Monday, April 30, 2012

Lost Vegas

Well, just got back from a great visionary trip to Las Vegas. It may surprise you that a pastor spent the weekend in what is known as sin city, but there is a lot to learn about the world and how the church connects with lost people. We spent about 15 hours visiting with the Sr. Pastor and leaders of The Crossing, Canyon Ridge Christian Church, and Central Christian Church. For them, sin city is grace city..for me it is also a microcosm of our lost culture that is enslaved to sin. We walked on the famous "strip" one night and the lights, crowds, and thrill of being in a world famous city is kind of exciting. People are dressed up for a night out, conversations and laughter fill the air. Many are simply going to do stuff that we all would do: eat out, walk around and people watch, hang out with friends, etc... Others are looking to do what the adds say - something they wouldn't otherwise do - something that will stay in Vegas. And they sin. They drink a lot, and the sensual dress of women is appalling, sex trade advertisements, and the language is terrible, and of course millions of dollars are wasted on gambling. Still, with the lights bright and music seems fun. Every morning, I got up at 6:00 to run. Don't get the idea that I'm super's just that my body clock was off and I couldn't sleep I exercised. Vegas the morning after is terrible. It dirty - streets littered with bottles, trash, etc... It's smelly, vomit and body odor. It's ugly - burned out, drunk people who haven't slept stagger around the streets among those who were jogging. It was a stark contrast to the glamourous look of the night. I reflected that sin city is a great picture of sin: Looks good and inviting and fun and ends up being ugly, smelly, and dirty. No matter how attractive sin looks in your life right now, it's going to be disastrously ugly in the end. You are not the go against God will ruin your life. This blatant view of sin renewed my passion for lost people. You see, everything I described happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas because it (sin) happens everywhere. The same sins and the same sinners live next door,work with you, are related to you, etc... So we preach grace because Jesus is the answer for all of this. Obviously, I didn't indulge in anything Vegas had to offer except the food, but I was recharged to preach the good news to sin-filled world. I also missed Eastview like crazy. Love this people, and this church,and the God who has brought it all together!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Spent this morning at the eye doctor. It's just my yearly check-up...and my eyes are getting older and so, I go to get eye drops in my eyes and stare at lights and charts, etc.... because vision is important. My eye doctor is awesome, so I know that my physical vision is in good hands, but what about spiritual vision? The elders (I'm one of them) will be gone this weekend visiting three different churches in Las Vegas (yeah, I know what your thinking...but it really is all about vision) You see, we are visiting with some pastors and elders of these growing churches to learn from them. We are praying for God to expand our "distance vision" by revealing some stuff that He is doing in other churches. Particularly we want to know how they are being "dangerous witnesses" in a place that is called "sin city". Hopefully, what happens in Vegas comes back to Normal and God will use these other parts of his kingdom to expand our vision for the work here. Of course, vision also entails seeing clearly what it near. I knew my readers are becoming more of an issue because I can't read the scores on the bottom of the screen when I'm watching ESPN...or I can read them but they are blurry. Another part of spiritual vision is seeing clearly what is right before you. This happens in two ways: 1. We see clearly when we pray and read the word of God. The Bible is most obvious guage for what God wants us to do. If our sight is lined up with God's Word, then we can see clearly to do the work He calls us to, but if our sight is not lined up, our ministries will be blurry. 2. We see clearly by looking at the people and resources that God places in our lives. All of our leadership comes from clearly seeing the lives/needs of those around us. Blindness is the worst thing that can happen when it comes to your eyes. There are so many limitations when you can't see. This is true spiritually too. When Jesus called the Pharisees "blind guides" he was questioning their ability to see God's Word and the sheep of Israel clearly. Of course, the leaders at Eastview don't want to be blind guides, so pray for your leaders always so that they can clearly see God's work up close and what He is leading us to in the future.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Yesterday, I announced two exciting ministry things that Eastview is partnering with. One is the Global Leadership Summit, August 9&10. Eastview is a video site for this worldwide event (ie. this is a big deal!) For years I have gone to this event with both staff and elders and we have learned a lot, had a lot confirmed in what we are doing and been inspired to vision more for God than ever before. I am encouraging anyone who leads ANY TEAM here at Eastview to use you influence to get your whole team here. Going to a leaderhip thing together allows you to be inspired in the same direction AND allows you as leader to tap into leadership principles you all heard. Also, you can make your leadership team better. If your team grows in leadership then your job becomes easier. How important is it to me? I'm requiring all of my staff leaders to choose ten leaders from their ministry and pay for their registration from their budget! All the elders are going and bringing people of influence they know as well. Can't wait to see how God grows us in leading what he is doing here.

Also, we talked about a new partnership with a church plant we are doing in NYC (Manhattan) with the Orchard group. We have already sent them one work group (Jr. Highers on spring break) and $30K to help start their work that will begin in September (officially). I don't think that Jesus was giving us a necessarily prescriptive plan of ministry when he said in Acts 1:8 (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the world), but it feels like we are covering our town, our region, our country and our world with the gospel and ministry that has been entrusted to us! May we remain faithful to continually reach out in dangerous witness to those who are lost. For more information on either of these new endeavors, please head to

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter reflections

I wonder why ham is one of the main foods consumed on Easter (we had it yesterday)? Of course, to a Jewish person, pig is an unclean meat, so, they probably didn't have it on that first Easter to celebrate the Risen Lord...and I'll bet they didn't have deviled eggs either.

I wonder why some people sit in an Easter service and hear great music, a sermon, an invitation where people respond to Jesus' call and then decided not to come back next week? Are they afraid? Disinterested? Unbelieving?

Easter is a vision of what your church can become. Our former Sr. Pastor, Gary York, used to say, "if you can hit it, you can average it". I think that's true. If people will come to church on Easter, then you just have to figure out what might minister to that group the other 51 weeks of the year. I have prayed this morning that God would grow us into the church we saw yesterday. It is also a great way to assess possible limitations, programmatic challenges, staffing/volunteer needs/parking etc.... If God would make yesterday's service a normal Sunday what would you have to do grow into for that to happen?

It is a wonder that the good news of the resurrection never gets old. I have told it hundreds of times and prayerfully on Easter Sunday, 2035, I'll still be preaching somewhere on Easter and I'll still be moved by the good news!

I wonder what first time visitors thought of the mix of people we have at Eastview? We are becoming a beautiful kaleidoscope of all kinds of people! Some were in shorts and some in three piece suits, some poor, some rich, some from India, Mexico, China, and Leroy. All of God's children come together as one family...beautiful!

The video stuff yesterday was awesome: if you were late, you missed the movie trailer for GENESIS. Then of course the "siltent film" about Jesus' death and resurrection! The staff were real gamers for dressing up and playing the part, our video guy Scott - great job.

The music was off the charts - Matt and his musicians did a great job with every element..pointing to our awesome God ....I could go on...if you stayed at the end of the service, we rolled credits just like the end of a movie and there were literally hundreds of names who made yesterday possible...I can't say enough thanks to the staff and volunteers for all they did

Decisions were made at the invitation each service! The third service had five scheduled baptisms with three more spontaneous and at least two more confessed Jesus as Lord and will schedule baptisms this week! Praise God.

Monday, April 2, 2012

no fooling

Well, yesterday was Palm Sunday that fell on that silly holiday we have called April fool's day. Of course, the triumphal entry into the city of Jersusalem ahead of Jesus' death burial and resurrection was the focal point for my soul yesterday....loved how we sang HOSANNA which is what the people sang 2,000 years ago and literally means "SAVE". Our worship was great yesterday...could almost see Jesus riding into town on a donkey...but still my mind thought about April 1st...not because I wanted to play some joke (I'm really not any good at tricking someone into thinking something is true when it's not...just can't keep that kind of thing in...I want to tell people I'm just kidding before I tell them what I'm kidding about...just doesn't work).

To me, April 1 is the anniversary of our Executive Pastor, Mark Warren being on staff at Eastview. Yesterday marked 19 years for he and his wife Rachel! Nineteen years is an awesome long time to be in one place doing ministry and it says something about a's what it says to me.
1. You are willing to grow! Mark could not have done this job 19 years ago...he was an associate in "new community" our old college/career age ministry, then he became small groups guy for the whole church, then he became a departmental director, then he became executive pastor. To stay somewhere for 19 years you have to be willing to grow, mature and learn new things about how God is using you in ministry. Mark has done that well.
2. You are loyal! Mark's value to me is several fold, but the thing I love about him most is that he is loyal to the ministry at Eastview and what God is doing here! I never worry that Mark has some ulterior motive for what he says or does because he cares mostly about the ministry of Eastview Christian Church and helping me lead...very cool.
3. You are family! Mark and I have a relationship that is more like being brothers than co-workers. Mark and I can have in depth conversation, disagree on things (strongly even), pray together, laugh together, talk trash to each other, share ministry experiences, etc.... When you hang around a place for 19 years, a famliy relationship exists.
4. You are patient! Of course, there have been ups and downs in the ministry here over the 19 years...some really tough, discouraging, polish up your resume' times! But Mark has prayed, served, met, planned, communicated and led his way through. He doesn't have to have instant results...he knows some things take time and you learn this when you stick around.
5. You are visionary! Mark and I have conversations about stuff that God may do here in the year 2025! Why? Because, when you've been somewhere for 19 years, your vision expands. You are able to see that somethings happen over a ten year period instead of "next Fall" and that allows you to vision (of course, as God will's and His Spirit leads) further into the future.

So here's to Mark Warren...April 1's to another 19....and don't bother mentioning this blog to him...he doesn't read it...and that makes me smiile.