Monday, May 25, 2009

trend or movement?

I want to be a part of a movement. A movement (in my book) is a God-sized something that just pops up in the kingdom of God and radically changes things. The church is a movement. The reformation was a movement. The great awakening was a movement. There have been many missionary movements.

In the American church, I'm afraid many of us are more concerned with trends. Trends are what other churches are doing, or programs that are working in other places. Trends are, well, trendy. They last for a while and then a new trend comes along and everyone jumps to that. Bus ministry was trend. VBS was a trend (not all trends go away...and if your church is still doing VBS don't read more into this statement than you should...I like watered down Kool aid as much as anyone :-). Professionally programmed worship was a trend. Cool worship guys with bleached jeans and candles on the stage was a trend. Preachers in HD are a trend. Satellite churches are a trend. Churches focusing all their energy on helping kids with aids in Africa is a trend. You get the point. Not all trends (the ones i just mentioned included) are's just that they are trends. Below are my observations about trends and movements in the church.

Want to know if your church is trending or moving? Think about these...

Trends are predictable...movements are not (because the Spirit is at work and He is unpredictable).

Trends can be copied...movements can't be duplicated no matter how much you try.

Trends get headlines and lots of press...movements impact more people with neither.

Trends have answers for how things are done...movements have more questions than answers.

Trends draw crowds while the trend continues...movements change lives forever.

Trends get accolades while they are going on...movements get accolades 500 years after their done.

Trends happen where resources meet marketing...movements happen where God meets his people.

Trends are for the impatient who need immediate results...movements take time (often the leader of a movement toils for decades before anything moves).

Trends take brains...movements take faith.

Men take credit for trends...God gets credit for movements (though some men try to take it for themselves).

No matter what is trending now; the next trend is just around the corner and will make this one seem lame.

The next movement? Who knows. But if it's of God it will probably happen where a bunch of people are praying, sincerely dying to themselves so they can follow Jesus and holding up the Word of God. I want to be a part of a movement, don't you?

Monday, May 18, 2009

golf and stuff

I took a vacation day Thursday for an annual event I host here in B/N for some preaching buddies of mine. Tim Harlow (Parkview Christian Church - chicago...ish), Eddie Lowen (Springfield) and JP Jones (Champaign) all brought their wives to town around 9:45 (had to pick up JP at the Miller Park zoo, but that's another story). Anyway, BJ Armstrong was good enought to get us a tee time at BCC and we had a blast. Even though it had rained like crazy the course was really nice.

Now, here's the deal. I'm not a good golfer (and that's being kind), but this event is not about golf. It's about hanging out with guys who do what I do...who understand the pressures and to whom you can just spout off and not worry about how they may take it. We didn't even keep score, but we had a great day of golf. These guys encouraged me, challenged me, told me how I should do things at my church :-) and we laughed a lot. Sara spent the day with their wives and by 3:30 we were at Biaggi's for an early dinner. Very rewarding day.

Sunday I got to teach from Deuteronomy 22:13-30 and God used this very interesting text to teach us about his standards for sexuality. I really liked how the sermon turned out. I'm often surprised (even though I believe this from the bottom of my heart and have proven it to be true over and over again) at how completely relevant the Bible is to all that is in our world today. Sex drives this culture in many ways, and of course God created sex and knows about it more than anyone. If only we'd listen.

Finally, at the end of the service I made the announcement that while Doug Rutter (teaching pastor) has blessed us here with his preaching gift, i have come to the realization that there are not enough teaching opportunities here for him. So we have prayerfully and with blessing encouraged Doug to pursue another church where he can use his gift regularly and fully develope what God has made him to be...a preacher. If you remember it, join us in praying for Doug and Toni as they seek the place God is preparing for them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

truly humbled

Well, Sara and I got back on Saturday night around 9:00 from a very quick six days in the Phoenix area. Yes, I soaked up some sun while we were there (it was 108 on Friday) and i did get a chance to relax a little, but mostly from Wednesday through Friday, Mark (Warren our executive pastor) and I talked church - specifically Eastview. We had great discussions each morning (outdoors with palm trees and a view to camelback is that environment inspiring) about what God is doing at Eastview and what He may be doing in the future. I am extremely humbled that God has called us to lead here.

The other thing we did was to visit three other growing churches and tour their facilities as well as pick the brains of the sr. pastor and exec. pastor. We felt like little kids asking about finances, staff, leadership, church strengths and weaknesses, etc... Literally we talked for two to three hours non-stop at each location. What we found was that each church emphasizes different things, but they were all being used by God to do His will. I'm extremely humbled to be a part of this kingdom that is bigger than I ever dreamed.

Finally, on sunday I gave roses during the service to some select moms (second hour with two in the balcony was fun...don't ask) but first and foremost I gave 24 roses to my wife who was not only celebrating mother's day, but also our 24th wedding anniversary. I surprised her (yeah for me!) Anyway, the point is that I'm equally humbled to have such a great wife. Sara continues to be one of my greatest blessings from God.

Doug gave us a great start to "you asked for it" sermon series and I will continue this Sunday with Deuteronomy 22:13-30. Invite a friend to hear the amazing stuff God has to say about our sexuality.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

day late

Sorry for those of you who follow my blog - didn't get to it yesterday...better late than never. The last 48 hours (almost) since church was over on sunday have been a whirlwind for Sara and i. We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening in the air or in the Atlanta airport making our way to Phoenix AZ. Aside from a storm that delayed us in ATL we had a pretty good flying day (got to read most of a book on preaching that I brought along and looked over my sermons for the retreat). Our good ministry friends Cal and Lisa Jernigan picked us up at the luggage carousel and took us to their home in Mesa. It was 10:00 west coast time (which means it was way past my bed time in central zone) but we caught our second wind talking and sharing ministry and family. I found myself sitting under palm trees and a clear sky in 85 degree weather thinking how blessed I am. We were in bed by midnight but because we never seem to sleep right when we travel (what am i saying? I haven't slept right since mikey was born 20 years ago) and so we were up by 6:00...back to the back yard porch for morning Bible reading.

We spent all of Monday heading north with Cal (after starbucks of course:-) to see the place he and lisa are building in a place called Happy Jack AZ. their cabin is in the middle of a cool national forest and has great views. We will spend many happy times with them in this retreat place in the future. Then we headed to prescott AZ where i was to speak at this pastor's conference. (Is this getting boring to you yet?) Anyway, arrived in this old western frontier town famous for it's whisky row - lots of quaint shops and buildings and stuff - and made our way to the camp. We arrived by 3:30 and i was preaching by 4:00 - then to supper and back at it by 7:00. This is a great chance to hang out with other pastors and church leaders/staff members. I've tried to renew them in their love and passion for the Word of God! It is a hard thing to preach to preachers....they've heard it all before. All the more reason to hear it again in a fresh way! Anyway the preaching has gone well and Sara and I have had a chance to reconnect with lots of old friends. Talked to Danny Dodson, Karl (always forget his last name, but hey I know his first name which as you know is rare), some guys from old youth ministry days, Don Wilson, etc... Good to hear what God is doing in his church in AZ! Always humbled. Always blessed and honored to be a part of this preaching fraternity.

One great blessing in coming to Prescott is to hang out with our good friends Dave and Lori Coyne. We go back 21 years where he was my first intern at hill n dale christian church in lexington KY. What a great couple who are serving at this camp here (think they've been here for 8 years or something). Anyway again late last night we were sitting in their living room sharing life, parenting, ministry, laughing (mostly at Lori's ADD conversations which i easily follow) and loving one another in Christ.

Now, it's around 7:30 here and I'm sweeping by Prescott Starbucks (even cowboys drink $4 coffee) and heading to one last session before heading back down to the valley. Gonna be out here for the week, so maybe you'll get another blog out of me... by the's supposed to be 99 degrees today (but it's a dry heat- like some sock in the clothes dryer)