Archive for the ‘Vision’ category

Tribute the Young Adults @ CBC

February 28, 2009

Last night our young adults hosted an event called “The Pillar.” It was a coffee, community, and conversation hangout. We converted the Cornerstone foyer (half of it) into a living room coffee shot. It was my first time sitting and watching people do poetry or “spoken word” in a coffee shop event. Our worship pastor, whose skills are not right (the guy can preach, teach, make disciples, evangelize, and do all kinds of stuff on every instrument known to man; it’s not right), created music to the theme of the night. Our youth pastor officiated the night. We probably had 45-50 in attendance. We had over 100 in confirmed in Facebook. Ultimately we want to offer something to college students that’s Christian, but not church-ish. 

I have never been more proud of our young adults. They are God’s champions and will reach people in our culture for Christ. 

Observations:

1. A little over a year ago an event like this was a dream, but could never have been a reality. The key players we not in place. 

2. This event was birthed out of a Bible Study Class/small group. Environment is everything. A healthy small group/Bible Study Class should produce ministry and missional life at some point. I knew this could happen, but had to wait a year to see this happen. 

3. One young lady in the class has a vision to open a coffee shop. She said, “let’s do this.” We did it. We had a planning meeting and boom, it happened. Vision breeds unity. 

4. Last night, we had a unchurched people in the crowd. The gospel was shared. 

5. Momentum is important. People were excited. They want excitement. 

6. Every church should turn its foyer into a coffee shop. In this culture, do it. Community is important. People are disconnected and the American culture doesn’t help. People need friends and spiritual growth.  

7. Young adults, if you invest in them, will participate. One of our young adults who is gone to college sent the church a check to defray costs for the event. Hello! That’s kingdom!

Last night before I went to bed I thought of this:

“Taking risks is good when people are the focus and God gets the glory.” 

I’m glad we took a risk to do an event that was “out of the box.”

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10 Core Values for Churches in the President Barack Obama Era

January 28, 2009

What should the church do in an Obama era? What can we do to seize the moment? I want to suggest 10 things. 

1. Commit to allow the scripture to be what determines your beliefs, preaching, and agenda, not political values. Political values have too long been allowed to be grouped with biblical truth. Republicans did it for a long time. But the game is over. If scripture alone drives my preaching and ministry, then I will focus on what God wants me to focus on. Our culture is trying to slip its value system into the church communities. We cannot let that happen. We must not be Dems or Repubs, but Christians. 

2. Value other cultures without becoming a theological pluralist thus rejecting the exclusivity of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Many non-Christian cultures will build relationships with others. But, when the discussion comes to Jesus Christ you will be challenged to accept other religious ideas, thus marginalizing the biblical teaching of “one God” and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. The exclusivity of Christ is already being softened in the American church. Be careful, but stay connected to unbelievers. 

3. Help your people by avoiding politics in the pulpit because it only causes division along party lines, thus eliminating Great Commission unity in your community. I’ve pushed politics in the pulpit. I’ve been subtle about it, but I’ve done it. It rarely helped me do what God has actually called me to do: “Make disciples.” Don’t get me wrong. I love our system of free voting. I appreciate a democratic culture. BUT, it cannot produce transformation, kingdom change in a culture.

4. Preach the gospel clearly and weekly. I follow a lot of pod casts and preaching on TV. I’ve noticed the gospel is rarely being shared. It may be added on barely at the end of the message, but it’s not the priority. I’m not saying preachers should preach the same evangelistic message every week. I’m saying evaluate your preaching. Are you leaving the gospel out? When’s the last time you challenged people to be saved from your pulpit or small group? 

5. Partner with Pastors who are not your ethnicity and build honest, long-term relationships with them. Our country is truly a melting pot is diversity. To see the election of Barack Obama was an amazing, stunning event. Yet the unity is cultural and political. Is our country really interested in racial unity? I’m not sure. What I do know is that the church is lagging sadly behind in race relations. Most White and Black pastors have no real friends of opposite color. And now, our nation is trying to have a dialogue on race? We are not ready for it. We are trying to have the hardest discussion with the wrong people. While I need to have the race discussion with people who are my color, I really need to have it with people who are not my color (different for me because most of my friends are non-anglos). We need to understand the other side of race. How can we do that when we don’t have any real friends of another ethnic background?

6. Hire/Call a staff leader/minister who is not the ethnicity of the majority of your congregation. Not all churches are ready for this, but some are. And it will only take a little vision casting to make it happen. Many churches and church people are ready to enter the game of race relations. They are just waiting for leadership. Bring on a person of different ethnicity proves our motives. Our country is experiencing racial unity. Why not the church? The time is right for us to make a move up on the front lines. We cannot stay in the rear forever. 

7. Start a multicultural church, in partnership with another church of different ethnicity, in your community. This would be the next level commitment. Can you imagine the witness of two or three churches planning, praying, promoting a new “multi-cultural” church start? WOW! Why not? Why not do it? Most churches are not going to become ethnically diverse. Churches are intrenched with racial division. Digging them out is probably not worth it. 

8. Develop “position papers” on homosexuality and abortion. Distribute them. Then don’t preach these issues often. These issues are being marginalized in our present culture. It’s not worth it to preach on them hard because when you do, you will be working against the momentum from the recent election. I’m not saying be weak on these issues. Just wait and be timely. I’ve heard only John Piper preach against these in the last week, in churches or even media. If you preach against it your preaching against the President. It’s not worth it. 

“83% of always-unchurched said lack of openness to homosexuals would negatively impact their view of the church.”Ed Stetzer at I3 Conference 2009. 

We need to change the way we communicate our message. The message also needs to have a practical, redemptive element to it. 

9. Host “Unity Forums” with your pastor friends in #5 to educate people in racial issues.” Get the discussion going. Yes, it may be hard, but hey isn’t it worth it? Move the discussion from the back room  and living room to the church rooms.

10. Partner with a church, not of your ethnicity, to do a ministry project in your community, together, as a witness (John 17). 

I plan to register soon as an Independent. Never again will a candidate get my vote by playing the Jesus card. I have told my family to not talk to people about politics, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. Interacting politically in the church only divides the church in America.

What do you think?

2009 a Breakthrough Year

December 26, 2008

I have a good feeling about 2009. I’m not sure why, but I guess it may be 2008 seemed to be slow and sluggish in the church and country. But now the election is over and it seems we will see which church will show up in the West. I want to do my part in making things better. Here are a few things I hope to do better this year. vision2010

1. Develop fewer, more meaningful, long term relationships in the church. 

2.  Get further out of debt. 

3. Make sure I program and administrate with smaller group interaction as a part of the event or an after event opportunity.

4. Finish my doctoral degree and push sermon based small groups anywhere I can to help churches shut the back door.

5. Write 2 books.

6. Manage my time more effectively at home and work.

7. Take more initiative for my pastor especially in casting his vision.

8. Develop deeper relationships within my extended family. 

9. Make time in my schedule to work out consistently for a year. 

10. Retreat with God more. 

What are you looking to see or do in 2009?

Vision Correction

October 11, 2008

I wear contacts and glasses (not at the same time). Why? Because I cannot see well without corrective help. For years when I was growing up, I wore glasses. I have a sleepy eye and am cross-eyed. In the last few years though, my eyes have stabilized. My vision is not getting better, but it’s not getting worse. Every year I go and have my eyes checked. Why? So I can see right and get an updated prescription. I need vision correction. Without it, I can’t read. I can’t see. I see better with vision correction.

For the past 15 years I’ve been serving in Christian ministry. I have more education than most ever have in a lifetime. The one thing I never received training on is vision: a picture of God’s future for the church. Vision can look easy, but it’s not. Vision and strategy are harder than I ever thought. So I have read a lot on vision lately, especially as it’s related to my life, family, ministry, and church. Of all the books I’ve read on vision and strategy, I’ve found one that’s making it simple.

Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones have written a grand slam of a book. I recommend every Christian leader get it and read it. Then re-read it with your leadership team. They have thought it through. For example, the first thing the book recommends is “Clarifying the Win.” What does successful discipleship look like in your church? I’m convinced we have hidden behind programs which never make us clarifyanything. If there are people coming, it must be a win. I’m reading this book and can’t put it down. Tomorrow, I will finish it on the plane. If you want to challenge yourself and help your church (whether your a pastor or volunteer leader), get this book. I promise you, it will help you see better. You will have a fresh understanding of how to set yourself up to win in ministry, and probably more importantly, you will have a clear picture of what it means for you to make a disciple. 

I’m no expert on vision. I’m just one who has grown a lot because I’m willing to admit I need to up my game. You don’t have to be an expert. You have to desire to make disciples in an authentic way.

Vision and Strategy Challenge

October 2, 2008

Vision: a Great Commission picture of God’s future for you.

Vision is not easy. I’ve for years thought I had a handle on vision, strategy, and mission. But I have in the last few years come to realized vision is hard. It’s hard to develop a specific vision. It’s even harder to have a vision that has real substance and strategic legs. I’m convinced most church members in America don’t know what their church’s vision is and how it’s related to them.

I’ve found most churches ask “How many were here? What was the budget? Baptisms?” But there are some who are asking the questions beneath the questions: “Where did they go while they were here? Did we make disciples today or have another crowd? Did we share the gospel? Are we spending in the right areas that improve discipleship? Where does biblical community happen on our campus?” Those questions are hard to ask because of these reasons:

1. Silos: when you begin to ask strategy questions, something will be revealed. It may hurt but it will get better. Someone won’t like you asking, “What are you doing to connect people to…….” 

2. Change: asking the second and third questions will reveal not only that neglect and apathy are present. They will also reveal your culture’s real change ratio. 

3. Motive: asking the other questions involved in ministry will show motives. Some won’t like you poking in on their ministry because it’s not about other people. We often drift from people to program. My motive is to have a good program, not to reach, teach, and minister to people.

Challenge yourself! Don’t wait for someone to challenge you. If you challenge yourself, challenge won’t hurt when it comes.

Highlight Church: 242 Community Church

August 11, 2008

I’ve been researching churches across the nation that are a little different but are doing the right things. I stumbled across 242 Community Church. I love this church! Last month their home page feature a video on ServeFest. They did servant evangelism in their community. The web doesn’t say it, but this has to be an Acts 2:42 church. Look at their home page now. What do you think this church’s priorities are?

http://www.242community.com/

Visionary Church–Flamingo Road Church

July 16, 2008

Vision419 wants to spotlight a church on the cutting edge. It’s stunning what Flamingo Road Church is doing in South Florida and the world. You must check them out. They are very different from your traditionally structured church. This past weekend I watched a big name Pastor on tv before I went to church. This Pastor is a great expositor of the word. But as I looked at him, a couple of things caught my attention: His dress and His style of delivery. He wore a suit. I wear a suit on Sunday and have no problem with it. But I wonder what a suit says about me to emerging generations? His expository style is also what concerned me. I’m for the exposition. It was his style that was the problem. His delivery was very didactic mixed with a one sided, no interaction even assumed style. Again, I wonder what younger, emerging generations think of that? I’m not sure.

Pastor Troy Gramling at Flamingo Road Church looks different. You can tell he has been influenced by Pastor Ed Young, which is not bad. Surf this church’s site for a few minutes. Watch one of Troy’s messages. It’s awesome what they are doing. What’s best for me, is they have a campus in Lima, Peru.

Not every church needs to be Flamingo Road Church. But some of the more traditionally structured churches have to begin to see reaching younger, emerging people will require a change in form, not content.

What could your church learn from Flamingo Road Church? What would you be willing to give up to reach younger people so there will be a legacy in the future? I’m trying to rethink some of my tradition. Join me!