Monday, February 28, 2011

Values and Purpose

It's my habit to make the most of my time at the gym by reading a book. I usually like to read business/management books while at the gym. I'm not sure why a physical workout goes hand in hand with business and leadership principles, but hey, it works for me.

Right now I'm reading Jim Collins' book Built to Last. Today I read about how visionary companies have core values and a purpose that they stick to when things are good, when things are bad, when they're making money, when it seems the wheels are falling off.

It got me thinking about Hub City's purpose and core values. I thought I'd share them and then would love to get your input.

Purpose: We exist to make disciples who make disciples. This will never change. It's what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28:18-20.

Core Values: People, Biblical Authority, Grace. I could probably include more, but those are the essential, non-negotiable core values. I'll explain them:
  • People: We value all people because God values all people. Going hand in hand with this is relationships, because you can't really value people that you don't know.
  • Biblical Authority: We believe the Bible is true and that we should submit our lives to it's authority.
  • Grace: There's so much to say about grace. It's the one thing that all of us want more than anything. Going hand in hand with grace is acceptance. We want to out-accept the world. Jesus did that.
So now it's your turn. What are your thoughts? This is who I want us to be. It's who I think we are. What do you think?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Plan B

I need to begin by saying that Plan B is a good book. I think there are many people who need this book. In fact, I plan on recommending it to someone this weekend. For me, however, it was too long. I had trouble getting into the book and staying engaged with it. I hate to say that because I think it's a book that a lot of people need to read, but I just want to be honest. (Can you tell I don't like saying negative things about books?)

The best thing I can say about this book is that it offers hope. Hope is one of the things that's lacking in so many people's lives. We need hope. It's found in trusting Jesus.

I'd recommend you read the book and let me know your thoughts.

Tough Subject

This Sunday we're finishing up our Relationships 101 series by talking about one of the toughest topics I've ever spoken on: Divorce. There is so much emotion and baggage that's tied to this subject. I'll be honest, I'm a bit nervous. That's why I'm just focussing on what Jesus said about the topic in Mark 10.

I'd appreciate you praying for me and for Hub City. Pray that God will bring healing and hope. Pray that God will strengthen marriages. Pray that I'll say what he wants me to say.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

What I learned today

This morning I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Bishop Augustin Ahimana. He's from Rwanda and is in town at the invitation of All Saint's Church. I am so thankful for Charlie, All Saint's pastor, for inviting me and Hub City to be a part of Augustin's visit.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Rwandan history, but in 1994 there was a genocide that resulted in over a million Rwandans being killed in 100 days. It's horrific.

Augustin's family were a part of those who were killed. His current wife's first husband was murdered. His first wife died of a brain tumor. He has 11 children, three of whom are children they've adopted who lost parents during the genocide. He lived as a refugee in Congo because he was discriminated against and not allowed to get an education beyond elementary school. His life experiences qualify him to teach me, and you, some things.

Here are a number of learnings and observations from my time with the bishop.
  • He talked about seeing the hand of God at work in restoring and reconciling Rwanda. One of the most powerful evidences of the hand of God is the forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation that is happening. Parents are going to visit the murderers in prison who have killed their children and they telling them that now they are their children. Women are marrying the men who killed their husbands because of the forgiveness that's taken place. And we get mad when someone gets our order wrong at Burger King.
  • He shared how the church was complicit, and in some ways responsible, for the genocide. People would run into sanctuaries for shelter and church leaders would allow them to be killed. Some of the church leaders were the ones doing the killings. As a result, the church lost all credibility. After the genocide the church (all churches, no matter what denomination) came together and publicly repented and apologized for their role. This opened the door for the church to gain back credibility and become a force for healing and reconciliation. It makes me wonder what we, as the American church, needs to apologize for.
  • He mentioned how we're really good at building our little kingdoms, our little churches, at the expense of working together to build The Kingdom of God. Theological differences don’t matter. Methodological differences don’t matter. What matters is that people are broken and sinful. They need salvation. Salvation comes from Jesus. Healing comes from the gospel of Jesus. I don't want to waste my time building my little kingdom. This was very convicting to me. What we are a part of is way bigger than our individual churches. May God break us in this area.
  • Having lost so many family members and seen such injustice I sensed absolutely no bitterness towards those responsible for the genocide. None. It was unbelievable. Afterwards, Charlie said that we have no joy because we won't forgive. That is so true.
  • Finally, Augustin mentioned that Jesus is his life. I wonder how many of us could say the same thing? We substitute so many other things for life. We need Jesus.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Act first. Feel later.

As you are undoubtedly aware, yesterday was Valentines Day. Now, you either hate the day or love the day. Me, it's a fun time to celebrate the love I have for Liz.

And yesterday I did good. Personally, I think I did real good. I got Liz 2 dozen roses (thanks to Whole Food's super great special) and cooked a nice supper for her and the kids (a new shrimp creole recipe that we will definitely make again... also thanks to Whole Foods for having their jumbo shrimp on special). After both of those things I felt so in love with Liz.

It's not that I wasn't in love with her before. There's just something about doing loving things that leads to loving feelings.

This reminded me of something that fits right along with this Relationships 101 series that we're doing at Hub City. Most of the time we act loving only when we feel loving. But that's the wrong order. Feelings come and go. They can't be trusted. But something happens emotionally when we do something loving for our spouse. Loving feelings come.

So here's my challenge. Do something loving for your spouse whether you feel like it or not. It will improve your relationship.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Problem

Problems are good. Problems are opportunities. We want problems because problems cause us to improve, get creative, think bigger, depend on God and find a solution.

We've got a problem at Hub City. Actually, I'm sure we've got a ton of problems. We're no where close to perfect. But this is a big problem that's been consuming my thoughts lately. It is a problem that we can fix. Here it is:

First time guests aren't coming back.

Did you know, that over the past year we've had so many first time guests, that if just 50% of them would have moved from first time guest to members of the Hub City family then we'd have doubled in size (actually, we'd probably be more than doubled)?

Let me be clear, this isn't about size. This is about us doing our part to be good stewards of the people God sends us. Most of these first time guests aren't a part of a church anywhere, so we're not stealing folks from other churches. These are people who need to be a part of a church where they can be discipled. We have a responsibility to do our part to get them involved and connected.

Having someone move from a first time guest to a part of the Hub City family requires threethings: God needs to do his part, we need to do our part, and they need to be open to doing their part (coming back, getting involved, etc.). We can't do God's part and we can't do their part. But we had better be doing our part.

I think we can get better at our part. That's where you come in. I'd like your input. What ideas do you have for turning first time attenders into members of the Hub City family? I seriously want to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

LINE-UP Principle

I just read something really good. It addresses a specific problem that we're dealing with at Hub City. I'll post about that problem later, but first, check this out. It's called the LINE-UP principle. It's a plan/system for being intentional to reaching out to and connecting with new people. It's also a great way to develop new relationships. Let me know your thoughts.

LOOK for someone you don’t know.
Every time you come to church, instead of concentrating on your friends, make it your goal to extend God’s love to someone you don’t know. What do you do when you find someone you don’t know…?

INTRODUCE yourself.
“Hi, my name is ______________. Have we met before?” (If not, “Nice to meet you.”) Once you’ve introduced yourself, ask the other person questions. We all love to hear ourselves talk, so let the other person talk.

NEVER sit alone.
This is the Eleventh Commandment. We talk about "relationships" and “Community” often, and in order to be in community, we ought to sit together. So once you’ve introduced yourself, say, “I’m going into the theater now. Can I invite you to sit with me?”

ENGAGE in conversation.
Before the worship service you’ll meet some people around you. Once the church service is over, engage them in conversation (once again, by asking questions, not by talking about yourself.)

USE Hub Groups.
Everyone wants to be in relationships, but they don't know where to go or how to get connected, or if they do, they are usually a bit apprehensive. So once you’ve engaged in conversation, say, “Hey, I'm in a Hub Group that meets __________. I’d like to invite you to be my guest. It’s free, it's fun, it's been impactful in my life. You'll get to know some other folks too.”

PRACTICE the 3/10 Rule.
The 3/10 Rule is, talk with three people you don’t know during the first ten minutes after the service. Most of us want to talk with our friends, but if our friends have been coming for awhile, they’ll still be here ten minutes after church. Whereas all newcomers will be gone in the first ten minutes unless someone engages them in conversation.

Personally, I think this is great. It's a great reminder. It's something that I want all Hub City folks to be doing. It will help us be the most accepting and loving group around.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Redefining God

I thought I'd pass along something from David Platt. I hope it makes you think a bit on this Monday.
Across the country the “faithful” quote, unquote “are redefining God, dissatisfied with conventional images of an authoritarian or paternalistic deity. People are embracing quirky, individualistic conceptions of God to suit their own spiritual needs.” We say “Yes. That is what the culture is doing. No, it’s what the church is doing. We have this dangerous tendency today to create God, redefine God, to be what he want him to be. And really we create a God who looks a lot like us. He’s a nice, middle-class American God. And he looks like us and he thinks like us and he’s comfortable with our lifestyles. He’s comfortable with our self-saturated lukewarm faith. He’s comfortable with our apathy. He’s comfortable with half-hearted devotion to him. He’s comfortable with materialistic indulgences. He’s comfortable with all those things because we are. And we fashion a God who looks a lot like us. Don’t miss the danger here. If this is the case then when we gather together in this room every Sunday or the church that you are a part of, gather together for worship, and you sing songs and you lift your hands out to God, this God that you’ve created, the reality is you’re not worshiping God. You’re worshiping yourselves. And even when we are known as a people who worship in the church the reality is the object of our worship has been grossly mis-defined.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Don't miss it

Relationships. They are a part of all of our lives. They are a gift from God... well, sometimes. Othertimes they seem to be a curse. But what if we could actively do something that would improve our relationships? That's what we're going to talk about for the next four weeks at Hub City Church. Don't miss it.