The Value of a Facebook Check in

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Ok, so lets backtrack a bit:

On Easter I asked those of you in attendance to “check-in” on Facebook.  The goal of that little experiment was to see just how many “unique” people on Facebook we would be able to reach through the check-in process.  (BTW what I mean by unique is this:  Lets say you and I have some of the same friends on Facebook.  Through Facebook’s analytics for our group page, we don’t see duplicate results, we only see people recorded once).

Since that time, through the multiple check-ins that have happened, we have been able to “reach” over 5000 people!!

But that raises two questions:

  1. Have we actually “reached” them?
  2. If so, with “what” have we reached them?

The answer to the first question is, well, it’s sortaidunnomaybe…

Actually, to answer the first question we really have to address the second question first. Which (you guessed it) raises another question:

How do we add value to our Facebook check-in that would be compelling to other people and cause them to consider visiting us to see what we are all about?

One way is to “tag” someone who isn’t in Church with you on a Sunday morning with a “wish you were here, why not come with me next Sunday” message?

Another way might be to post your check-in with an inspirational message “having such an awesome time this morning learning how to be a better person

Another way, and this is the one I want to focus on for a few minutes, is actually adding real substantive value to your check-in.  In other words, when you check-in, your check-in actually does something for another human being.

ENTER REACH BY CAUSELY…

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A few months ago I came across this awesome ministry called Reach, by a company called Causely. (you can find them here REACH) They are a marketing company that works with small businesses, fitness centers and Churches.

Here’s what they do:  They provide marketing materials that you can use in your social media platforms, within your social media connections, and within all your other marketing endeavors that are designed to encourage traffic at your place of business or Church.

Now here’s the cool part:  From the money that they charge those business, fitness centers, and Churches, the set aside a minimum of 40% to donate to mission causes on a monthly basis.  One month it might be providing Bibles to people in their own language, another month it might be something like school supplies or clean water or support for a local mission’s feeding center.

How does it work?

  1. The business or Church pays a monthly fee (for a Church our size it would be around $90)
  2. A person checks-in on Sunday or any other day that they are in the Church…
  3. That Check-in gets registered and Reach donates to the mission of the month based on the amount of check-ins that month.

HOW…COOL…IS…THAT!!!!!

The impact of this is something that I think can’t be overstated.  It creates a culture of giving, and encourages people to check us out because they see that we are doing something unique that NO ONE ELSE in the area is doing.  It creates a sense of belonging to something bigger than the self in people and helps them to possibly see that that bigger than the self thing is God and His Kingdom on Earth in the Church.  This…is a GREAT idea.

Now, I have checked into this EXTENSIVELY.  I talked to several Pastors starting in November of last year about this.   We’ve talked about their experience with the company, the impact it has had on their Churches, and just the general success of the program. Every one of them, to a person, all had great things to say:

  • They saw the generosity of the Church increase
  • They saw new people, intrigued by the idea of serving others through simply checking-in come to the church and STAY.
  • One Church, about our size saw 30 PEOPLE BAPTIZED LAST SUMMER ALONE!!!

All in all, I think that is pretty cool!!!

So, here is what I propose…aside from the obvious “lets do this”

(which I can’t actually say because the leadership and I haven’t talked about this, but since I was sick this week I thought why not just drop the bomb for discussion)

Let’s talk about doing this, see where it takes us.  I think it is a great idea that, if we position ourselves correctly to take advantage of it, will help us become a healthier, more vibrant Church..a Church that is turned outward towards other people, and not inward just to ourselves.

Gang, pray about this, I really think this is a great idea for us.

What’s Next?

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That is probably the largest two word question ever asked.  The short answer, and you probably won’t like it is:

I don’t know…

We’ve, the leadership here and I, have been hard at work since the first of the year trying to determine what our next steps will be.  We’ve started conversations about what do do with our land, when to start building, what do we do about ministry, who is our target and a whole host of other things.  What has ended up happening is that we have more questions arising than we have answers arriving.

But that’s ok…

Honestly, that is probably the best thing that could happen.  And I’ll be honest in saying that more questions will come out of the woodwork.  But here are a few things we do know:

  1. Important decisions are closer to us now than they were a few months ago.
  2. We MUST make some changes.
  3. Its’s going to hurt.

First: There are things that are heading towards us that we must decide upon that we cannot ignore.  Our building is aging and has significant issues…we are a Church in decline and have not had a unifying vision for growth for a number of years…we have significant gaps in our leadership…I could go on.  Eventually these are things, that if we want to continue as a Church AND be healthy AND growing…these are things we CANNOT avoid.

That brings us to the second thing:  We have to make some changes.  It is abundantly clear that the way we are doing things now are not positioning us such that we can welcome visitors and function as a disciple making Body.  Don’t take that to mean that we’ve stopped following Jesus, I don’t believe that for a minute.   But we have lost some of our “mojo”.  We’ve gotten into a rut, going through the motions, and all the while people on the outside have been looking, and what they see is a dying Church.  So why would someone who feels like they are dying on the inside want to enjoin themselves to something that they feel is dying as well?  Makes you think doesn’t it.

Third:  It’s gonna hurt.  It his highly likely that we may stop doing certain things the way that you like to see them done.  Please don’t take it personal because it’s not.  It is after all, not about us, is it?  I can’t say both of those things enough, so let me say it again another way.

You may have been in charge of that ministry for YEARS, and you may enjoy it and it may make you feel some sense of accomplishment, but please please hear me…

What you are doing isn’t working…

it isn’t helping to lead people to Find, Follow, and Live Like Jesus…

and it isn’t helping people to be people who help others Find, Follow, and Live Like Jesus…

And more to the point, if what you are doing is more about you than it is about following Jesus and making disciples, then you’re wrong…

NOW, you may be feeling a little stung right now…you may be feeling like I just ripped of a band aid that was covering an old wound.  Let me say that that isn’t the intention…

So..take a deep breath…

The intention is not to wound us, but to bring us back to our senses.

When that band aid is ripped off…it startles you and you take a deep breath…and your senses are heightened…

And what ends up happening is that you become more aware, acutely aware that something is wrong and you start to seek out ways to stop the pain.

Sadly what we often end up doing is just putting another band aid on, when what we need is to see a Dr…

Find out what is wrong…

Listen to what he says to do…

and do it...(this is the place we find ourselves in now, oh and I’m not the Dr by the way in this metaphor)

RIGHT NOW, God is starting to show us some direction by sending people to us who care about us and want to see us grow and return to health.  As a leadership we’ve been listening to the trusted outside voice of one of those people, Mike Knight Director of CEM, someone who doesn’t have a personal ax to grind when it comes to the future of our Church.  He has an open mind, and sees things that we may not see because of the rut we are in.  And, let me ad this:  He has a singular experience in helping Churches reach those who are un-churched, and this experience over the long haul is going to be INVALUABLE TO US.

And let me say two things about that:

  1. It is an ongoing conversation and he has personally invested his time and resources in helping us and has asked nothing in return but that we listen to him…
  2. He has committed to be with us over the long haul if we need him.

I’ve been working with Mike for almost 7 months now, meeting weekly for coaching and looking at our situation with a fine tooth comb.  He has some great insights about some of the things we need to do.  Ideas about leadership, what to do about building a new facility, creative ways to engage the community, and many many others.

Here’s the kicker, and it’s something that I have already said, but it bears saying again:

You may not “like” those ideas…and any changes that we make may hurt…

But all of these ideas, everyone of them, and every decision that we make as a leadership…all of them have been bathed in prayer…all of them have been contemplated and question deeply in light of what God calls the Church to be to the world…and any new ones will go through the same process.

All of this is too simply say this:   TRUST US

We’re not going to do anything to intentionally offend or hurt anyone. We’re not going to risk God’s Church, and His Children on a whim.  And most importantly we’re not going to change what we believe about God and his will.

Trust us because we all have the same mission:

To help people FIND, FOLLOW, and LIVE LIKE Jesus, 

By Loving God, Loving others, and Loving Period

Trust us because we won’t do ANYTHING that doesn’t help us, all of us, do that BETTER.

 

8 Views of the sermon from the Outside

A few weeks ago someone asked me what I looked for in a good sermon, and to be honest with you I struggled with coming up with a good answer precisely because I view the Sermon, as I do much of everything else we “do” in Church from the “outside looking in”.Without getting into too much history, I grew up outside the Church pretty much.  My father was an atheist, mostly

Without getting into too much history, I grew up outside the Church pretty much.  My father was an atheist, mostly as a reaction to poor treatment that he, and my grandmother, had been subjected to by Church leaders.  So even as a Christian, I’ve always looked at much of what we do from the lenses of someone who doesn’t know the Gospel, or someone very new to the Gospel.

I think that those of us who have spent much of out lives going to Church have become myopic to the true joy of what it means to come to Jesus, of what it means to hear and receive the good news.  We’ve grown so accustomed to all of  it, that we’ve become sort of addicted to our distinctives rather than those things that hold all Christians together.

So what ends up happening is we preach a version of the Gospel, “our version”, that contains so much insider language as to make it incomprehensible to those on the “outside looking in”.  So I try to preach, as much as I can figure out to do, from that mindset.

So here are 8 things that my outsider mind looks for in a sermon:

1. I want to be taught God’s Word, warts and all

I can get self-help anywhere. I come to church for God’s help – and for his glory. The only place I can be assured of hearing that is between the covers of the Bible.

Please don’t clean the Bible up for me. You’re not helping it or me when you do that.

The Bible wasn’t handed down from a cloud between fluttering angel’s wings. So we need to stop preaching it as though it was. Furthermore, it wasn’t written from the inside of a Church.

It was written in the grit and dirt of people’s real lives, people outside the Church dealing with all the messiness that life has for us. So it speaks to me in the grit and dirt of my real life.

We don’t need to clean the Bible up. It doesn’t need our help. It’s never wrong and it never contradicts itself. But it is filled with paradoxes.

It’s messy. But it’s true.

When we acknowledge that mess, our preaching feels more real.

Real is better than tidy.

2. I want to be told how great Jesus is (Not how great I am, or how great your Church is, or how great  America is.)

I love America, and I love you, and I’m not into self-abuse.

But it’s not my church, your church or America’s church (or whatever nation you may be from). It’s Christ’s church.

Tell me how much Jesus loves me. No church has ever gone wrong by talking about Jesus too much.

3. I want to hear about the preacher’s struggles as well as their certainties

I don’t like being yelled at by someone who acts like they’re better than me. They might be better than me. A lot of people are. But the fact that you think you’re better than me means you’re probably not.

We need more humility in the pulpit. A humility that tells me, “God and the Bible are always right, but I’m not.”

4. I want you to speak from your heart and your head

Preparation, study and research are essential elements in the pastor’s toolkit.

So are prayer, passion and experience.

Most pastors are stronger on one than the other. But all preachers need to bring elements of both every time they preach.

5. I want to hear from a pastor who knows and loves their congregation

I’ve been inspired many times by preachers speaking to massive, faceless crowds.

But when a pastor is speaking to a congregation that they’re serving, that they know, that they love, it shows. And it makes the message matter that much more.

When I preach, I know some deep things about a large percentage of the people I’m preaching to. Some deep, wonderful things and some deep, dark things. I don’t ever exploit what I know, but the fact that I know it makes a difference to how they hear the message.

I don’t ever exploit what I know, but the fact that I know it makes a difference to how they hear the message.

As a church gets bigger, that personal touch gets lost. That’s not a slam on big churches, it’s just the way it is. And, for many people, the personal touch isn’t needed for them to get everything they need from the church service.

But for a lot of people, the relationship matters. I’m one of those people, and I work really hard to be one of those pastors.

6. I want you to take a biblical moral stand (without getting mean or politically partisan)

You can preach the Bible without being a jerk about it. Truthful without getting mean.

Yes, the Bible contains difficult truths. And we can never shy away from them. Sin is real, hell is hot and eternity is long.

But I want to hear from a preacher whose heart breaks over sin and its consequences, not one who denies it – or delights in it.

The same goes for partisan politics. Just because we have the right to preach politics doesn’t mean we should. More to the point, when we mix politics with faith, faith always…ALWAYS comes out on the bad side.  Faith always loses…

7. I want mercy to triumph over judgment

“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13) may be the greatest sentence in the Bible.

It acknowledges the consequence of sin and offers the solution – in four simple words.

That’s what I want a great sermon to do. Acknowledge the problem. But point me towards grace. Sin and hell are true. But they are partial truths that need Grace to complete them.

8. I want to be able to do something about it

No, I don’t want homework. But I do want to be inspired to action.  It doesn’t have to be “seven steps to blah blah”, but give me something that says “hey, you can do this…you can overcome this…you can leave this behind…etc”

Great preaching doesn’t just inform us about facts, it inspires and equips us for action.

Equipping the saints (Ephesians 4:12) is the pastor’s prime mandate.

I love an eloquent sermon. But a less-than-perfect sermon that equips me is better than an eloquent sermon that doesn’t.

So, that’s it that’s what I look for in a good sermon, and those are realities that I try to bring into every sermon I preach for you on Sunday mornings.  Am I always successful, I dunno?

Preparing For Easter…

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Once a year, we have an unprecedented opportunity to welcome people to our Sunday Services who would not normally attend church. In preparation for that, I wanted to share with you a few things that I am thinking about as I plan, with others like our Worship Leader, for our Easter Services.

1. I Plan for Easter to be a Great Success

If we don’t plan for success, it will not happen. What is a success, how do we define it? In praying for and planning for Easter, here are some things that I have been thinking that define what success looks like for us on Easter:

  • God is present with us in great power.
  • Increased numbers of people present that exceed a regular Sunday.
  • People hear the gospel and place faith in Christ alone for salvation, or start asking questions about faith in Christ.
  • Members and guests have a fabulous experience at HCOC.

 

2. Our Church is Their Church on Easter Sunday.

It is critical that we have a big, welcoming spirit from the pulpit and by the people of the church on Easter Sunday. About two weeks ago, I read this phrase in an article that has been driving much of my thinking as I look towards Easter Sunday: Let our church be your church this Easter Sunday.

There are 15,765 people in our area (Franklin County and Iowa Falls), and an estimated 12,676 of those people do not have a church family or a church home! Therefore, we need to do all you can to demonstrate this big, welcoming spirit and challenge ourselves to resound it all over your community and region…AND it starts with you…and me…being a hospitable, and inviting person.   So we need to strive to let our church be their Church church this Easter Sunday.

With over 12 thousand people who need to hear the Gospel, you have plenty of people that you can invite, people in your OIKOS, who don’t know the Love of Jesus!! Being a hospitable, and inviting person starts BEFORE easter, so start praying about those people who don’t know Jesus and take a chance and invite them to Church on Easter Sunday

Oh, and a Key Idea!!!

We need to take care not to make guests feel unwelcome by joking about some who may only come to church on, or around Easter. A cynical spirit from the pulpit or in the congregation regarding guests is not productive. If we truly want to reach our community and region for Christ, we must welcome guests regardless of when they attend.

3. Preach the Gospel and sing recognizable songs.

Preach the Word of God and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will unashamedly, call people to a relationship with Jesus Christ because we all know that old life doesn’t work. We won’t soft-sell the message of the cross, but neither will we build walls that people can’t climb. I will preach the Resurrection, not as an event, but as a person and that person is Jesus and he came for EVERYONE.

We sing songs that people who rarely or have never attended church may recognize. We don’t want our music to be a barrier to experiencing the good news and we want them to experience the friendliness, sincerity, and energy of the church but mostly, we want them to feel the presence of God.

And here is a final note for you:

Pray like Easter matters, Pray that the resurrection can change a life, even just one…Because it does matter, and it can change…EVERYTHING

Why Connection Cards and Bulletins?

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In many circles, the Church Bulletin, and it’s partner in crime the Connection Card is perceived to be old school, the tool of staid and traditional churches. But leaders with such a perspective are missing an incredible opportunity to put something in the hands of guests that, as MANY statistics show, increases the chances they will return.

Because of that fact,  I see the church bulletin to be first for guests. While you guys as Church can benefit from it because it should contain information relevant to ALL, the most effective use comes from those who are new to your church.

So let me talk really quickly about our new Bulletin, and Connection Card in terms of 8 things that are a must if we want to be focused on the guest, those people in your “OIKOS” that you are currently thinking about, praying for, preparing yourself for, investing you life in, and looking for the proper moment to invite them to Church. (bet you didn’t think I would mention OIKOS again did you?)

  1. Physical address of church. You want to encourage the guest to return, so include the physical address of the church for their GPS.
  2. Website and social media links. This is a primary means of communication for our culture. I know that many of the people who attend our Church at present don’t make much use of these things, but the fact remains that the growing populations in our community do, so our church must be speaking that language, and guests need to know where to find us online.
  3. Email, and telephone contact. We need to make certain there is are email and telephone contacts so our guests can get more information on the church. And THIS IS KEY, we need to have a system in place for follow-up.
  4. Prayer request contact. Many first-time guests come to Church because something is going on in their lives that they need help with. So they may communicate with us through request before any other means. So we put that on our connection card and make certain we respond promptly to them.
  5. Sermon notes. Having an open space encourages people to interact with the teaching time, writing key points down, and asking questions. Ultimately it gives people a space to interact with the teaching in a way that helps them grow.
  6. Major events. A Church bulletin should never be cluttered a with a multitude of events and regularly scheduled activities. The previous edition of our bulletin had so much irrelevant information in it that some of the more important things we want to communicate to people, never had proper space (see number 7 and 8). Any event listed in the bulletin should be an event for everyone, and should be considered of major value to the congregation, AND communicate viable opportunities for our guests to find ways to be involved in the life of the Church.
  7. Vision or mission statement. This (hopefully) succinct statement will communicate to the guests what really matters at your church.  For us, it’s on the front page that we are here to help people FIND, FOLLOW and LIVE LIKE Jesus by becoming people who LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS, and strive be be loving in all our ways.
  8. Connect Card. This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT piece of paper we had out on a Sunday morning.  Ask yourself this question:  How do we know who is with us if we don’t get their information? And how can we follow-up with them if we don’t have their information?  Getting basic contact information helps us keep the front door open in welcoming our guests.  Putting it plainly:  We aren’t getting their information to hound them, or sell them something, but lets be honest if you go to a Church on a Sunday morning, and you are their of your own free will, isn’t it nice to have someone send you an email and a post-card that just simply says “Hey, it was great to see you on Sunday morning.  We where honored that you took time out of your busy week to come visit us.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email….”  (side note:  the reason we changed from a tear-off is because studies of churches that use connection cards show that, when they are a tear-off, most guests will not utilize them because they feel they are being disruptive if they do so.  A loose card, placed in the bulletin, while they may end up on the floor, are many times more likely to be used to communicate contact information)
  9. Welcome.  It’s a mistake from a guest-friendly perspective to not be upfront and welcome people to our services, telling them some basic things about what to expect during our services. Guests may not have a clue what’s taking place in the worship services, its our job to make certain they have a clue.

Well, there you go.  But let me address one last question, or really concern.  Someone this past Sunday voiced a genuine concern: How is this bulletin different than the last one?  I think I addressed that with these 9 things, but let me expand a small bit-

Our old bulletin contained massive amounts of what I call “insider” information.  Things like greeters schedules, who was preparing communion, and other pieces of information that should have their own communication pathway.  For example: if I am a greeter, then the person who is in charge of the greeting team should have prepared for me a schedule and should remind me of when I come up on the schedule.  Information like that, since it should have it’s own pathway of communication, really don’t do anything but take up space and ink away from other more important things that we really ought to be sharing with our guests.

The bulletin, for all intents and purposes, is a really important part of our first impression, so getting it to be more guest and user friendly increases our chances of getting people to want to come back to experience more of the goodness of God.

 

Confused?

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Who remembers Kodak? Who remembers taking photos with Kodak film? Does anyone know what happened to the Kodak company in 2012? Who still takes photos with film cameras?

In a blog post that I read last week, Pastor and Blogger Carey Nieuwhof compares Kodak and the church. He suggests that Kodak made a fundamental mistake in understanding their company’s mission.

In many ways,” He writes, “Kodak sabotaged its future by refusing to respond to the massive changes in culture. 

Kodak bet too much of its future on the past (film photography). It lost.

He goes on:

Imagine what might have happened if someone at Kodak had asked:

Are we in the film business, or the photography business?

If Kodak was in the film business, the future would be dim.

But if Kodak had decided it was in the photography business, the future could have been very different.

Instead, Facebook decided it was in the photography business when it bought Instagram. And Apple decided it was in the photography business when it developed the iPhone.”

“Too many leaders mix up method and mission. That’s one of the things that happened to Kodak [and that’s happening in journalism].

It’s also an epidemic in the church world.

This mistake is so easy to make in leadership.

A method is a current approach that helps you accomplish the mission. It’s how you do what you do.

The mission is why you exist.

The problem in most churches is people (including leaders) get very fond of their methods.

When Carey Nieuwhof talks about METHODS, what kind of things do you think he is talking about in the church? – PAUSE –

I suspect that there are a lot of examples he is thinking about, here are a few:

1. When I was serving in my first congregation, I had a member who was adamant that we have a Sunday School program – even though there were no Sunday School aged children attending the church.

The method of Sunday School had become more important than the mission to help people grow in faith.

2. This past week a friend of mine gathered with his Church’s leadership  to talk about their worship program, Carey Nieuwhof’s article came up in terms of the methods of worship over the mission of worship.

Churches will devote tremendous resources to particular methods of worship: contemporary or traditional, organs or praise bands, music before 1950 and music after, what’s considered to be more formal, or liturgical, verses what is more casual in worship styles – the list goes on.

The method – or preferred style – of worship has become more important than mission of proclaiming the gospel in the worshipping assembly.

3. Or the ultimate example, congregations focussing on attendance and budgets in order to keep their doors open – and failing to see that buildings and budgets are just methods.

The mission is – and has always been – helping others grow in their relationship to Jesus.

Churches, along with Kodak, are not immune from mistaking the method for the mission.

So at this point, you might be wondering what does all this method and mission talk have to do with the temptation of Jesus?  (betcha didn’t see that coming)

The devil, like Kodak and many congregations, had mistaken Jesus’ methods for Jesus’ mission. As the devil happens along Jesus wandering and fasting in the wilderness, he forgets what he had likely just heard and witnessed as Jesus was baptized. The devil had forgotten that the Father just declared Jesus the Son, and the devil had forgotten that the Father and Son are one God.

And having forgotten that, the devil tries to tempt Jesus with power and its misuse. The devil mistakes God’s mission to be one of power. The devil sees only the method of the incarnation – God becoming flesh. And the only purpose for God coming into the world that the devil can imagine is power.

Turn rocks into bread the devil urges – show God-like power over creation.

The devil tries again and offers that Jesus could rule over nations and peoples – show God-like power over humanity.

And the most desperate temptation, the devil dares Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple – as if forcing God to act and save Jesus shows God-like power.

With each successive temptation, the devil is trying to get Jesus to use his power, the power of an incarnate God. And the devil gets more desperate with each offer, trying to get Jesus to do something with all that power. The devil has mistaken the method – God coming to creation in flesh – for the mission.

The mission that Jesus reminds the devil, that Jesus reminds us of, each time he responds:

One does not live by bread alone… but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.

Do not put the Lord your God to test.

These are not the responses of a noble pious man resisting temptation in front of the devil. Jesus isn’t reciting bible verses for his own benefit.  We cannot split apart the trinity, split apart Father and Son and Holy Spirit when it feels convenient.

When Jesus speaks, it is God speaking.

One does not live by bread alone, Jesus says, for it is I who gives you life.

Worship the Lord your God, Jesus says, for it is I who will gives you a place in this world.

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, Jesus says, for I have not come to show my power, but to show my love for all creation.

The method, God becoming flesh, is only to serve the mission.

And the mission is God’s deep and abiding love for the world. For each and everyone of us. 

And it is not just the devil who needs this reminder.

We need it too.

As individuals, and as a Church. We need to be reminded that we exist in service of God’s mission. That all the things we do are in service of God’s mission. Whether it is Sunday School, or bible study or individual study and prayer, we serve God’s mission of growing in faith so that we can help others Find, Follow, and Live like Jesus (make Disciples).

Whether it is with organs or rock bands, old hymns or new songs, formal reverent liturgies or casual intimate gatherings we serve the mission of announcing God’s love.  Whether it is with grand buildings and large staffs, or rented space and volunteers, we serve God’s mission by being the places where forgiveness and mercy are offered. Where sinners are washed with in Baptism. Where the hungry are fed with bread and wine. Where the dying are given words that breathe into us new, and eternal, life.

God’s mission is ALWAYS front and center, as Jesus refocuses us back to the heart of the issue.  And it’s no mistake that the story of the temptation of Jesus focuses us on the heart of the issue between God and us.

And the same story plays out here among us. Our desire might be to control the methods, to make how WE do church the most important, but God’s desire is for the mission, to make the “why” the most important.

Lest we forget that the mission comes before the method, God has a habit of stripping us of our methods.

Our leadership is right now going through a leadership training course, and I think that what is happening is God is calling us to look at whether our focus is on the methods we use, or on God’s mission for the church and us. God is leading us into the wilderness, calling us to question attachment to our favorite methods, challenging our assumptions  about power and Leadership. Most importantly though, God is reminding of us what is most important.

Like Kodak who thought they were a film company rather than a photography company, the church too has a habit of mixing up the method for mission.

But unlike Kodak, God does not let us stay mixed up for long. Instead, God comes into our world and reminds us that isn’t about methods, not about the programs we have nor music or worship styles, nor buildings nor budgets.

The mission is helping people FIND, FOLLOW, and LIVE like Jesus. Everything else comes second. 

Stuff I like…

Typically when I sit down to blog something, its because I’ve been involved in some thought process, or read something, and gotten involved in a conversation and then taken the time to step back and put some of my thoughts down on paper (er, uh computer typewriter thingy). But this week has been incredibly busy for me and I haven’t had that time to sit back and ruminate.  So I decided that I would like to share some of the articles, and blog posts that I’ve read this week.

Here’s just a few:

Relevant Magazine: Stop Taking Jeremiah 29 out of context

 Is it The End of Contemporary Worship?

Balance

And my absolute favorite thing I read this week, and I will probably write about this in the future:  Five Resolutions for the Small Town Church

Have a Great Week!