Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Next Generation

I love when life is serendipitous. I like that word, although it’s probably not the right word for a believer to use. The right word is probably providential.

Either way or either word, this morning I was “Walking in the Word” and read Psalm 78 and when I came upon vs. 4-6, I saw God winking at me. I sensed a smile from heaven. Psalm 78:4-6 says We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, 6so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”

Why is that providential? Today I am taking concrete steps in hopes of fulfilling a vision God gave me over a year and a half ago. At that time I reorganized the staff of the church I pastor and created a new Management Team position that would oversee a new department we now call “The Next Generation” Ministry.

After I discovered that 80% of the students that graduate from churches, like the one I serve, stop attending church in their second year of college, I knew we had to do something. Our solution has been to create a department whose primary responsibility is to produce disciples out of kids from birth to eighteen who will rise up as leaders in the church.

Last fall when we hired our Next Generation Pastor, who would oversee this gargantuan task, we also hired a new Care Pastor who also serves on the Management Team of the church and has a passion for family ministries. Is that coincidence? I don’t believe that. It is providence.

So today I am meeting with the Management Team and the entire Next Generation staff and we are going to begin to outline a long-term plan that will not only impact students, but their families and our entire church.

We believe God is calling us to equip parents, who have the responsibility to groom God’s next generation of church leaders (Deuteronomy 6:4-8), to fulfill their divine responsibilities. They must do it, but we can help! We are going to outline outcomes we hope to see in our students’ lives, in their parents’ ability to raise them to be Godly, and in the life of our church.

In the end we hope to produce young people who are going to be so busy honoring God with their lives and fulfilling His plan for them that they don’t have the time or the interest to use drugs, to have sex outside of marriage, or cheat their way to the top. We hope to see healthy families working together to serve God and one another. With a church filled with families fulfilling God’s mandate, we believe we can reach this city and touch the world with the love and grace of God.

Pray for us and the church as we work toward this end. Prepare yourself and your family to participate in this culture changing endeavor. To get this done we will need ever single family, every single person, and every senior adult in the church to participate and serve in this great cause.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

A Church Killler - Consumerism

The late president John F. Kennedy once made the statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” A nation built on that mindset would be a great nation. A church built with that philosophy would also thrive.

Unfortunately, many in the American church do not possess that attitude. Millions of people will be in God-honoring Bible teaching churches on Sunday, but few of the members of those churches will come prepared.

There are at least three things believers need to do to be prepared for worship. 1. They need to have a week of daily prayer and Bible study behind them as they come to worship. 2. They need guests they have invited to worship with them. 3. They need to arrive ready to give their praise to God, their tithe to God, and their act of service to the church.

Most believers come unprepared. And I am partly to blame for this. As a pastor, I have always wanted and still want people who are far from God to come to church the way I was able to come when I was far from God. I want them to come as dearly loved friends who are guests among God’s people. Guests don’t have any responsibilities other than to hear and experience the love and grace of God through the praise, prayers, and preaching of God’s people. The hope is that they will not remain as guests. The hope is they will join the family of God and begin to honor God with their lives and function within the Body of Christ.

I must do a better job of challenging Christians to make this transition because fewer and fewer are making the step from guest to host. It seems that many want the title and authority of host, but the responsibility of a guest. They want to be consumers rather than contributors.

This consumerism will kill the church. Over time the real hosts of the church will not be able to focus on the real guests of the church because they will have to care for and cover the responsibilities of the pseudo-hosts who are living like guests. The real guests will be ignored and they will not complain. They will just leave. The pseudo-hosts will consume and leave and then complain if it wasn’t precisely the way that had planned it would be. Over time discouragement will fill the church and it will slowly degenerate into a house of unhappy people. God will cry “Ichabod” and the Spirit of God will depart (1 Samuel 4:21) and the church will become a gathering of cold Christians.

If the church is to survive and thrive, the people of God must make their stand and take on their roles as servants of the King of Kings. They must be who God called them to be. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Are you a consumer or a contributor? Do you gather with the church on Sunday morning prepared in the three ways I’ve mentioned? Are you functioning as a host or a guest of the church? Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Friday, May 11, 2007

A Knicely Visit

We have just finished a month of family meetings. It was been encouraging to see so many of you attend those gatherings and to hear how you are praying and wanting to see God work in and through His church at Living Hope.

One of the desires that we heard throughout the meetings was to see people at the other locations. As you know, right now we are one church with two locations. This is a temporary answer to our space challenge, but a necessary one. We need to need Knicely as I explained at the Church Family Meeting.

There is a way that you who are at the Main Site can see your friends that worship at Knicely. You can make a Knicely visit. You won’t get into trouble. It’s not against the rules. No one will make you stay, although after you experience the intimacy of the worship and the proximity of the parking, worship space, and class space you might want to.

You may even want to occasionally serve at Knicely. You could come early and set up or serve in the preschool area. Both of those service opportunities would provide a helpful hand. It would also give you the opportunity to worship with those you know at Knicely. It would be a win-win.

If you would be interested in serving one Sunday contact Jeff Carlisle at and let him know. He’ll get you all set up.

If you just want to pop in a visit one Sunday, you can do that too. Maybe you could look over your calendar and plan on taking one Sunday this summer and visiting Knicely.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Not Sick, but Tired

I’m really tired this week. I’ve gotten plenty of sleep. I even got an extra day off to go hunting and I killed my first turkey. That was amazing!

But I am tired. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying I’m tired.

I bring it up because I’ve learned that there are certain things you don’t do when you are tired. So just in case you are tired too or in order to be prepared for the next time you do get tired, here are the top 5 things you don’t do when you are tired.

#1 Don’t Talk Too Much – When you are tired you say stuff that either makes no sense or is way too direct and inappropriate. Fatigue messes up your mental filter so zip it up.

#2 Don’t Make Up Your Mind – When you are tired you will make bad decisions. This is not the time to consider a new vocation, a new location, or a new means of transportation. You will spend money you don’t have, go places that won’t satisfy, and lose opportunities you have worked too hard to give up on now.

#3 Don’t Get Used To Being Tired – There is nothing wrong with being tired, but there is something seriously wrong with staying tired. After a few days or a week at the most, if you are still tired you need to see a doctor, take some time off, and/or talk to an objective person who loves you and that you trust. Don’t let weariness be a way of life.

#4 Don’t Just Sleep – When you are truly tired, you don’t just need more sleep. You also need to be inspired and motivated. Get in a place or position where you can get jazzed up. Go see a movie or a friend. Read a book or go kill a turkey. Meditate and consider the goodness and greatness of God and His willingness to love you.

#5 Don’t Stop Doing What You’re Supposed To Do – There are certain things you just have to do. You have to brush your teeth. You have to pay the bills. You have to care for the people in your family and your circle of friends. You have to connect with God and care for other people who cannot give you anything in return. Do what you have to do and don’t mess up your life because you don’t feel like doing what must be done.