Showing posts from September, 2012

Together: Week Four - "Loving Together"

This week I'll be continuing the sermon series "Together," an in-depth study on my church's core values.  Throughout the series we have asked very serious questions to each of our core values---values that we call "The Five Things."  These questions have served to get us focused on what is truly important for us to know about our values in order for us to more effectively accomplish our vision to be the kind of church that reflects and reveals the unselfish love of Christ to the world.

The sermon this week is centered around the fourth of our Five Things: Love.  And the question that we are going to be asking is a simple one, but one that carries with it some series implications as to how we live our lives both as individuals and as a community of faith.

Are We Loving God, Loving People and Loving the World? 

Jesus said this:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you a…

Honoring God In Red or Blue: Book Review

As we are quickly approaching a hotly disputed national election, I thought I would engage in some reading on faith and politics.  I'm also preaching a two-part sermon series called "God's Politics" the Sundays before and the after the election, and I wanted to start preparing.

The book I am reviewing and recommending today is Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace & Reason by Dr. Amy E. Black, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College.

In a recent interview, Black explained why she wrote Honoring God in Red or Blue:

"My book came out of an adult education class I taught at my church and from my work teaching at a Christian college. I recognized that many thoughtful Christians didn't know as much about the political process as they thought they needed to be active participants and a lot of folks wanted a basic primer about how it all worked. I'm also concerned about the tone of contemporary politics…

"Learning Together" - Discipleship 101

This week I am preaching the third installment of a sermon series on the core values of our church--a series entitled, "Together."

Our core values, what we call The Five Things, are: Worship, Pray, Grow, Love & Serve.  It's not enough for us to say that we have values, it's not enough for us to put cool logos and phrases on our publications.  We have to actually live, breathe and embody our values in all that we do.

And in order to do that, we need to spend some time asking serious questions about each of our core values.  Hence this sermon series, and the message that I'm preaching this week on the third of our Five Things: Grow.

First, this isn't a sermon about how to attain numerical growth.  We do track our attendance figures at my church, but our goal isn't to increase the size of the church.  If that happens, we rejoice, but it's not the be-all and end-all of why we do what we do.

The "Grow" in our Five Things is a shorthand way…

Together Week Two: Kneeling Together

This week I am continuing our sermon series entitled, "Together," which is focusing on the core values of my church--what we call "The Five Things."  This installment is centered on the second of our Five Things: Pray.

I read this statistic the other day from a nationwide survey on faith in the United
States that something like 84 percent of Americans pray on a regular basis.  That's a staggering number considering how in our culture fewer and fewer people are attending church, or espousing a particular faith.

Maybe you're not a Christian, or you're struggling with this whole Christian thing, and you're not really sure how you feel about church or Jesus.  But one thing is certain:  There are moments when every single one of us tosses up a prayer for one reason or another.

Most people pray.  There is something about the act of praying that speaks into the depths of humans beings, regardless of our religious bent.

Here's the problem with praye…

Together Week One: "Gathering Together"

This week I am beginning a new sermon series for the month of September entitled, "Together."  This series focuses on my church's core values, what we call the "Five Things."  A couple of years ago, I preached a series on the Five Things to introduce them as the "how" that enables us to accomplish the "why."

Sounds awesome, right?  And sort of vague.

So here's what I mean:  The "why" is our purpose, our vision as a church.  We believe that we are called to "Reflect and Reveal the Unselfish Love of Christ to the World."  The shorthand version of this is, "Know Jesus, Show Jesus."

How we accomplish our vision is by focusing on our core values, our Five Things:  Worship, Pray, Grow, Love & Serve.  What we have discovered is that when we actually do pay attention to the Five Things, God has done some amazing things in, among and through our church.

Funny how that works, eh?

You might be wondering why we nee…

Navigating Seasons of Ministry: Wisdom from Jud Whilhite

This past week I had the chance to attend the Newspring Leadership Conference at Newspring Church in Anderson, SC.

One of the many speakers during the conference was Jud Whilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV.

Jud shared with us some awesome advice on the seasons of ministry that I now commend to anyone who is in church leadership:

1.  Remember Tough Seasons Are Temporary
God may just be getting you ready in this season for what is coming in the next, which might sound ominous, but it could also be awesome. 

Jud told us that one of the most liberating things that he realized about his life in ministry is that he didn't have to survive it.   Dr. Andrew Purves has written about this extensively in The Crucifixion of Ministry, which I commend to you as well.

2.  Manage The Crazy Intentionally
Sometimes the most devastating thing in our ministry is not to manage our "yes's very well.  It's easy to get overwhelmed with everything that must be done an…

Preaching to the Unchurched

I recently attended the Newspring Leadership Conference and got the chance to listen to some of the greatest preachers in America for nearly twelve hours of worship and learning.

I wanted to share some of the things I gleaned from this conference, and I thought I would begin with some straight up wisdom on preaching that Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Church in Atlanta laid on the crowd of nearly four thousand.

Northpoint Church was started some seventeen years ago with a particular focus:  to be the kind of church that unchurched people would love to attend.  Northpoint is now either the second or third largest church in the U.S. with multiple campuses and over 30,000 members, and still has that same focus.

Andy Stanley has recently written a book entitled, "Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend," that chronicles the journey of Northpoint, and offers some guidelines for church leaders who truly want to reach people who aren't actual…