches, so this could change.

Overall

I would give this a B+, they improved iOS by taking it graphically in a new direction. I like the new look, and the 3D parallax feature really adds a sense of depth to the home screen and lock screen.  A few of my apps are crashing, so not everything is working perfectly yet, but that is to be expected with a beta operating system. I am actually amazed at how well it is working. I was expecting much worse. If you want to find out more about the software, then watch the opening video Apple showed at the Developers conference earlier this week.

We had a great week in Nicaragua. A team of 18 people from Cornerstone and Galax went to serve with Because We Care Ministries. I had the opportunity to continue working with pastor training in Honduras and Nicaragua. We taught almost 60 local pastors and church leaders basic theology, leadership, preaching, and Bible Study. Our team went to local schools during the day to share the love of Christ with the students. Each afternoon we were able to go out into remote villages and provide food, medical care, and love, all while sharing the Gospel with numerous groups and individuals. We saw many people give their lives to Christ this week, and that is always our goal.

I am so proud of our team. We encountered many setbacks during the week from storms, to equipment breakdowns, to high humidity and heat, but the team kept pushing forward without complaint. I could see so many on our team grow throughout the week. It was also special for me and such a joy to be able to serve together as a family. This was the first time we took all of our children on the trip.

There were so many great God moments throughout the week. One stands out in my mind. I was introducing my son to one of the local pastors. The pastor spoke just a little English and I speak just a little Spanish, but we were able to communicate. The pastor put his arm around me and looked at my son. He said “Your father is my pastor and my teacher, and my friend.” That is why we go. To serve, to love, to train, and to help. If you want to know more about our trip, you can go to the website for Because We Care Ministries and look through the Nica-News for June 2013.

(if you don’t see the photos – click here to view in your web-browser)

Nicaragua Bound

May 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

This time tomorrow I will be on a plane heading south to Nicaragua with a team of 18 people from Cornerstone. Our church has made numerous trips to Nicaragua to work with Because We Care Ministries. I have been several times, but this is the first time our entire family is going. I’ll be working with local pastors in Honduras and Nicaragua, and our team will be working in different schools and remote villages throughout the week. We will be providing updates through the Because We Care website. You can signup for email updates from their website.

The picture below shows a little girl who showed up while we were cooking a meal during one of our previous trips. She was ready to eat! We typically provide a hot nutritious meal to all of the villages we visit and we also take local nurses and doctors with us to provide medical care. I appreciate your prayers. This is going to be a great week of ministry!

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Finished!

May 30, 2013 — 3 Comments

Let me share a little of my past with you.

I started serving in part-time youth ministry in 1996. By 2000, I was hooked and I felt God calling me into ministry. Over the next two years, I went through the license and ordination process for our local Southern Baptist Association, and was officially licensed and ordained as a minister. In 2002, I felt that the next step should be to start working on my seminary degree, so I started online at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

After just taking a couple of classes over the first two semesters, I realized that working a full-time job, serving as a part-time youth minister, and parenting two small children (Drew wasn’t here yet) was a recipe for disaster. I was spread too thin, and I simply couldn’t do everything that was required of me. So I walked away from seminary with no plan to return. I kept serving in youth ministry, and I continued to grow in faith and confidence in ministry. In 2007, God really changed my plans and I started full-time as pastor of Cornerstone Community Church.

Two years ago, in 2011, I started thinking about finishing up my seminary degree. I did some checking, found a scholarship, and re-enrolled. And now, I am proud and extremely happy to say that I finished my Master’s Degree!  I received a M.A.R. in Christian Leadership this month. It has been a tough year and a half balancing family demands with school and ministry. I’ve written more papers and read more than I ever did in Engineering, but it feels great to be done.

A few people have asked me why I decided to go back. My biggest reason is that I felt I needed to grow my knowledge and skill. I have had some natural leadership ability, but as our church has grown, I have been stretched far beyond my ability. It has been a sink or swim opportunity, and although I’m trusting God to keep me afloat, I have a responsibility to do everything I can to preach, teach, and lead effectively. I’m thankful for Liberty Online. They have allowed me to continue in ministry and still go back to school. Now, I’ve got some catching up to do on my reading. I can actually start reading books that I want to read again.

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