Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Back in the saddle

Man, I had a good couple of days at the Church Planting Redone conference. I hope to pass along some things that I learned when I get a bit of time.

The best part of coming back from a trip is seeing your family. Levi lit up when he saw me last night and Nathan and Matthew have tried to beat the living daylights out of me (it's a way to show love).

This Sunday is going to be great. We're going to be prayer walking/driving at 10:30 and then we'll be finishing the second part of our talk on Warding off Criticism. Invite a friend who doesn't go to church anywhere.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Field Trip notes

I've got to brag on Charlotte North Fellowship. They didn't know we were coming to check out how they do 'church in the movies' this morning because I know that Sundays are busy and I didn't want to complicate things for them. Well, once they found out that we were a church plant they went out of their way to show us around, give us the ins and outs of doing 'church at the movies,' talk to us about set-up, tear-down, working with theater management and they had GREAT Starbucks coffee!!!

I am also so appreciative to the team from The Point that went with us. I think God showed us some things and it was awesome to get a picture in our heads of what could be.

Here are some observations that I made:
  • Their set-up was SIMPLE. My first thought was, "We can do this!"
  • Each team (greeting, host, etc.) had matching cool t-shirts with the church's logo. That way it was easier to know who to go to for help.
  • They use Tall Wooden Boxes to collect financial contributions and connection cards, just like us!!!
  • The BIG theater screen is great.
  • Children's workers all wore reflective road worker vests. It went with the "Kidstreet" theme, but it was also cool.
  • All the flooring in the kid's area was that interlocking padded stuff.
  • They stored all their stuff under the screens. That means they don't need a trailer.
  • It's fun having a cup-holder at your seat.
  • They had very professional, yet simple looking signage. It gave things an air of credibility and professionalism. It communicated, "We care and we're for real" to me.
From my perspective, it was a great first field trip. I can't wait for our next one in two weeks.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Field Trip

This Sunday AM The Point is taking a field trip to Charlotte North Fellowship to check out how people do "church at the movies." This is the first of many field trips that we'll be taking to learn, grow our vision and experience something new.

To our team: We're meeting at 8:15 in the parking lot of the old Krispy Kreme. Everything is still a go for Sunday night at 6. Invite some friends.

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Fear

Sometimes I think that fear is the # 1 enemy that gets in the way of God working in and through our lives. Fear keeps us from developing real relationships. Fear keeps us from commitments. Fear keeps us from having the tough conversations. Fear keeps us from trusting God. Fear keeps us from seeing God work.

I see so many people (myself included many times) who let their fears dictate their lives. It’s a shame.

I read that the most repeated command in Scripture is do not be afraid. I think there’s significance there. Once again God knows more about us than we realize or would like to admit.

So what are you afraid of? What is fear keeping you from?

Really, fear is a trust issue. Do you trust God? When we give in to our fears we are essentially saying, No, I don’t trust you God. You’re not big enough, trustworthy enough, loving enough to intervene, so I’m just going to play it safe.”

Don’t give in to fear. By doing so you will miss out on what God wants to do in and through you. You may even miss out on God.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Coming this Sunday...

Let me just say that you are going to want to be at The Point on Sunday night. All of us have to deal with criticism. This week and next week we’ll be discussing how to respond to and handle criticism. You can get a head start by reading Nehemiah 4. The band is going to be doing one of their original songs (which I think is kind of cool). It’s a great night to invite a friend!

Don’t forget about the field trip to Charlotte North Fellowship Sunday morning. We’ll meet at the old Krispy Kreme parking lot at 8:15. See you Sunday!

Please pray for Sunday. I believe that God has something he wants to say to you. I can’t tell you how much he has been speaking to me as I’ve prepared. Also, don’t forget to be praying for the 5 unchurched friends you are going to invite on Easter Sunday. See you Sunday!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What's relevant?

I want The Point to be relevant. I think God wants The Point to be relevant. Unfortunatley, so often, church is perceived as irrelevant. So, that begs the question: What makes for a relevant church?

What I’m about to share is not original to me. I learned it from Andy Stanley and the main reason I’m writing this is as a reminder and motivator to me. I hope that it help you too.

For an environment, a church, a ministry to be relevant three things must be present: An appealing context, an engaging presentation and helpful content. All three MUST be present in order for things to be perceived as relevant. If any one is missing then there’s a problem. There’s too much at stake to be irrelevant. Let’s do whatever it takes to be relevant.

Along those lines here is a great post of fighting cruise control as a church.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Blessing my kids

Levi is four months old today. The poor little guy has to go get some shots this morning. I am SO glad I don’t have to be there for that traumatic experience. Shot are rough on the little fellows.

I love my three boys. I believe God has given Liz and me a wonderful gift in our kids. I tell her often that I think they are a tool that God uses to keep me sane during this church planting adventure. They make me laugh. They soften my heart. They push me to my limit. They distract me. They are my motivation.

I want to be a great dad for them. One of the ways that I’m trying to be a great dad is in the area of blessing. I want to bless my boys. Now let me tell you what I mean.

I want to speak words and create experiences that help them to become the men that God has created them to be. I don’t always do the best job at that, but it’s a goal of mine. I’m open to ideas on how to do this better if any of you have some.

Do you have kids? Have you blessed them today? The words we speak and the words we don’t speak say more than we realize. Also, you don’t have to have kids to bless people. Who in your life did you bless today? What words did you say or what experiences did you create that move people towards being who God has created them to be?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday night reflections 2-18-07

I started yesterday morning by accidentally running across this verse. I don’t think it was an accident. Check it out.

I am pretty pumped about what is going on right now at The Point. We had 4 new first time guests. We had some returners. I love returners. We had some new people stepping in to serve.

I really appreciate Susan and Michelle stepping up to create a preschool room on the spot. With only our team’s kids in attendance our children’s ministry needs have been pretty minimal. I think our volunteers have done an incredible job putting together some creative experiences that communicate truth to our kids, and they’ve been able to do that with one class and one teacher. Last night we had a new family with a young child. And Susan and Michelle adapted greatly to create something from nothing. THANK YOU! They showed a whatever it takes attitude.

Don’t forget that this coming Sunday we’re going to be taking a field trip. Meet at the parking lot of the old Krispy Kreme at 8:15 AM and we’ll head up to Charlotte to check out how some churches are doing church in movie theaters. We’ll still be having our gathering at 6, so invite someone.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Field Trip Anyone?

I used to love field trips when I was a kid. Didn't you?

Over the next few months I want us to take some field trips to see some church plants around the southeast. One that I would like us to visit is Oak Leaf Church. You can check out this Sundays @ Oak Leaf video.

Stay tuned and come Sunday for more info.

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Exegeting our community

As I shared a few weeks ago, we need to ask the right questions of the right people in order to be missionaries to our community. The goal is to do some surveying to discover the needs, dreams, and stressors of people in Spartanburg county. If can discover who they are and what they are like, then we can know best how to show them who God is and what He is like.

Janae O'Shields hooked us up with an online version of the survey. Here's what I need you to do. Send this link to your unchurched friends/family/acquaintances/coworkers who live in Spartanburg County and ask them to fill it out. It's totally anonymous. Thanks for your help.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Disappointed

I'm just going to come out and say it. I am disappointed with Lost this season. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere. They don't leave you hungry anymore. They just leave you frustrated. I'm going to keep watching for a while, but if things keep going like they've been the past two weeks I may not make it the entire 16 week season.

I'm also disappointed with my Tigers. We can't seem to pull out the close games.

On an up note, I read a great post today from Ken about some comments Erwin McManus made the other day. It's worth your time. Erwin is a prophet. I have a lot of respect for the guy.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good growth vs. Bad growth

Did you know that not all growth is good? Deep down you know this. We see it all the time. It’s good for my boys to grow. They are supposed to grow. If they don’t grow then there’s a problem.

On the other hand, if I were to start growing it would not be a good thing because my growth would probably come around the waist. This kind of growth can result in all kinds of problems. I don’t want to grow anymore. Growth for me would be bad growth.

The same thing is true in churches. A growing church is not always a good thing.

WHAT??? ARE YOU NUTS???

Well, probably, but that’s not the point. Here’s what I’m talking about. I want The Point to grow. I believe God wants The Point to grow. In fact, we are going to grow. But I want us to have good growth. Good growth comes from unchurched people, dechurched people, and people who are far away from God. Bad growth comes when we get Christians from other churches coming because we’re the new cool church in town.

So, how do we experience good growth? It’s called invest and invite. We invest in relationships with people who are far away from God and invite them to a relevant environment where they can safely explore what faith in Jesus is all about (our Sunday Gathering is our entry point environment that we want you to invite your friends to).

My prayer is that God will use The Point to make disciples of people who are far away from God (we’ll be discussing what it means to be a disciple in a few weeks). I so much want for us to experience good growth – the kind that makes our Heavenly Father happy – the kind that sees lives changed.

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Do you know what today is?

Happy Valentines Day!

I just want everyone who reads this blog to know that I have the greatest wife in the world. I love her more than I can describe with words. She is a gift to me from God. God has used her to help me be more like Jesus. She's my valentine! Liz, I love you.

I've already given my wife a gift, but I've got something for you too!

Here's the first chapter of Rob Bell's new book Sex God. Take 10 minutes and read it. It is worth your time.

Here's a Q & A you need to read from Tim.

Whose responsibility is Spiritual Growth?

Thanks to Tony Morgan for putting me onto this blog from Tim Stevens. Tim says the following came out of a Q & A with Bill Hybels: "The goal, Bill says (and I agree), is to slowly make believers independent. We (as a church) should focus our attention on introducing people to Christ, and then helping them grow to a certain point. After that--they should feed themselves and focus on helping the church introduce more people to Christ."


That's what I want us to do at The Point. I want us to teach people how to teach themselves. Think about it. Is it the church's responsibility to help me as a Pastor grow spiritually? I've got to feed myself. I've got to know how to study Scripture on my own. I've got to know how to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). I've got to pursue intimacy with my Heavenly Father. I've got so submit to God's Authority. I've got to submit to the authority of the Bible. I've got to learn obedience. If it's that way for me, then it should be that way for each believer?

The question now is, how do we move people to that spot? Are you there? If so, what are you doing to move someone else there?

I know there's more that can be said about this. But if there's a five year old who doesn't know how to feed themselves then there's a problem. The same is true for Christ followers. How have you been eating lately?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Practicing Greatness book review

I really enjoyed Reggie McNeal’s book, Practicing Greatness. It’s a book on 7 disciplines of extraordinary spiritual leaders. I’m not extraordinary, so I thought reading this book might help me out! Two parts of the book had the most impact on me. First is the section where he talks about how do deal with failure. There’s good stuff there. It’s worth the price of the book just for this section. Second is this statement,

The prayer life of a great spiritual leaders is oftentimes centered on asking God to help them understand what is happening around them. Contrast this to a typical approach to prayer that informs God about what is going on and then asks for his help or intervention. Great spiritual leaders have God’s view of the situation. This enables them to partner with him in bringing about the future God desires. This powerful prayer life is not accidental. It requires a commitment and discipline on the part of the leader to listen in prayer, not just talk.

That’s good stuff!

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Some Pics from the Superbowl Party



Sunday night reflections 2-11-07

I got a little teary eyed yesterday evening. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows how much I enjoy music…especially live music. It has always been my dream and prayer that God would allow us to have a great band leading our worship. As Mitch, Will and Jimmy played their acoustic, unplugged worship set I was blown away. I think Chris Blackwell said it best (with hand-motions): Our worship was here (his hand being at waist height), and now it’s here (his hand being at nose height). Thanks guys for being an answer to prayer, for being Dream-Enablers for me, and for being willing to use your gifts to help us plant a new kind of church.

We had some key people out, but had others step up and fill the gaps. A big shout out to William for his willingness to step in and fill a need.

I’ve heard that people are inviting people… KEEP IT UP! That is awesome! It was great to have some new faces with us last night. One new woman told me she wanted to come back next week and bring her sister who doesn’t go to church anywhere. That’s what I’m talking about.

After a great worship set we continued our talk through Nehemiah by looking at Nehemiah 2:16-20. We know that God has a dream for each one of us, but in the pursuit of God’s dream we usually run into, or become one of four characters: Dream-casters, Dream-chasers, Dream-enablers or Dream-killers. The key is to recognize which is which and respond accordingly. The big key is to know who the Dream-killers are because they have the potential to derail your dreams. The way to silence Dream-killers is to:

- Remember the source of the dream: God.

- Get to work turning the dream into reality.

- Speak the truth to those who are Dream-killers. We'll be following up on this this coming Sunday.

The recording of the message didn’t work, but if you would like a transcript please let me know and I’ll e-mail one your way.

Overall, thanks be to God for a good day and for the privilege of working with Him to build his kingdom.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

John Mayer concert review

The show was a lot of fun. Females outnumbered males in the audiance 3-1, which is not surprising...it was John Mayer. I had no idea what a great musician he is. His acoustic version of Your Body is a Wonderland, and one other song which I did not know, were phenomenal.

I have a few observations that relate to church stuff. One, before the concert began there was a buzz of excitement in the air. What if we had that buzz before each worship gathering at church? What if people came with that amount of exitement? How can we create an environment where that is a reality?

Two, music is a great unifier. I know that sounds strange when you think about the worship wars that are going on in so many churches, but outside of the church, the outsiders, the unchurched... they could care less about those wars. There were high school students, bald men, single women, couples and mid-lifers all jamming (some with some really sweet moves) to John Mayer. This just speaks to the power of music and why we, at The Point, need an incredible band.

Three, even though the show was great, I left with an overwhelming sense of sadness. Not that I'm there yet, but I have been praying to have a heart like our heavenly father... a heart that breaks for those who are far away from him. My heart broke for John Mayer. My heart broke for the thousands of people at the Colonial Center who were separated from the God who created them and is for them. How can we connect those people with the God who sent his son to die for us? That's my question to God this morning.

The best part of the evening was the time I had with Liz. I love hanging out with my wife. On the way home we jammed to old school Caedmon's Call and Big Tent Revival. It reminded us of a vacation we took to Yellowstone before we had kids. Dates are awesome!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In Concert...John Mayer

Tonight Liz gets her Christmas present. For Christmas I got her tickets to see John Mayer in concert. I'm pretty pumped. It's sad, but I think this is the first secular concert I've been to since seeing Kenny Rogers as a kid. That is a depressing thought.

I can't wait to spend an evening with my wonderful wife. She has to put up with a lot being married to a church planter. This has been a rough journey so far, but tonight, the in-laws are keeping the kids, so we get to go out to an uninterrupted dinner (I think we're hitting Carrabba's) and then it's off to the concert.

The only bummer is that the concert is at USC. I have to venture into enemy territory to have some fun with my wife. What's up with that? I'll let you know how the show was tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I LOVE small group

We’ve rearranged small groups again for the month of January. I had 8 people (besides my family) over last night for chili and a Bible Study. It was a blast. I really appreciate Sarah getting our discussion really going by admitting how hard it is to forgive others as God has forgiven us (We were discussing Colossians 3:12-14). Thanks Sarah for your honesty and for being vulnerable.

That’s what makes small groups work: Honesty and vulnerability. So often we put on a mask and nobody really knows who we are or what’s going on in our lives. But authentic Christian community is mask-less. We are to love as Christ loves us, accept as Christ accepts us, forgive as Christ forgives us, and encourage as Christ encourages us.

If you’re not involved in a small group then you are missing out! Let me know and we’ll get you hooked up. I can’t wait for nest Tuesday night. My group’s meeting at the Blackwell’s. They are great hosts (the bacon Michelle puts out to go on a salad is good stuff—it makes the salad). I can’t wait!

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Prayer Walk/Drive observations

I promised some observations from our Prayer Walk/Drive on Sunday AM, so here they are:

  • There were lots of people out walking in Converse Heights at 11 AM on Sunday morning. Parents had their kids at the playground. Folks were getting exercise. Neighbors were talking. But, they weren’t at church!
  • The Westgate Mall area is a destination. Spartanburg Regional is the county’s biggest employer. Downtown is packed with professionals during lunchtime Monday through Friday. (These aren’t really new observations, but they lead to some questions which I will share in a minute.)
  • No college students were seen on Wofford, Converse or USC Upstate’s campus at 11 AM.
  • Even subdivisions seem to be racially divided.
  • At 11 AM the parking lots of Publix, Walmart and Fire Mountain are PACKED!

These observations lead me to some questions:

  • How can we maximize Spartanburg’s Destination of the Westgate Mall area? Should The Point have a venue there? If so, where, how and when?
  • How can we take advantage of where people gather? What giveaways could we do during lunchtime downtown?
  • How can we make our gathering more desirable than Publix, Walmart and Fire Mountain?

Prayer Walking/Driving is more than just talking to God. It’s listening. It’s observing. It’s crafting out some space to hear from God on behalf of the people we are trying to reach. We’ve made some observations. We’ve got some questions. Do you have any suggestions?

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

For Meditation

I just came across this verse and thought it worthy of meditation. I have set the LORD always before me (Psalm 16:8).

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Dream-caster, Dream-chaser, Dream-enabler, or Dream-Killer?

I’ve been working on this Sunday’s sermon this morning and can’t wait to see how it develops. Here’s what I’ve been mulling over out of Nehemiah 2:16-20.

Each of us has a dream for our lives. Some dreams are small, some are huge, some are outlandish, some are personal, some are private. But, even more important than your dreams for your life is God’s dream for your life. Did you know that God has a dream for your life? He has a dream for every aspect of your life: Finances, family, relationships, job, health…the list could go on for a while.

Responding to each of the dreams that we have are four types of people: Dream-Casters, Dream-Chasers, Dream-Enablers and Dream-Killers. This leads to some questions: Which am I? Who in my life is in each category? Who am I listening to? How should I respond to each (especially Dream-Killers)?

We will be discussing these and other questions this week at The Point. You NEED to be there and you NEED to bring some people with you. I promise it will be worth your, and their, time.

I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts about this. Please comment.

PS If you've got some extra time check out these two posts: here and here.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Me, a missionary???

My passion is that each one of us would see ourselves as missionaries to Spartanburg. This is where God has put us. We are were we are on purpose, for a purpose. So that begs the question: Who are you influencing towards Jesus? Who in your circle of influence are you investing in relationally with the goal of them one day (hopefully soon) becoming a follower, a disciple, of Jesus?

My passion is that God will use The Point to reach people. Well, you are The Point. You are our body. You are our marketing. You are our outreach program. You're it! No pressure, just fact.

Now that you know that you're it, what are you going to do about it? Who can you bring with you this week? Who are you developing a relationship with so that you can invite them in a month? God wants to use you. Each encounter you have with another person is an opportunity. Be intentional. You are where you are on purpose, for a purpose.

Jonathan Herron had a great post that relates to this here. Check it out.

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Sunday night reflections

Can we say eventful???

That is the word that I would use to describe our Super Bowl Party. The Colts won (which was good). We laughed at some of the commercials. There was plenty of food. We had some new folks that were invited by our regulars (KEEP INVITING!). We had a drug addict show up, steal some stuff, had to call the cops, another drug addict showed up, I thought I might get beat up...eventful. Ah...the joys of meeting where we're meeting, when we're meeting.

Kudos to Scott, Susan and Janae who handled the theft and ensuing drama with much grace and courage. They really kept their cool in a tense situation. I've never had to call the cops out to church before. Oh well, anybody who says coming to church is boring just needs to hang out with us for a while!

We need to see about getting a police officer to come hang out around the building.

We also had a group go out Prayer Driving yesterday morning. We were going to Prayer Walk, but the windchill was below freezing and we're a bunch of wimps! God used that to open our eyes to some unique observations. I'll be sharing more about those observations in a later post.

I want to go ahead and tell you that I am looking forward to this coming Sunday. It would be a great day to invite folks. We're going to have an acoustic band!!! I'm going to be talking about how we respond to the rollercoaster-ride of following Jesus. You are going to want to be there, and you know someone who needs to be there. Who can you bring with you to The Point on Sunday?

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Review of The Blogging Church


I really can’t say enough good things about The Blogging Church, by Brian Bailey. This book has opened up a whole new world to me. I was already blogging and reading some blogs, but this book allowed me to take my blogging experience to a different level.

The book is easy to read. It is practical. It is convincing. It is well thought out. Church leaders who care about communication and authenticity would do well to read the book. Personally, I can’t wait to see how the blog I’ve created ends up being used by God to build the kingdom.

My only critique would be that the book was not as detailed in some of its instructions as I would have liked for it to have been. This is probably a result of my own technological dysfunction. And even with that critique I still learned more than I thought I would. I say that this is a must read book for church leaders of our day.

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A blog you should read

If there are any church planters out there reading this blog, then you need to check out Devin Hudson's blog graceisthepoint. He's been sharing the story of their Church Planting adventure in Las Vegas and what he's learned through the process. He's a great thinker and writer. It will be well worth your time.

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Sunday @ The Point

Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some food? This Sunday we're having a Super Bowl Party at The Point. We'll be showing the game on the big screen, and we'll have lots of food to munch on. If you're not a football fan you have no need to worry. We'll have lots of games to play and you can still eat the food! I am looking forward to hanging out with our church. It should be fun. Bring a friend, and go Colts!

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What makes me sad

When I woke up this morning I was sad. The snow, for the most part, had melted. Yesterday when I woke up and looked out the window I had this child-like enthusiasm run through my blood. Waking up to snow on the ground is so cool, and since the last time it snowed here in upstate SC was March of 2005, yesterday's snow was really cool. My boys got to sled, eat snow and throw snowballs. But today the snow has disappeared. Boo, Hoo. Oh well, maybe we'll see the white stuff sometime again in 2009.