Posts Tagged ‘Church’

A little over a year ago, my good friend Matt Nelson, his lead team, and their families launched City Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am proud to say that NORTHchurch helped launch this church.

Check out what all God has done in one year through this awesome church…

Here is the video of the service opener for North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia from December 19, 2010 called “Santa Went Down to Georgia.”

One of the coolest, most creative openers that I have ever seen.

Enjoy…

This weekend Heather and I were privileged to go back to Sulphur Springs, Texas. I had the opportunity to preach Sunday at the Shannon Oaks Church, where I was student pastor for 5 years (2004-2009).

It was amazing being back with that church family that holds a very special place in our hearts. We got to catch up with a lot of great people. Our weekend was full of hugging necks of people we lived life with, catching up with people that partnered up with us in ministry, and getting updates from students that I had the privilege to lead during our 5 years there.

The weekend felt like a big family reunion. Truly special.

When Heather and I made the decision to become the student pastor at NORTHchurch, our number one prayer was for a smooth transition. To transition from one church with the love, honor, and respect that it deserved and to transition to another church with the energy, excitement, and focus that it deserved.

Our heart’s desire was to teach truth throughout our transition: to follow after God, no matter what or where that may take you. We wanted to make sure the ministry that we poured so much of ourselves into for 5 years was in good hands for the future. We wanted to allow time for tears, remembrance, and celebration. Finally, we wanted to leave for a blessing.

God answered those prayers.

I love that I still have an amazing relationship with the Shannon Oaks Church, while being fully committed and focused at NORTHchurch.

But I know that is rare. I am very aware that healthy transition is too often considered a pie in the sky dream. I have seen pastors get chewed up and spit out by churches; I have seen pastors coldly hurt and abandon churches; and everything in between. I have seen firings, resignations, moral failures, accepting another ministry job, and leaving ministry altogether.

The question I find myself today is why? Why is healthy transition in ministry so difficult? Is the answer simply because people are imperfect? That seems like a cop out. Is the answer that people are hesitant and naturally oppose change, especially if the thing that is changing is good? Possibly.

I’m just saying that a place (the church) that is filled with so much love and understanding combined with anointed, godly men and women with gifts of communication should be able to transition healthily.

I know it is possible. I have experienced healthy transition that was communicated with love, timing, thanks, teaching, vision, and hope. I want more of my partners in ministry and their churches to experience this healthy transition.

It is time that healthy transition becomes the norm, not the exception.

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Thoughts? Why is healthy transition in ministry so difficult?

(Artwork entitled “Transitions” by Sanaye)

Western culture has set up a progress-based system for advancing toward God.

Let me explain. For a long time Christians have been taught a three-step approach to God. It starts with belief. Essentially, if you believe the right things, it will lead to a change in behavior. When you have changed your behavior, you will be accepted by the church. Believe, Behave, Belong.

If you believe this way, you will behave this way, and if you behave this way, you can belong here. This is preached, modeled, and affirmed in thousands of churches across America.

It’s time to flip this. The Jesus of scripture reached out and loved people regardless of where they were. It is essential to show people that they can belong in your world even if they don’t act, think, behave, or believe like you.

Imagine a church or community where Jesus was communicated in such a way that everyone belonged. They were included. And from this feeling of belonging, over time the message of Jesus made an impact on their belief. And from that newfound fullness of God, their behavior changed. (Belong, Believe, Behave.)

If this practice won out over religious dogma, rooted in rules and regulations, more people would find hope in the authentic Christ.

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from “Jesus Loves You this I know” by Craig Gross and Jason Harper

The local church is the hope of the world.

There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.

Still to this day, the potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.

~ from Bill Hybels’ Courageous Leadership

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Thoughts?

Church Sign War

Posted: August 21, 2009 in Dogs, Funny, Life, Random
Tags: , , , , , ,

These are apparently two churches that are right across the street from each other…

churchsignwar

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Gaby and Kate are greatly offended…

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Christian youth are leaving the church at an alarming rate after high school. Different organizations have done studies to prove this fact. Some studies say 3 out of 4 (75%) Christian teens walk away from the church after they leave home, while others say 88% of evangelical children leave the church after high school. No matter what research you read, the message is loud and clear – Christian teens are leaving the church at an alarming rate after high school.

As I begin to process this incredibly tough information, I keep asking myself this question: HOW DO SPORTS TEAMS SUCCEED WHERE THE CHURCH OFTEN FAILS?

You see, many people are completely committed and sold out to certain professional or college sports teams by the time they leave high school. Some are die hard fans to a team because their parents ingrained that inside of them from birth. Some maybe are sold out of a team because of the area of the country they live in or the college they go to. Others are committed to a team because of a cherished childhood memory or experience.

For whatever the reason, people are sold out and committed to their sports teams and will not dare to even consider changing. They will continue to wear the tshirts, buy the tickets, and spend the time to be a true fan. To ask them to change that would be considered blasphemy.

As a full-time student pastor for the past 5+ years, I have seen a lot of students graduate from my youth group and leave the church. It breaks my heart. However, those same students who leave the church are just as committed (if not more committed) to their favorite professional or college sports teams. People seem more likely to drop their faith and identity in Christ rather than their willingness to drop their identity as a Boston Red Sox, Dallas Cowboys, or University of Oklahoma fan.

Why? Why would someone be more willing to drop their faith than their allegiance to a sports team? Why is the church loosing the same teenagers that are loyal, committed, and sold out to their favorite sports team?

How do sports teams succeed where the church often fails?

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Thoughts?

Listening to a podcast recently, I heard this quote:

“What you make optional in life, you will eventually stop doing.”

I have not been able to shake this quote since hearing it. It has me thinking. Over and over again I have been asking myself, “Is this quote true?”

After thinking long and hard about that question, I have come to believe that the answer is yes. Let’s think about this…

For example, let’s take a look at my upcoming marathon on Saturday, February 28th. As of today, I have been training for 20 weeks for this race. Because training has been optional, there have been many times when I have made excuses to cut corners or simply stop running – a tight hamstring, no energy, not enough sleep, bad weather, stomach problems, etc. It has been a weekly battle to keep waking up and pounding the pavement. However, something changed last Friday…I officially registered for the marathon. Now training is not optional. I have broken down and paid the entrance fee and there is no turning back. When the alarm goes off this Friday morning for the dreaded 20-mile training run, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be ready to run. It does not matter what the situation, I will running because now it is not optional.

Let’s take a look at another example…

What about church? Is church optional for you and your family? Being involved and working full-time for a church, I have seen many people where church is optional. When something is not easy or convenient - staff member change, leadership disagreement, a shift in direction of a ministry, etc – I have seen way too many people walk away from the church. It became optional. If church is optional for you, you will eventually stop going.

I hope you chew on this quote like I have. Test it. See for yourself if it is true. Tell me if you think it is wrong. Tell me why you think it is wrong. I would love to hear your thoughts on this…

“What you make optional in life, you will eventually stop doing.”

“Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven – healed inside and out. Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” – James 5:13-16 (The Message)

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Prayer is powerful. Prayer works. I want to be praying for you. I want you to be praying for me. I want to open myself up to you more for prayer. Whether it is successes, failures, praise reports, illness, struggles, a 3rd party, or whatever the reason, I want to be praying for you.  My commitment to you is this: if you take the time to let me know of something that you want prayed for, I promise I will pray for you. l hope this can be a weekly segment on the blog.

This week I’m praying for…

  • REED WHITE. I’m praying for his continued health. I’m praying for a full miraculous healing. I’m praying for a healthy heart to come available. I’m praying that he will soon be out of the hospital and driving Mom & Dad crazy at home.
  • RYAN & KEELEY WHITE – parents of Reed. I pray for strength, peace, and resolve beyond what you have ever experienced.  God will provide for you guys and Reed. I speak that truth over your family today. He will provide a heart and a healing touch. You will see him graduate high school. You will see him in a tux at his first prom. You will bust him making out with a girl. You will move him into his college dorm. (For updates on the White family, CLICK HERE.)
  • SCOTT & ERIN PITTMAN. This wonderful couple are now pregnant and expecting their first child sometime this summer. Scott is one of my best friends and was my roommate in college for many years.
  • ERIC CHONG. I met Eric this summer while I was in China. He currently lives in Hong Kong, China and is trying to get to America soon. I am specifically praying that his visa application process goes smoothly. 
  • CHRISTINE LIU. My sweet, beautiful sister is starting classes this week at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I pray for clarity in her communication and understanding. I also pray that any stress or anxiety will melt away. Finally, I pray that she will make and develop life-long relationships centered around the Father.
  • SOC/SM TEENS. I pray for these guys everyday. This week I am specifically praying for their 2009 spiritual goals that they set last Wednesday night at REVIVE. I pray that every goal they set comes to fruition this year. Give them discipline and resolve to finish strong.
  • FRANK GRAY. Frank is the new Senior Pastor at the Shannon Oaks Church. He and his family will move here sometime in February. Welcome! We are excited that you and your family are coming to Sulphur Springs to live life with us.
  • BEN VOS. My ministry partner-in-crime is in Michigan this week working on his master’s degree. 
  • LISA VOS – Ben’s wife. Being away from your significant other for so long can be tough.
  • LOCAL CHURCH I’M PRAYING FOR THIS WEEK – FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. I try to pray every week for a local church. Hey, there’s no competition. We are all on the same team. I just want more people to know Jesus. 
  • There are a couple more, but for the sake of confidentiality and privacy, I will keep those unspoken to the general public.

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What else? What did I miss? What can I be praying for you this week?