Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Great Omission

A couple of weeks ago I finished an incredible book: The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. I love the writings of Dallas Willard. He will make you think. This book is a collection of articles and lectures of his. It's worth reading.

There were two lines that are repeated over and over again in the book. I keep thinking about them and wanted to share.

Here's the first: Salvation is opposed to earning but not effort.

I love that. We can't earn our salvation, but it does require effort. We don't magically become like Jesus. We have to discipline ourselves. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

Makes me wonder: What effort am I (or are you) putting into your salvation?

The second is related, and this is a paraphrase: Do we have a plan or system in place for teaching people to obey all that Jesus commanded?

In the great commission we're told to "teach them to obey all that I've commanded." That should be our goal. Obedience to all Jesus commanded us to do.

I could say more, but I think it'd be better for you to read the book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Recommended devotional book

I need to preface my recommendation by saying that I'm not a big fan of devotional book and devotional reading. The reason being that we too often substitute them for reading the Bible, which is of utmost importance for followers of Jesus. Scripture is the primary way God speaks to his children. It should be our primary devotional source.

While I'm not a big fan of having a devotional book be our primary resource for our time with God, I am a fan of using it to supplement our Scripture intake. Sort of like how a multivitamin should supplement a nutritious diet.

With that in mind I want to strongly recommend a little book that I've been using since the first of the year. It is written by one of my favorite authors, a guy by the name of Dallas Willard. The devotional book is titled Hearing God Through the Year.

Drop what you're doing right now and order/download this book. I think I paid a little more than $3 for a used copy on abebooks.com.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stop making excuses

I know I might come across as a bit biased because I pastor a church, but I really am convinced that Christians should be in the regular habit of inviting friends, family, coworkers, and the occasional random stranger, to check out their church family. 

The reason I believe this is because I really do believe that we exist to follow Jesus, and part of following Jesus is being an active part of his family. I also believe that everybody spends eternity somewhere and Jesus is pretty clear that the path to eternity in heaven is through him. 

But when it comes to inviting people, too often we have excuses. Tom Rainer posted Ten reason why church members don't invite people. Here's his list: 
“I just don’t think about it.”  
"I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.”
"The music isn’t that good.” 
“The preaching isn’t strong.” 
“We’ve got too many church problems right now.” 
“Our church is already too crowded.” 
“Nobody ever challenged me to invite anyone.” 
“I don’t know how to start the conversation.” 
“It’s the Spirit’s job—not mine—to bring people to church.” 
“It’s too far for people to come.”
Now let's be honest. Some of those are really good excuses. Some are horrible excuses. But they are all still just excuses. 

Stop making excuses and invite someone.

The Christmas season is the best time of the year to invite someone to Hub City. So who's it going to be? 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Two ways to Be The Church

I'm going to let you in on a little "not-so-secret-secret" about me as a pastor. I'm not interested in doing church. Nowhere in Scripture are we called to do church where it's just an hour or so event that we can check off of our to-do list, where church is a place we go, where church is one of many things that competes for our attention. Scripture calls us to be the church and I am passionate about Hub City being the church. Scripture is clear that followers of Jesus are the church.

There are two ways for us to be the church. We can be the church individually. We can be the church corporately. 

I'll talk more about how to be the church individually in a later post, but I want to share with you an opportunity for us to be the church corporately.

There are many ways for us to be the church corporately, but we have been given an opportunity to strategically be the church corporately to the District 6 CDC. 

This means that we, as the Hub City Church family are going to take responsibility for praying for, loving, serving and meeting the needs of the teachers, staff and students at the CDC. We have two opportunities for us to be the church for them.
  • Pray for teachers and staff. We have a list of all the teachers and staff at the CDC. We want them to be prayed for regularly. Feel free to write notes of encouragement to them as you pray for them. Everything worthwhile begins and is covered in prayer. Let's pray for these teachers and staff.
  • Provide some things they need. We have been given a list of things that are needed by the teachers and staff. We're going to be collecting these items for the next two Sundays. Here's the list:
Crayons - regular size
Glue sticks
Clorox wipes
Baby Wipes
Boys/Girls new underwear
Pencils - regular size
Markers
Kleenex
Socks
Black permanent markers
I'm excited to see how God is going to use this partnership. We want to be a church that would be missed if we were to suddenly disappear. That happens when we serve. That happens when we love. That happens when we take serious our vision to Be The Church. 

Hub City: Be The Church.

Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Halloween

Every year on Halloween I encourage my fellow Christians to use this as an opportunity to serve your neighbors. Here are Jonathan's tips for making the most of Halloween:

Give out the best candy. 

Give our lots of candy. 

Welcome folks as they step onto your property.

Say nice things to the kids about their costumes.

Don't be the family who keeps their porch light off.

Don't give out tracks unless you are giving out awesome candy.

Don't be afraid to dress up.

This is the one time of the year that people will come to your door voluntarily and you have an opportunity to serve them. Make the most of it. You are where you are on purpose for a purpose. 

Be the house that everyone wants to visit this year.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Out of the loop

The past three weeks of seeing two churches unite into one church have been extremely exciting. God is doing some really cool things. Heck, we outgrew the baby room in week 2 and had to make people park in the back lot because we filled up the front lot. We've seen lots of new faces and so many of you are inviting people. I love being a part of what God is doing.

One of the biggest things we are working through in regards to the merging of two churches into one new Hub City Church is that some people are feeling out of the loop (I'm including me in those who are feeling out of the loop to a degree). 

This is a huge burden for me. So much so that I've spent a lot of time trying to keep people in the loop and trying to discern who's feeling out of the loop.

But I had a thought this morning. The reason people are feeling out of the loop is that we now have a new loop.

Change and transition create a new loop. We now have a new loop. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul: The old loop has gone, the new has come.

The challenge now is to figure out how to get onto the new loop. It won't just magically happen. You have to move from where you are (on the old loop) to where you need to be (the new loop).

So, how do you get onto the new loop? Here how:

  1. Lean in. Our natural tendency when we feel out of the loop is to pull away for a little while. That's the WORST thing you can do. You need to lean in. That means leaning into the discomfort, leaning into different, leaning in when everything in you says to pull away.
  2. Stay connected. This is all about relationships. You have to take responsibility for reaching out to people, connecting with people, hanging out with people, talking with people, praying for people. I know there are a lot of new people. It's weird, but the larger the crowd the more difficult it is to get to know people. That's why small groups are so important, by the way. We'll be launching those at the end of October, but for now intentionally look for ways to connect with people. Make sure you consistently attend worship and talk with others while you are there. Make sure to come to the Hub City Foundations class and connect with others while you are there. Whenever there's something going on over the next three months, be there!
  3. Stay involved. This is all about serving somewhere, somehow. There are more things to do than we have time and people right now. You are an essential and necessary part of this body. Do something. Do anything. For example: With the rapid growth of the under age 5 population, there are many preschool opportunities. There's an endless list of things to do to continue improving and updating the campus. Jump in with both feet and stay involved!
  4. Pray. I'm not adding this because it's the spiritual thing to say. I'm saying to pray because prayer is foundational. Pray for Hub City Church. Pray for me. Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Share your feelings with God. Ask him to show you who to get into the new loop. And then DO WHAT HE SAYS!
  5. Give. I don't really understand why it works this way, but it does: Our hearts, emotions and passions follow our spending. As Jesus said, "Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Something happens when we give generously and abundantly to God through our local church. So, how's your giving been? And I have to say that in order for us to be the church that God is calling us to be we all need to be giving.
  6. Invite. Just as something supernatural happens in our hearts when we give, something supernatural happens in our hearts when we invite others to be a part of what God is doing at Hub City. If you invite a friend or family member then you automatically have a vested interest in what is going on because you don't want to look stupid for bringing someone with you. So who can you invite THIS WEEK?
There's a new loop and I want EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU to be on the new loop. I've given you a good place to start.

One more thing: If you have questions/concerns/comments/snide remarks... please share them with me... just not right before I speak on Sunday. :) I can't read your mind. I can't do anything about your feelings or an issue if I don't know it exists. We're in this together. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Let's press on to accomplish God's purposes in our generation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

1 + 1 = 3 ... A united church


Hey everybody,

I wanted to pass along my transcript of what I shared yesterday about a Oak Grove's potential merger with Hub City. One thing that I think I forgot to say, that I want to emphasize, is this is not a 100% done deal. We believe God is leading in this direction and we are trying to follow his leadership, but Oak Grove has some tough decisions to make and discussions to have. We also want to give you time to ask questions. I want us to be united in our decision as we seek to obediently follow where the Holy Spirit is leading. I shared a timeline. I should have shared that the timeline is tentative and could change. We have to put the "f" word into practice: Flexibility!

Like I said yesterday, I want your questions. Email them to me before Sunday if you can. There will also be time for you to ask you questions on Sunday.

I want you to know that I am grateful for our church family. God has done and is doing some great things in us and through us. Pray for that to continue. Pray for Oak Grove.

Here's my transcript:

What was the first awesome gift you remember getting? For me it was an awesome banana-seat bicycle that I got when I was 5. It was awesome. I learned to ride a bike on that bike. I used to ride it to school when they still allowed you to ride bikes to school. It was like the best gift ever. That is until I turned 8 and I got an upgrade, a Mongoose Blue Max BMX with aluminum mag wheels. It was a better gift, a way better gift.

This morning I want to talk about a gift God has for the Hub City Church family.

I want to show you a verse. Hebrews 11:6


And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.


Without faith it is impossible to please God. That means that pleasing God and faith are linked. They go hand in hand.

But what is faith? Verse 1 gives us a definition:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.


The best picture of faith that I can think of is riding on the back of someone walking across a tight rope. Now let me ask you: On a scale of 1-10, what would you rate your faith level?

The reason I ask that is that this gift that God is giving us is going to require that we take our faith to the next level. It’s going to take faith on our part to accept this gift from God. But as I’m going to show you, this gift will help us to become the church that God wants us to be and transform the world where God has placed us.

So what is this gift that God for us? What if I were to tell you that God is giving us a gift of 40 people? And what if these 40 people come with a building? And it’s as if God is saying, “Here’s a gift.” God is giving us a gift of another church that wants to unite with us and become a part of the Hub City Family.

Let me tell you a story. A few months ago, when we started this revisioning process where we’re moving from just doing church to being the church, I met James. James was facilitating some training that our church health task force was going through. James wanted to get together for coffee and learn more about Hub City and our story so that he could do a better job consulting and helping us.

I met James at Bella Latte on 290 and shared him the story of Hub City and what had led us to where we are. At the end of our conversation he asked me to pray about something. He told me that he was the transitional pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church and that the church had just voted to pursue a merger with healthy church in the area. He asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested in talking with him. I said that I didn’t, but that I would pray for God to lead the right church to him. The truth is that I didn’t really know anything about church mergers, so the whole idea was foreign to me, so honestly, I didn’t think much else about it until the next day.

That happened on a Wednesday. On Thursday, I went to be a part of this pastoral leadership training that I’ve been a part of and Paul, some of you know Paul. He’s the big guy that has been helping us through our revisioning process. Well, Paul walked right up to me and said, “I hear James talked with you about Oak Grove merging with Hub City.”

I immediately said, “Whoa, time out! That’s not what we talked about at all. I thought James just asked me if I new of anyone who might be interested and I told him I’d pray.”

So after that meeting I went to text James and asked him if he was trying to test the water with his question. Like, “are you asking me if I’m interested in Oak Grove merging with Hub City?” He told me that all he wanted me to do was to pray about it.

So I did. I really didn’t want to pray about it. I wasn't really interested. So I said to God, “God, if you want me to have another conversation with James about this, then I want you to make it the only thing I can think about.”

So for the next few days, honestly, I couldn’t get it off my mind. So I met with Mike and asked him to pray with me about having another conversation with James. We prayed for a few days and both decided that God was saying yes to another conversation.

 So on June 16 I met with James to hear more. I heard how Oak Grove has been on the decline for over 25 years, and that they haven’t really had any real vision or mission for almost that long. I heard that they have a leadership void. I heard that they are willing to do whatever it takes because they want God to use them and their facility to build his kingdom and make disciples. I learned that they’ve been hurt and burned and are wounded and in need of love and care.

What I didn’t hear were any red flags. Now, I had a long, long list of red flags that I was looking for that would let me know that this wasn’t really what God wanted us to do.

I was totally shocked that not one red flag came up, so we decided that I should invite a few more Hub City people into the know so that they could pray. I met with Jaimee and Allen, Bryan Scott, and Mike. I shared with them asked for them to seek God’s leading. Does God want us to move forward with this? After a few days of prayer, they all agreed that God wanted us to move forward with this and have a first date. The first date was four leaders from Hub City getting together with four leaders from Oak Grove to share and listen and pray. Gary, Jaimee, Mike and myself met with four people from Oak Grove. After that conversation we all agreed that God was leading us to a second date.

On June 27 I met with the Leadership Community, Church Health Task Force and Church Health Prayer Team of Hub City Church to share about a potential merger with Oak Grove Baptist Church and to ask for prayer. We had 27 people in my house. All participants overwhelmingly and excitingly approved moving forward in obedience to how God was leading.

The second date would consist of 12 people from Hub City meeting with their merger team of 9 people to talk about the vision, mission, non-negotiables, and DNA of a united church. After that meeting, Gary and I met with their team one more time to answer some of their questions and clarify some things for them, and they voted unanimously that God was calling them to merge with us, and in the words of an 85 year old man named Bob, “We need to make this happen.”

Now, as I’ve said, there have been a lot of people at Hub City who have been involved in this decision making process. The Leadership Community, Church Health Task Force and Church Health Prayer Team as well as a few others. If you have been on the team that has been discussing this please stand.

The reason I want these people to stand is that I want you to know that this has been a decision that has been discussed by and prayed for by all these people.

And all of us firmly believe that this is what God is calling Hub City to do.

I want to answer some questions you might have. I know I won’t answer everyone’s questions, that’s why we’re going to have a question and answer time next Sunday.

What is going to change for Hub City?

The two big things that will change are where we meet and the number of people who are a part of our church?

But what’s awesome about this is that each of us bring something unique to a united church. I want to tell you what we bring to a united church.

We bring a name. The united church will be Hub City Church.

We bring a vision and a mission of making disciples who make disciples. They need a vision and mission.

We bring a come-as-you-are value of authenticity. Our casual atmosphere will stay the same. The reason we have a casual, come as you are atmosphere is that we don’t want to do anything that would put up a barrier between someone and God.

We bring a more relevant music and worship style. We will still have the band and do music like we do music. They actually bring some musicians who have been limited in how they can use their gifts.

We bring partnerships with Alex’s House, Disciple’s Village, Church Builders. Not only will these continue but they will get better. We’ll be able to do more.

We bring a lot to the table that they need, but the truth is that Oak Grove brings a lot to a united church.

They bring more people to love and disciple.

They bring people who have been burned and hurt by church and we get to help people who have been burned and hurt by church heal. Many of you have been burned and hurt and have found healing at Hub City.

They bring a partnership with a school. They already have inroads with the District 6 Child Development Center. I have always wanted us to be able to serve a school regularly and consistently.

They bring a group of people who want to serve and make a difference.


They bring a segment of the population that we don’t currently have: Senior Citizens. I believe that the church should be multi-cultural and intergenerational. We have a ways to go so that we look like that, but this merger moves us more fully towards being intergenerational with the addition of seniors who have a lot to teach us and who need some young energy to build their faith.

 They bring an opportunity to do things that are very difficult to do being portable. They bring an amazing, debt-free facility. Yes, it does need to be renovated. But it’s a great facility and property with a ton of potential. We’re going to give you the opportunity to tour the facility on September 4.

The facility has a workout room. That’s right, they have a workout room. It’s amazing what resources they have that don’t get used.

The facility has a fellowship hall where we can eat together. We get an ice machine which will be very helpful for Movies in the Park.

They bring a permanent home base, which will allow us to better train and equip you to be the church. We also get some property that we can make available to the community. There is a great ball field that the community can use.

They bring a neighborhood. Right here we are in the middle of a retail center. Behind and around their property are neighborhoods that we can serve.

Let me share the tentative timeline.

      Today we share with both churches.
      Tonight: Gary and I go to Oak Grove to answer questions
      Next Sunday: We will use our worship time to answer questions.
      September 4: We will worship separately, but after worship we’ll head over there to eat together. It’ll be a mix and mingle time.
      September 11: They have to vote for this to be official. This will be our final day of worship in the theater.
      September 18 will be our first worship gathering together as a new Hub City Church. This just happens to be Hub City’s 8th birthday.
      September 18- October 23: This will be the only time we do Sunday Night Church. This will be a chance to teach our disciple making mission, our disciple making process, what Hub Groups are like, and our membership class.
      October 30: Recommit and recovanant to membership in the new Hub City Church.

I’ll be honest, this is kind of scary. It involves a significant amount of risk. But what I’ve discovered is that doing what God calls you to do isn’t always safe and predictable. Remember what the writer of Hebrews said: Without faith it is impossible to please God.
I want you to know my heart. We would not be having this discussion if I or the Leaders here at Hub City weren’t confident that this is what God is calling us to do. In fact, I think this is the path for us to see our “be the church” vision come to fruition.

I also want you to know that I want each and every one of you to be a part of this. One of my reservations is that we would lose some of you in the transition. I have been praying against that. I’m going to do all I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want you to make sure you do your part to make sure that doesn’t happen as well. Commit to be a part of this.

We’re actually creating a team called the “no person left behind” team whose sole purpose is that we don’t leave anyone behind. This team will be made up of people from Hub City and Oak Grove.

So what do you need to do? First, I want you to ask questions. I know you have questions. We want to do our best to answer your questions. We want to hear your questions. That’s why, next Sunday, during our normal worship time, we’re going to worship with our questions and use our time for Q&A. This will give you a week to come up with questions.

Actually, I would love your questions ahead of time. That way I can make sure I have all the information I need to answer things well. In fact, some of you already have questions. Well, that’s why you have a 3x5 card. What questions come to mind for you right now?

Second, I want to invite you to pray. More than anything, we want God’s will to be done. I don’t want Hub City’s will done. I don’t want Oak Grove’s will done. I don’t want my will done. I want God’s will to be done. That has been my prayer and the prayer of our team all along. And we want to invite and encourage you to pray.

And honestly, this is a really big and life changing decision for the members of Oak Grove. Some of them have been members at Oak Grove for 70 years. There’s a lot of history there. So I would ask that you pray for them. It will be harder for them to make this change than it will be for us.

Finally, a want to invite you to live by faith. God is giving us a gift.

Pray