WestRidge Church Campus Announcement

Today Brian Bloye announced plans for first of five new campus’ of Westridge Church to be started over the next five years. I am very excited to also announce that I will be joining the staff of the new campus as the Director of Group Life on a volunteer basis. The campus is set to launch on August 8th at Poole Elementary. I will post more updates and news as we get closer to launch! Please join me in praying for our team and for the people who we will be reaching at this new campus.

Come Back Tomorrow

I am currently reading the book, “Leading on Empty” by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro and we shared a dream that he had and the insight that he gained from that dream. In the dream a man and his family ran a small farm. Each day the man set up shop to sell various products and consumers would come and buy what he had: one bought a gallon of milk, another a ripe tomatoes, another cheese, others eggs or corn. A lady came and asked for something that the man did not have, but the farmer simply said, “come back tomorrow and I’ll have more.” The lady was upset with the farmer but it did not bother him. He just went back to work and day after day the people would stand in line for products until the farmer sold out for the day. When they had sold out the farmer would announce, “come back tomorrow and I’ll have more.”

Here is the nugget of wisdom that Pastor Wayne pulled from his dream. He writes, “I don’t have to tie myself to an imaginary, unrelenting cycle to produce more, make more, or try to outdo last week’s numbers. I have just so much time in the day, and I want to do what I can with all my heart involved. When the clock runs out, then I say, “come back tomorrow, and I’ll have more.”

As pastors and church leaders we can often feel like the farmer who feels compelled to “feed the masses” each and every day and never has the courage to stand up to the crowd and say “come back tomorrow” because we are scared that they will riot or not come back at all. The trap that we fall into sometime to run ourselves to death, neglect our families, and not feed ourselves is a dangerous gamble that we can fall into very easily unless we learn to steward our energy.

Pastor Wayne goes on to write how as a result of this dream and a breakdown that almost cost him everything, he learned to restructure his day around the following priorities:

1) A daily quiet time with God – it cannot be understated how important fueling our souls by spending time with God, fuels our ministry

2) Message preparation – as a leader in a speaking role in his church, Pastor Wayne devotes a small amount of time to study and preparation each day so as not to be finishing up his message on Saturday night.

3) Pastor & Leading – when it comes to your daily schedule, Pastor Wayne asks:

  • What areas of my life and ministry could benefit the most from an infusion of energy?
  • Which areas will be catalytic and advance the kingdom?
  • What groups of people do I need to energize and inspire?
  • What growth areas require my involvement?
  • Which aspects of ministry by my involvement will result in growth and fruitfulness?
  • What is it around _______ church that needs a burst of my energy to release or unclog it?
  • Where am I going to assign my pockets of energy that will in fact take the ministry to a new level?

4) Marriage & Family – If we use up all of our energy at the office, and we come home completely drained how can we be expected to succeed in this most important role? Saving time and energy that we invest into our marriages and families is one of the best decisions that we can make with our schedules and priorities.

5) Me – Me time includes time for exercise, reflection, fun, rest, and renewal.

Pastor Wayne concludes this section with these words, “Steward your energy well, and in seasons of dismay, you will still have enough of a reservoir to lead” and remember that there is always tomorrow so come back and I’ll have more then! (emphasis mine)

Is Getting God Enough?

In Numbers chapter 18 God says to Aaron in verse 20 “The Lord also said to Aaron, “You will not inherit any of the land, and you will not own any land among the other people. I will be yours. Out of all the Israelites, only you will inherit me.”

I wonder how Aaron must have felt to be told that the land that he had been hearing about for years and was to be flowing with “milk and honey”; he personally would never get to own any of it! This struck me because in essence God was saying to Aaron that he would have to be satisfied with Him and Him only! How many of us when everybody around us is receiving things is left with just God. I detect in the tone of God the idea that “Hey Aaron you get me! Nobody gets just me but you do! And by the way, you have to be ok with that!”

I wonder if we can appreciate what Aaron was to receive from God. Too many of us focus on what we get from God and miss the fact that we just get to be with God. The blessing of not having to farm and take care of land was given to Aaron who was then free to focus on serving God full-time in ministry. Perhaps God was on to something with this arrangement and we have somehow missed it or ignored it?

The greatest inheritance that we can receive is to be adopted into the family of God and may we never take it for granted or feel that it is beneath us to settle for being in the presence of God.

Realizing our Need

The New Century Version of Matthew 5:3 says,

“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

I was struck by the phrase “who realize their spiritual poverty” as it underscores our blindness from our dependence upon God to meet our needs. It is only when we realize that we need God, that we will open ourselves up to seeking God. I have seen that it is when I declare and acknowledge that I am broken and empty without God that he awakens in me the desire to be filled with more of the things of God. Our church has made it a priority this year to be more focused on God and the health that is found in pursuing him more. I have resolved to fill myself more with the things of God and to that end I have resolved to be a better husband and father, to read God’s word every day, and to place myself into accountability relationships that are grounded in Biblical community. May I be blessed as the Lord has promised as I declare my spiritual poverty before him in this new year.

The Begining of a New Year

I have been taking a bit of a break over the holidays from blogging, tweeting, and Facebook but now that the holiday season is just about over, I wanted to take a minute and reflect on the year that has passed and look ahead this new year.

I wish I could say that 2009 was a great year but overall it was more bad than good. I have been tested and stretched in ways that I never would have thought in 09.  Losing your job and the stability that comes from it was very difficult. I enter this new year with a greater appreciation of “my daily bread” and God supplying all my needs. My family has expanded and the gift of a daughter has been a tremendous blessing on me and my wife.  Spending time with her and knowing that I have been given the responsibility to raise her, has put things into new perspective for me. It has also given me tremendous hope and joy.

In this new year I hope to accomplish some great things. I will be teaching later this month at Atlanta Christian College and it is my hope to pass along my knowledge and experience to my students. Teaching has been a dream of mine for some time now and I hope to be able to teach more as opportunities present themselves. I am praying for additional opportunities to serve at my church. Tomorrow, our pastor Brian Bloye will announce plans for this upcoming year and I a praying for opportunities to be involved in those plans. One opportunity that I will be participating in will be coaching journey group leaders at Westridge. One of the coaches in moving and I will be taking over coaching his groups very soon.

Happy New Year and may this year be even better than the last!

Communion Tables & Coffee Bars

In the most recent edition of Catalyst Leadership there is an article entitled “Walls do Talk” by Paul Louis Metzger in which the author talks about a recent trend in many churches of replacing the community that happens around meeting at the Lord’s Table for communion with the “real community” of a conversation over a late’ in a coffee bar on the church’s campus.

The following introduces the topic,

“Consider that in many churches the coffee bar has displaced the Lord’s Table as the place where real community happens. Due in part to the neutralizing of sacred space that has been popular since the 1980s, churches began removing or de-emphasizing the Lord’s Table and introducing coffee bars. Without doubt the desire has been to build community by offering people a culturally familiar setting to engage one another. But we must ask: What formative message does a coffee bar convey?

Metzger asks a great question, “what does this trend convey?” What message are we sending either implied or unintended? The communion table or the celebrating of communion communicates a message of community that is based on a far deeper level than just friend sharing together over some coffee. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to meet as friends in Christ and encourage each other to be more fruitful disciples.

Metzger goes on to say,

Both the coffee bar and Lord’s Table affirm community, but the kind of community they affirm differs significantly. Churches with coffee bars may have to work harder to ensure they are fostering community around the values of Christ rather than casual consumerism. At the same time, there is no guarantee that a church that prominently displays the Lord’s Table and forgoes coffee will automatically model unity, pastoral care, or break down cultural and generational cliques.

I believe there is a place for both the coffee bar and the Lord’s table as both affirm and build community. The challenge is how?How do we unite in celebration around the death of Jesus which is the uniting factor of all christian relationships while also afirming our needs to grow through sharing and being together in social settings.

Perhaps the answer is found in returning to the book of Acts and seeing that the early church met around the table and shared a meal of remembrance together (The Lord’s Table) while also meeting together for the purpose of being together and building community (Coffee Bar).

What about your church…does it contain a coffee bar? Has that space become the place where “real community” happens? Is there such a thing a sacred and non sacred space? Is celebrating the Lord’s Table been replaced by something else in your church?

Removing the term Hotlanta from our vernacular

Having lived here in the city of Atlanta for a little over a year now I have become familiar with the term “Hotlanta” which is often used to describe our city.  There is a movement a foot to rid the world of the term. Apparently Atlanta residents do not like the term and do not use it when describing the city but those from outside the city use it often when speaking of Atlanta. I would like to know what you think, “do you use the term Hotlanta?” “Would you like to see the phrase done away with?” “What term or phrase would you suggest be used in its place?”

 

John Maxwell on Taking Extra Care with Finances

Westridge Church where Melissa and I attend is in the midst of a series called “Fearless” where we are taking about money and finances. In doing my prep reading for a class that I will be teaching at ACC in January on Ethics I read some advice from John Maxwell that I wanted share.

Maxwell writes, “To keep money from becoming a master, I recommend doing the following:”

  • Earn your money: People who earn what they have posses a great respect for the possessions of others

 

  • Be scrupulously honest: Bend over backwards to make sure that all your financial dealings are above-board, not only for the sake of others, but also for yourself.
  • Be Generous: It’s been said that we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Giving not only helps others and frees us, it also puts money into perspective better than anything else we can do.
  • Use credit wisely: King Solomon advised, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” To maintain your freedom, refrain from incurring debt.

 

-Excerpt taken from John Maxwell, “There’s no such thing as “Business Ethics”” Center Street. Boston 2003

 

 

Gas Station Guy

Yesterday on my trip home from the gym, I pulled into a Kroger gas station to get some gas for my SUV. The station was moderately busy and so I proceeded to wait for an open pump. I pulled up behind a large “truuck” (That’s what they call em in Georgia!) that I thought was just sitting there because the owner had gone to the window to pay.  3, 4, 5 minutes went by and the owner of the truuck had not returned yet. I saw that another pump was going to be available so I pulled my SUV around to that pump and proceeded to start pumping my gas. I happened to notice that the truuck that I had been waiting on to move had in fact just been sitting there! The owner had been sitting in the cab the whole time! I went over to this guy an asked him why he was just sitting there, occupying a gas pump when people are trying to fill up and are even waiting behind other drivers. Truuck guy was completely clueless that he was doing anything wrong. He was even oblivious to the fact that I had waited behind him for like 5 minutes myself. I guess I just don’t get some people!