November 27, 2007

Rob Bell's Communication


Rob Bell has distinguished himself as one of the best communicators in the church today. His Nooma videos sell thousands, and his The God's Aren't Angry tour is sold out at most locations. I have the privilege of hearing him this Friday.

Christianity Today has a great article observing some of the things he does to communicate the Gospel. Check it out here. You can also listen to his messages online. Every speaker would do well to learn from him to improve their communication ability.

November 26, 2007

If Gary Lamb Gets His Wish...

If Gary Lamb gets his wish, and I get mine...we'll have to agree to disagree on who the best team in the country is!

A Church Plant in the Works

Almost two years ago my wife and I sensed God beginning to lead us elsewhere. The problem was we didn't know where He was leading. We both sensed it was time to finish where we were at and move on, but we never expected God to lead us back to our hometown.

It began with a simple e-mail and an unexpected invitation. I e-mailed Doug Roe and asked him a few questions about church planting. I heard him speak a few years previous and related well with his story. I also attended his church when visiting family for the holidays. I sent the e-mail not really expecting a response. What I got was an invitation to stay at his house for a weekend and spend some time with him. At the end of the weekend, Doug invited me to move back to Dayton and consider planting a church in the Northland area of Dayton, Ohio (Huber Heights, Vandalia, Northridge, etc).

It didn't take much prayer, as I already felt this was where God was leading. We quite our church, our jobs, and sold our home...and moved back to Dayton after being gone for about 13 years. It was an easy decision because I had felt the area needed a church from the time I was 18, but never believed I would be the one to plant it.

Now, we are in the beginning stages of pushing toward a church plant. I am beginning to formulate a plan and will be starting 8-10 small groups in that area in the next year. I am also beginning to pray for some strategic partnerships. We need people who are called to ministry and feel a passion for reaching the lost. We need a worship leader, children's minister, set-up director, small groups leader, hospitality director, executive pastor, small group leaders, etc.

I planted my first church as the only minister, and I don't want to do that again. I am praying for God to send the right people at the right time. I am praying, and I am asking for your prayers as well.

November 19, 2007

We Are #19 and That 's Not Good!

A new study was just released naming the 25 most dangerous and the 25 safest cities...I have lived in two of the top 25 most dangerous cities.

Dayton, Ohio ranks #19

I grew up in the inner city parts of Dayton, and I know how bad it can be.

BUT...

I also realize how powerful God is, and what He can do if only the churches would seek to expand His kingdom. There is such an opportunity to serve and love people here! If you are planting a church, there is no greater thing you can do than to serve your community in practical, loving ways. You need a quality service and church when they come to visit, but if your people and church isn't going out into the world to serve and love, then you are really no different than any other church...you just have a fancier service.

This weekend I led a group of 50-60 to a Huber Heights, Ohio housing complex to give away Thanksgiving Dinners. We simply knocked on doors and offered them a FREE, no strings attached, Thanksgiving meal. Then we asked if there was any way we could pray for them. Very few people turned us down.

The group came back with some great stories and had great opportunities to pray with people. Other groups from the church went to three other areas in the city, and there were more than 400 dinners given away. Check out more on Steve's Blog.

Here is the promo video:

November 13, 2007

5 Kinds of Christians

Christianity Today published a recent survey on the characteristics of "Christians."

Active Christians 19%

  • Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  • Committed churchgoers
  • Bible readers
  • Accept leadership positions
  • Invest in personal faith development through the church
  • Feel obligated to share faith; 79% do so.

Professing Christians 20%

  • Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  • Focus on personal relationship with God and Jesus
  • Similar beliefs to Active Christians, different actions
  • Less involved in church, both attending and serving
  • Less commitment to Bible reading or sharing faith

Liturgical Christians 16%

  • Predominantly Catholic and Lutheran
  • Regular churchgoers
  • High level of spiritual activity, mostly expressed by serving in church and/or community
  • Recognize authority of the church

Private Christians 24%

  • Largest and youngest segment
  • Believe in God and doing good things
  • Own a Bible, but don't read it
  • Spiritual interest, but not within church context
  • Only about a third attend church at all
  • Almost none are church leaders

Cultural Christians 21%

  • Little outward religious behavior or attitudes
  • God aware, but little personal involvement with God
  • Do not view Jesus as essential to salvation
  • Affirm many ways to God
  • Favor universality theology

November 12, 2007

A Reminder of True Worship

Here is a great reminder about the true nature and purpose of worship.

November 9, 2007

Evangelicals are an Easy Mistress

Recently I learned that Pat Robertson, father of all things evangolitical, lent his endorsement to Rudy Giuliani. Three years ago Robertson said, "I will never vote for anyone for president of the United States who supports abortion or gay marriage. " Giuliani is a Republican moderate who supports both.

Now, this post isn't meant to be a political statement or an endorsement of any kind. It is, however, meant to draw attention to the fact that even if we, as Christians, are completely disagreed with, we are still expected to have integrity.

Roland S. Martin at CNN.com has this to say:

Evangelicals cursed and screamed when President Clinton had an affair in the White House, but it's clear they are willing to overlook the past marital failures of Giuliani, his fractured relationship with his children and his support for gay and abortion rights when mayor of New York. Those are not the family values they have beaten into the nation's consciousness for nearly 30 years.

This isn't the Rapture when Christians say Jesus will return to Earth, but it is the day of reckoning for conservative evangelicals. Will they abide by their faith and absolute opposition to abortion and homosexuality being first and foremost, or bend to the will of the party?

For years I have maintained that the focus of evangelicals was never really principles of the faith but the Republican Party. By aligning themselves with the GOP, they've put themselves in this position. And with 25 percent of the party's base being evangelicals, this is going to cause some serious problems.

This post isn't about liberal vs conservative or Republican vs Democrat political leanings of the church. Wherever we stand, we must have the integrity to stand by our convictions. Do our thoughts on a topic ever change? Yes. But when we are condemning of someone on the "other" side and then turn around and are loving, forgiving and accepting of someone on our side...we send the wrong message.

How much better to be loving toward all? To look for the best in everyone? To be loving, accepting, and forgiving no matter what the political background?

This stuff really just makes us look silly.

You will also want to read Randy's take on this too.

November 6, 2007

Regaining a Passion to Plant a Church

Before becoming a Christian, God called me into ministry. I think He did that because he needed to give me a purpose in order to keep me interested. Shortly after accepting the call, I walked out the doors of my local church, looked around, and realized there wasn't a healthy church in that entire area. My church was okay, but they didn't really reach out to people. They were inward focused and boring. They seemed to be waiting for people to walk into the church building before they helped them.

I didn't think we should be sitting back waiting. I still don't think we are to wait for people to walk into our doors. As a sidenote, I think most church use the "come and see" approach to church. They are living in a field of dreams believing that if they build it "they" will come. I think church is best done as a "go and do." We best represent the church when we go and do the Kingdom of God. (This is more than just "living it out" in front of other people.)

A year ago I moved back to my home area after 12+ years of absence. I moved with the intention of starting a Vineyard in the Northland area of Dayton, but over time my excitement began to wane. I needed time to adjust...to settle in. The past few weeks I have been praying, "Lord, if you want me to plant a church here give me a vision for this place. Give me compassion for its people."

He has done that in a quite unusual way. Over the past few weeks, I have heard about two churches in particular and have observed a few more from the area. The two churches can't get along. In all real and practical ways, they are telling the community that they don't care about them.

As I listened to the description of the two churches and the struggles they are going through, I got angry. I was also filled with compassion. I was angry that "Christian" people could be so selfish and un-Christlike. I was filled with compassion not for the churches, but for a community that has no genuine, quality example of what it means to be a Christian; of what it means to be the church. The people who are supposed to be fulfilling the mission of God to share His Good News are more concerned with what music gets played and whether they will feel uncomfortable about talking to someone.

I want to start that church. I want to reach out to the lost, hurting, broken, abandoned, and unloved. I want to help people come into a relationship with Jesus Christ that absolutely transforms their lives.

When I planted the first church, I was almost afraid of making too big a wave or asking for too much commitment. But not this time. There is too much at stake. Without the church I am planting, I believe that many people will go unreached and will never enter one of the current churches. Do I think that all the churches in the area are bad? No, there are some good people and good churches, but there could be so much more done.

Okay, end of my rant.

November 3, 2007

A Family Weekend

Every once in awhile it is nice to take time to get away and spend doing a "family thing." Here is a picture from a couple weeks ago of my family at Fulton Farms in Troy, Ohio. They have hayrides, pumpkins, and everything farmish!

November 1, 2007

How to Have a Successul Alternative to Halloween

I know there is a lot of different opinions about churches having alternatives to Halloween. The problem is that most churches don't know how to do it right.

BUT, not to brag, our church does it right...

Just for the record, I put a picture of me and my pastor together on the ferris wheel. I am the ninja assassin!

Here is how to have a great alternative to Halloween

First, invest more than 15 years in FREE, loving, accepting outreach to lost and broken people.

Second, invite the entire city with about 10,000 invitations (and 15 years of history).

Third, have over 5,000 unchurched people attend (we have more unchurched people at our outreach events than most people can reach in their neighborhoods), and give them more than 3,000 hot dogs, 1 ton of candy, and enough soda and water to float a small army.

Third, don't give candy to kids out of the trunk of your car...give it to them by the barrel-fulls.

Finally, have a 50 foot tall ferris wheel!

If you want to see some more pictures of our event check out this link.