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Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

The Church Has Left the Building

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Here’s a video slide show from our recent Sunday of Service…

Some of you have asked about the music:  “Dirty” by Audio Adrenaline, and “Song for My Family” by the Michael Gungor Band.

Sunday Replay 10.19.08

October 20, 2008 5 comments

The church left the building… and the community was glad they did! Our Sunday of Service was AMAZING! 

I was blown away by how our church rallied to support a special day of community service – 90% of our regular attenders came to worship and glorify God by meeting needs and serving others.  Our people saw firsthand that serving others is something simple, and something anyone can do.

We took our faith to the streets and put our faith into action by transforming our regular Sunday service into an opportunity to practice “kindness with a purpose” throughout the community.  Volunteers from Jubilee went door-to-door collecting food for the local Food Pantry… A group washed cars for free… Another team picked up trash in the community park and along state road 18 in both directions and along Main Street…  The “elders” team painted the fire escapes at Carroll Manor… Our younger children visited the nursing homes, taking flowers to the residents of the Manor and St. Elizabeth’s Healthcare in Delphi… One construction crew began rebuilding a porch for a local family, while another did indoor carpentry work and laid flooring for a single mom… Our amazing lunch crew stayed at the church to prepare a great meal of soups and sandwiches!

The day produced some great stories – I can’t wait for Melissa to tell everyone about the lady who told her, “There’s something wrong with you people!” – and some unexpected service opportunities:  The kids who went to the house across the street from one of our projects and raked leaves for a man with a broken collar bone, and the donated, brand new recliner we were able to give to the single mom – her old one was held together with duct tape.

Sunday of Service also kicked off our new community service initiative called “Second Saturday.”  Each month on the second Saturday of the month, we will send teams into the community to serve and help people in any way we can.  But we don’t just want to serve our community, we also want to serve with our community, and so our Second Saturday projects will be open to anyone in our community who wants to participate and give something back.

Next Sunday will conclude our “Taking it to the Streets” message series, with a time of celebration, some stories from yesterday, and some vision for the future.

I am so proud of everyone who participated, and I’m about to BUST with excitement over what God is going to do through this church, and ANY church, that is willing to love their neighbors as they love themselves!

Have a great week!

Sunday Replay 10.12.08

October 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Tuesday afternoon, and I’m just getting around to my recap of Sunday – no particular reason, just working on things other than the blog for the past week or so…

Worship was great!  In Anya’s absence, the worship band went with a more mellow, acoustic set, and Jesi did a fantastic job leading.  And Sunday night at the talent show, I think another budding vocal talent was discovered – don’t you agree Sam?

The third installment of our “Taking It to the Streets” message series focused on “Little Acts with Big Impact.”  We looked at Jesus’ description of the Kingdom in Luke 13:18-21.  There, Jesus said the Kingdom was like a small mustard seed that grows in to a bushy tree large enough for birds to build nests in.  Then He said the Kingdom was like a lump of yeast that was worked into 50 pounds of dough to make bread for as many as 100 people!

Jesus wasn’t teaching horticulture or giving cooking lessons – He’s revealing truth about the kingdom of God…  And this was His point: When it comes to spiritual things, God uses small things to do BIG stuff.  We get our word “ministry” from the Latin root for “small things,” the same root as the word “miniature.” Ministry is involved in small things. We’re called to get involved in little acts, small gestures and everyday service.

Next Sunday is a huge day for us – instead of Sunday services, we going to have a Sunday of Service!  We are about to unleash on this community a church that, for a welcome change, is not saying “come to us,” “join us,” “give to us,”  but instead is saying, “we’ll come to you, and serve you, and give to you, expecting nothing in return and we’re doing it because we love Jesus and He loves you!”  Be prepared to be blown away by how people respond!

Whatever you do – don’t stay home this Sunday!  We’ve got some fantastic projects lined up, and afterward, we’ll all meet back at the building for soup and sandwiches – and a BIG ANNOUNCMENT!  But unless you’re here, you’ll have to hear it from someone else!

Have a great week.

Sunday Replay 10.05.08

October 7, 2008 1 comment

Some Sunday’s are better than others – any pastor will tell you that.  And yesterday was one of the best I’ve experienced during my ministry here…

Worship was exactly what I needed!  The songs turned our attention toward God and His goodness, and also challenged us to live a life that makes a difference.  The worship band was tight and the vocals were also very good.  I so appreciate the vision the worship band has, and their commitment to not settling for “o.k.” when they serve an awesome God! 

I was so excited to preach Sunday, I was about to bust.  The second installment of our “Taking It to the Streets” series focused on learning to see like Jesus sees.  We looked at Luke 4:14-21, Jesus’ announcement of His ministry in Nazareth.  We saw that the statement Jesus made there was His mission, and it is our mandate.  Jesus said His mission was to

  • Preach good news to the poor.  In that day, poverty was seen as a judgment from God.  Jesus brought the good news of the Kingdom directly to the poor – telling them that the Kingdom was present with them.  The Kingdom of God is that place where His will is done, and in that Kingdom, everyone eats, has a place to live, clothes to wear, and the truth about Jesus shared with them.
  • Proclaim freedom for the captive. Jesus is talking about freedom for anyone who feels trapped, feels they’re being held against their will in a circumstance or situation that they feel helpless to confront and unable to control. 
  • Recover sight for the blind.  In Jesus’ day, the blind were thought to be suffering the consequence of sin – theirs or their parents.  Jesus declared recovery of their sight – in other words He released them from shame and condemnation.  We always tell the truth about sin – but we let God bring conviction, not condemnation – through His word and by the Holy Spirit.  In other words, back off, show mercy and grace and love and kindness, and let the Holy Spirit do His job…  He’s way better at it than we are.
  • Free the oppressed.  Jesus came to set wrong things right. He came to help the helpless. He came to bring justice to those who had been victims of injustice.  We are called to stand up for people who’ve been done wrong, who need help, who need an advocate.
  • Proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.  In Israel, every 50th year was a year of Jubilee – in that year all slaves were set free, all property returned to its original owner, and all debts were cleared off the books.  It was a time of celebration and rejoicing.  Jubilee was a symbol of the freedom that Jesus would gain for us on the cross.  People who are enslaved by and in debt to sin, can be set free, debt of sin is paid, because Jesus died and rose again!  Jesus was announcing an entirely new age of freedom and liberty.  Jesus is our Jubilee both now and forever!

Jesus’ mission is our mandate – and it’s people-centered, outwardly focused, and compassion driven.  If we can see people as He saw them, sees them, we will overflow with ideas and discover dozens of practical ways to show them the love of Christ.

Two weeks until our Sunday of Service – not Sunday services, but first, next week, we will look at how God turns small things done with great love into HUGE things that change lives, and the world!

Have a great week!

Beginning this Sunday…

September 26, 2008 3 comments

“Taking it to the Streets (Church has left the building)”  a new series of messages that will challenge us to put our faith into action… To recognize and do something about the fact that a lot of people who are far from God are not going to darken the door of a church any time soon… To learn to live out the truth that “showing” Jesus is usually more life-changing than “talking about” Jesus… To understand that “church” is something we are before it’s something we join or a place that we go to…

The messages for this series include:

  • “Taking the Detour” – the story of the Good Samaritan for today.
  • “The Jesus Glasses” – learning to see people through the eyes of Jesus.
  • “Little Acts – Big Impact” – small things done with love can change the world.

The final installment of the series will involve Service Sunday instead of Sunday services…  You’ll have to be here to believe it!

I encourage everyone to be here for each message, and bring along your skeptical friends who think that “all the church wants is your money” or “the church doesn’t really care about people.”  The Holy Spirit just might use these messages to change their minds and draw them closer to God!

Smile When You Say “Relevance”

September 5, 2008 2 comments

A church can only grow when it’s leadership is committed to reaching people who have never been reached, or who’ve given up on church, with the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must willing to use any method to do so, short of sin or changing the Message.  It’s called being relevant.

The “blogganistas” have tried their best to make “relevance” a theological cuss word.  Day after day on their blogs – why are their comments sections always closed? – they try to hoodwink us into thinking that “Relevant” = “sell out,” or “heresy,” or “abandoning the ‘faith once delivered.'”

I can’t use the word that comes to mind, but it stinks and it’s hard to get off your shoe…

“Relevance” is nothing more or less than what missionaries call “cross-cultural” and “contextualization.” A missionary who goes to a foreign mission field and does not plan on being relevant will fail. 21st century America is no different than any foreign mission field, and may be more resistant.

All churches “do” relevance, it is simply a matter of degree. The traditional, never-change-a-thing church is relevant primarily to veteran, experienced church goers, and those de-churched folks who want to return to a church they remember from childhood. The congregation that markets itself as the “Church that still sings ‘Just As I Am,'” is trying to make themselves relevant to those same folks, and also to those who might be upset or angry about changes at their own church.

Relevance isn’t about whether the preacher’s illustrations come from Spurgeon or Spiderman 3. It’s about telling the old, old Story in ways that are inviting, accessible, and understandable to an increasingly godless culture.

80 percent of North American churches are stagnant or declining. 3,500-4,000 U.S. churches close their doors each year. Something is drastically wrong somewhere. And if we continue to blame it on the lost who don’t want to hear the “pure, faithful gospel,” and only want to have their ears tickled, then a large part of the problem is us.

I totally agree that the “best” way to reach a lost person is one-on-one, a Christian developing a relationship with another person and sharing their faith. But I also recognize the reality that a very small percentage of believers ever do that sharing. Yes, that needs to change and should be a focus point for any church – but what happens in the meantime?  50,000 unsaved people die every day – how many days are we willing to let that happen while we say, “We’re working on it!”?

The bottom line for me is that any Sunday I preach to empty seats, I have not been as faithful, or as successful, as God wants me to be.  Sure, a lot of seat fillers don’t want anything too deep, or they just want to feel better, or they’re looking for some help with improvement of life issues – I don’t expect anything else of the unchurched or the immature…

But if they stay, they will hear the gospel, get involved in a small group, journey through our discipling process, learn to study the Scriptures, become a disciple-maker… In other words, if they hang around they will grow up. But none of that happens if they never come for the first time, or have a good reason to come back.  Relevance is, at base, about giving them a reason.

Sunday Replay 08.24.08

August 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Wow.  That little word doesn’t quite describe it, but it’s the one that I’ve heard over and over since yesterday…  We had a “banner” day, one that I really believe we will look back at and see as a crucial step forward for our church and our mission to reach this community…

Attendance was right in line with our current “normal”, which means we didn’t ding the YTD average, and even advanced it a tenth of a basis point or two – but I know that’s just stuff pastors fill up pages of yellow legal pad figuring out on Mondays (yeah, I know “yellow legal pad” is sooo old school)…  What was exciting was the new faces – several guests worshipping with us.

And worship band – you just flat brought it!  Your creativity is off the charts, the musicianship improves every week.  And when I think where we were a year ago, you guys just about make my head explode!  I’m so thankful for you and the part you play in our mission.

We continued the “Church on the Move” message series, looking at the Outreach That Makes Us Bigger.  Right off the bat, we concluded that “Bigger” does mean numerical growth because: 1) Every number is a person with a name, a face, a family, and an eternal destiny.  2) God intends for the Church to grow.  We took a lightning tour through the first half of the book of Acts and observed how many times we can see words like “multiplied,” “added,” “grew,” “large numbers believed,” etc.  A growing church was part of God’s plan from the very beginning.  And if we are fulfilling our mission, we will grow – there’s no such thing as a friendly, evangelistic, small church…

Then we looked at the encounter of Jesus and “the wee little man,” Zaccheus, to see a model we can follow in outreach to those who are far from God. 

  • Jesus looked for Zaccheus.  The man climbed the tree to see who Jesus was, but didn’t realize Jesus was actually looking for him.  We must make an effort to see the people around us who are searching for something.  We must offer them the chance to see who Jesus is. 
  • Jesus spent time with Zaccheus: “Today is my day to be a guest in your home!”  In spite of harsh criticism from religious people, Jesus spent time with “sinners,” and “tax collectors.”  We must be willing to go into their homes, have them in our homes, go into their culture, into their circles, among their friends… 
  • Jesus told Zaccheus the truth.  We don’t have the details of what Jesus said or taught while He was a guest in that home, but we see the results: a changed life and salvation.  In every relationship, the opportunity to tell the truth about Jesus will present itself.  When that happens, lives will be changed, people will be brought near to God.  We must be ready.

The response at the end of the message rocked me – I didn’t get an exact count, but the majority of people in attendance were down front, asking God to help them reach out to the people we all had prayed for Him to reveal to us.  I believe we will see many people come to faith in Christ because of those prayers.  Praise the Lord!

I told someone yesterday, “Our church has a fantastic future!” and their reply was, “The present ain’t too shabby either!”  That is true, but let’s make sure we never accept “status quo” or “good enough,” and drift into complacency.  Our mission propels us to advance the Kingdom, all the time, until Jesus comes!

HAMMER DOWN!

Have a great week!

Bible Beach Club 2008

June 23, 2008 1 comment

What’s a Bible Beach Club?  It’s 93 kids and 30 volunteers… 1500 water balloons… It’s “Jumping in the House of God”… It’s Pastor in a different funny wig every day… It’s crafts that don’t quite go together the way the instructions show…  Its learning about God in an exciting and fun environment… It’s seeing kids commit their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

What a week – we had a blast!  There were dozens of “first timers,” a huge and growing bunch of preschoolers (future trend alert!), and awesome volunteers!  Our theme was “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  The material was fantastic – tip of the hat to Thomas Nelson for putting it together.

Some “WOW” moments: Recreating Gideon’s attack on the Midianite camp… A “real” working fiery furnace… An undersea adventure… and a shipwreck-inducing storm, complete with howling wind and water!

Great comments from parents and children:  “My kids can’t stop talking about this!”  “We are so grateful for this program!”  “Your VBS is the best!”  “Can we do this again next week?” (AND I got booed when I announced that Friday was the last day!)

We recognized our youth pastors – the brother/sister team of Chris and Anya – who have been present as students, helpers, or leaders in all 17 Bible Beach Clubs!  They have attended a total of 85 days of BBC!  Tana, who led the preschoolers, has worked in 16 BBC’s, for a total of 80 days!  Awesome commitments and they do a great job year after year.

We are so blessed to have this opportunity every year!  We’ve already set the date for next year: June 22 – 26, 2009!

 

Random Ramble… Evangelism

April 25, 2008 4 comments

I’ve been reading and studying a lot about evangelism these days, preparing to facilitate the “Irresistible Evangelism” course on Wednesday nights (Jubilee people, you really ought to be here for that course – it’s going to be great!).

 

Here are a few somewhat random thoughts, while I’m on the subject…

I think I first heard about “levels of receptivity” from Thom Rainer.  The concept is that unchurched/unsaved people can generally be grouped into five categories:

  • U5 – Highly Resistant: antagonistic and even hostile to the gospel
  • U4 – Resistant to the gospel, but with no antagonistic attitude
  • U3 – Neutral, with no clear signs of being interested yet perhaps being open to discussion
  • U2 – Receptive to the gospel and church
  • U1 – Highly receptive to hearing and believing the Good News

As to how many people might occupy each category, I theorize that the numbers would fall along a classic bell curve:

Recptivity Curve

Here’s what struck me as I pondered all that… Almost every evangelism script, formula, presentation, program, etc., that we’ve ever tried to use is focused almost exclusively on the U1 and U2 end of the curve – the most receptive people.  It troubles me that the folks on the other end of that curve die and go to hell, and yet we persist in methods that basically ignore them.

I submit that Servant Evangelism will make a substantial impact – and is more likely than almost anything else to nudge a person from Highly Resistant toward Neutral or Receptive territory.

That being said, I’m becoming more and more convinced that no single method is the “only right way” to do evangelism (Sorry about that, WOTM groupies).  God has always used a variety of ways and means to draw people to Himself through His servant-followers.  Some ways are undoubtedly more effective than others (I’m still waiting to meet someone who was saved by  “urinal outreach” – not saying that person isn’t out there, I just haven’t met them).

It’s probably an apocryphal story, but – and I’m paraphrasing here – a man approached legendary evangelist Dwight L. Moody and said, “Moody, I don’t like your methods of evangelism.”  Moody replied, “Well, I’m not completely sold on them myself.  Tell me about yours.”  The man said, “Why, I don’t have any!”  To which Moody replied, “Then I like mine better than yours.”  The barren are the loudest critics of the fruitful.

Finally, you might have noticed I’ve added Chris Walker to my blogroll.  Chris’ website is called “EvangelismCoach.org” and it is a fantastic resource.  Lots of great ideas, news, and discussion of evangelism.  Check it out!

Everyone have a great weekend!

Sunday Replay 4.20.08

April 20, 2008 1 comment

The predicted rain missed us and we had a beautiful day!  And it was beautiful in the house too.   Worship was incredible!  Our special guest, Lyn Westafer did an outstanding job leading worship and singing for us this morning.  It was great to meet Lyn and her husband Bill, and I had tons of people comment on how much they enjoyed worship today.  I think the worship team enjoyed the day off, too.

The third message in our series, “Homerun! Knocking Life Out of the Park,” focused on Jesus’ prayer found in Luke 22:42, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  We saw in that prayer the assurances we have that God is close enough to hear us, powerful enough to act on our behalf, and faithful enough for us to trust.  We were challenged to pray every day, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

There are many exciting things coming up: 

  • “How to Play Worship Guitar” class is forming, and will be starting soon.  Whether you’re a beginner who’s always wanted to play or a grizzled veteran of the frets, you will learn what you need to play praise and worship music.  Cost is $25, and you need a guitar – preferably acoustic.
  • We’ve started taking paper registrations for the “Love and Respect” video conference on May 10th.  Hopefully this week we’ll have the online registration glitches worked out, please bear with us.  
  • In the next two weeks, we begin serious preparation for Bible Beach Club – our annual opportunity to spend a week in ministry to 100+ kids from our community.  Flyers will go out to kids at Carroll Elementary the week of May 12th.  We will also have online registration for the first time this year.  BBC is June 16-20.
  • This one is still a little ways off, but we will host a Community Cookout and Bluegrass Festival on July 4th.  We always have tons of people who park in our lot to watch the community fireworks show – this year we’re going to bless them and minister to them with free food and good music.  Watch for upcoming information on how you can get involved.

Have a great week!

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