Thursday, September 27, 2007

Perceptions of Christianity

I heard about this book last spring at the Q conference and I can't wait for it to come out. I think it's true that Christians in America have an image problem. When you think about what we're known for it's stands in stark contrast to Jesus' words that "They will know that you are my disciples by the love you have for one another." Heck, we can't even love our fellow Christians, let alone those people around us who aren't Christians yet. I'm excited to see what conversations this book is going to spark and hope to see a change in perception that comes from those conversations.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Steph's crazy puppy

Can anyone say, "We need puppy school"? Who needs David Copperfield when you can just chew your way through the door? Maybe Steph and Chris (my sister-in-law and brother-in-law) aren't feeding the fellow enough!

I just thought this was a funny photo that needed to be shared. What would you do if this was your puppy's fault?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What if?

I was reading in Ezra this morning and came across Ezra 6 and it got my imagination going. In Ezra 6 we find King Darius endorsing, funding and protecting the rebuilding of the God's temple in Jerusalem. Get this... Darius is a Persian, pagan king who endorses, funds and protects a Jewish, God-project.

I started dreaming when I read this. What if the secular city officials of any given town/city sought after someone to plant a church in their city and then decided to fund and endorse the church plant? I know this is really unheard of and could be the source of endless court battles and constitutional discussions, but what if God touched the hearts of the secular officials in an area in such a way that they would partner with God's people to build the Kingdom?

I know organizations like World Changers, Habitat for Humanity and others do this, but what if it happened with a church plant... and what if it happened here in Spartanburg?

Who knows, I'm just dreaming, but that would surely be an amazing God-thing to be involved with, don't you think?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend Reflections

This past weekend was a full one for us. Here's the breakdown:
  • I coached my first soccer game. Actually, I'm not sure you would call it coaching. It was a mix of laughter, chaos and encouragement. It's such a blast coaching Nathan's team of first and second graders. We scored one goal. The other team scored three goals. But this is Upward, where every child is a winner, so we didn't really lose!
  • Got to watch Clemson take out NC State 42 to 20. It really should have been 70 to 20. We looked good. Now if we can take that same intensity and skill into Georgia Tech on Saturday (there's a chance I'll get to watch the game in HD on a 60 inch screen).
  • I finally got around to cutting my grass Saturday afternoon. I'm sure my neighbors are happy. To bad most of my yard is dead. We need rain.
  • Levi was sick all weekend with a bad cold and fever. Poor guy. He doesn't understand why he feels bad and is just pitiful.
  • Speaking at SCC yesterday went great, at least that's what people said. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak and help Hub out. I think you can listen online here.
Now it's off to start a new week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

quote

Boy, do I resonate with this: I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show Himself mightily on our behalf. I didn’t want merely to mark time. I longed and cried out for God to change everything - me, the church, our passion for people, our praying. One day I told the Lord that I would rather die than merely tread water throughout my career in the ministry... always preaching about the power of the Word and the Spirit, but never seeing it. I abhorred the thought of just having more church services. I hungered for God to break through in our lives and ministry.” - Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off to Roebuck

I have the privilege of speaking at Roebuck Baptist Church in two hours. I'm going to showing some statistics about the state of the church in America and the problem therein, and then presenting a solution of investing in the Kingdom. It should be fun. I put on Khaki's. I feel like I'm dressed for a wedding!

You've got to read this blog. Out of all the blogs I regularly read, Vince Antonucci is the one that's connecting with me and speaking to me the most.

Someone paid for my lunch today. DJ Horton, pastor of Anderson Mill Rd. Baptist Church took me to lunch. I'm really excited about what God is doing at Anderson Mill and his vision for churches planting churches. Thanks for the lunch!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Statistics

I know that we can make statistics say whatever we want them to say, but I still love statistics. They can show us a lot.

Here's something I just came across in preparing to speak at Roebuck Baptist Church tomorrow night about church planting and the state missions offering.

South Carolina had a population of 4,198,068 in 2004.
New studies show that only 23% of SC's population is in church on any given weekend.
That means that there are 3,463,406 people in SC who are NOT in church on any given weekend.

My question is: How many churches do we need to start to reach those people? And, what do our existing churches need to do to reach those people? Sounds to me like we need to stop arguing and fighting amongst ourselves (as Christians) and start getting after the people that God cares about the most.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More speaking

I just got a call asking me to speak at FCA at Wofford on Monday night. I am so thankful for the speaking opportunities God is sending my way. It's an honor to be invited to speak at different venues and it's great for me to be able to do what I feel like I'm gifted to do while our church plant is in a time of transition.

Now I've got to figure out what to talk about... and should I wear a Clemson shirt to Wofford?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm listening

Today's just one of those days when I feel an overwhelming need, a burden to hear from God. Do you ever feel like that? It's really a desperation that comes from deep within. So I'm trying to listen. If you've got a moment, please pray that God will speak and that I will hear. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Systems

Yesterday I spend all day in a group with Glenn Smith learning about creating systems for a church. This post is just a way for me to process what I learned and to maybe get some of you thinking about systems. I'll warn you that this is going to be a long post.

As a church planter I've believed the lie that in order for things to get done (or for things to get done well) I need to do them. This is an easy lie to believe because when things start I end up playing the role of technician -- one in which I end up doing all the work. But I have to learn how to engage others in doing the work and delegate (not abdicate). The goal is to be a strategic leader who creates jobs, spends more time working on the ministry than working in the ministry and who creates and manages critical systems in the church.

The problem is that most pastors/church planters, including myself, are the system. We need to move away from being the system toward developing systems and then leveraging those systems.

The three critical systems that a church needs are an assimilation system, a spiritual formation system and a leadership development system.

An assimilation system works to move persons who are far away from God to a place where they are relationally connected to two or more attenders and towards a role where they are making a meaningful contribution to the larger group.

A spiritual formation system works to take the person who is relationally and meaningfully connected and move them from where they are to faith n Jesus and then to being a reproducing missional disciple (I hope to write more on what a reproducing missional disciple is later). This spiritual formation typically involves three factors: A meaningful relationship with one or more Christ-followers that leads to internal processing and accountability, an interactive relationship with God, and an engaging of the person's natural talents/abilities in service to others in order to accomplish God's kingdom purposes.

A leadership development system involves creating a leadership pipeline that develops leaders over a lifetime. I need to think about and process this a bit more. It was the most confusing of the systems, probably because I've never been a part of anything like it (unfortunately).

Now that I've shared these I want to get to work creating some systems so that, whatever happens with The Point or with a new church plant, that we'll have some systems in place to assimilate people into the body, grow them into reproducing missional disciples and develop leaders.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunago


I'm pretty pumped about speaking at Sunago this coming Thursday. Tracy has done an incredible job creating a relevant gathering for college students in Spartanburg and it's an honor to be invited to speak.

Time's, they are a changin'

Boy, it's been a long time since I last blogged. I was beginning to think I fell off the face of the planet. I know you've each been waiting anxiously for a new post.

A lot has happened over the past week. Clemson beat FSU for the fourth time in five years, then 5 days later whooped up on LA-Monroe. Matthew went to the game with me on Saturday. It was great spending some time with him. He ate more candy in three hours than he has in three months, but he had fun! USC beat UGA... who would have thunk it?

The Point has moved into a time of retreat and restructuring. I would appreciate your prayers for me and the wonderfully amazing people that are a part of The Point. God's teaching all of us some stuff right now. Maybe when I've worked through some of it I'll post some more. Last night we looked at this passage in Hebrews. It has a lot to say to us right now. Some more changes will be coming soon, but it's too early to go there.

I've read some books on grief and grieving. I've never really thought about this, but life is filled with losses. Some are small, some are big, some involve death, some involve relationships, some involve dreams, some involve stuff... but with all loss comes some form of grieving. I think it would be fair to say that I've been in a state of grief now for the past few months... lost relationships, unmet expectations, the death of some dreams... each of these have left me, and Liz and really our church, in a state of grief. We don't want to sweep the grief under the carpet as if it doesn't exist, but my desire is to work through the grief, so that on the other side we emerge more mature and more like Jesus. Thus, the reading of the books on grief. If you know of any good books you'd recommend then post a comment. I'm learning some good stuff.

I'll end by sharing a link to a post I read on vision. I can relate to this.

Monday, September 03, 2007

8 hours, 36 minutes, 13 seconds

Can anyone say Clemson Football. We leave for the game in three hours 37 minutes. GO TIGERS!