As more “Real Readers” are commenting, and less spammers recently. I have opened up my comments a bit so that if you have previously commented and had that approved, your post will no longer require my approval. If you are a first time commenter, your comments won’t appear until I have approved them. This should allow for a more real time or dinner party approach to the conversation amongst the regular readers of this blog. I appreciate what the comments add to the ideas I present here.
Archive for the 'community' Category
As an educator, I am charged with two responsibilities. OK, probably more than that, but I am gong to focus on two today. The first is the obvious one. I have the duty to impart information to the students and help them gain a certain level of competency with that material. In my case, that would be the ability to use the Spanish language. The second responsibility is harder. I must develop the future leaders of the world and equip them with skills and abilities that will help them navigate life beyond college. Teaching them to succeed in the future using technology and ideas that haven’t been invented or thought of yet involves much more than just the ability to correctly conjugate verbs and form a coherent sentence. I need to teach them to recognize and be able to obtain the knowledge and skills that they will need even if those skill sets don’t yet exist. I hope you will help me in this endeavor to bring up incredible leaders for our future!
When Church planters enter a community, they usually do some research first. They figure out where the people are, where they can meet the needs of the people they intend to reach etc… In established churches, sometimes the community changes while we aren’t paying attention. Maybe we need to take a walk around the neighborhood with some new eyes. Plant a new church within the established church! Rose White (Sorry Rose, I don’t have a link to you on the internet) recently did some incredible research into the idea of the “Christo-centric Walkabout” finding where people would and wouldn’t go in a city and why people might find certain areas or even churches “inaccessible”. Has your church become inaccessible to the people of the community where it is located? Do changes need to be made so that you can meet the people where they are in order to create relationships in which the Gospel of Jesus can be shared? Maybe it is time for a Walkabout…or even just a walk around the neighborhood with your eyes open to how God would have you reach the people there.
Today, my wife left for Seattle. The house hasn’t changed any. Life around me is more or less the same, but there is a little something missing. She is only one person, but in my life, she is a VERY important person! Are you a part of someone’s life enough that you would be missed if you disappeared for a while? Someone other than your spouse/kids? In church leadership we can ask that question both of ourselves and our church. If I disappeared from this ministry, would anyone care? Would it affect anything? The same with our church! If my church disappeared off the face of the earth today, would anyone outside of the staff & maybe the members even notice? Are we making a difference in the community? Do people outside see the life change that is going on in people’s lives because we are here? Or are we just that building on a hill that has a few cars outside it on Sunday mornings for an hour or so? Tough question to ask, but one we should be asking regularly. Just because you would be missed today, doesn’t mean you have that status forever. We must constantly be seeking the Lord and HIS vision and direction for our churches. When we step outside of HIS will, we are just a community club that will soon lose members and die off. Seek God’s grace that your church will be one that would be missed if you weren’t there!
Yesterday, a young man who is very well known in the Swing Dance community here in the Southeastern United States , Matt King was killed in a cycling accident. In a moment, a truck made a turn, Matt had just pulled off the curb and was hit. Soon afterward, he was pronounced dead. It wasn’t the driver’s fault, yet that doesn’t change the result. Matt was a great athlete, a guy who was a lot of fun just to know, a kind of goofy swing dancer, active in FCA, his church and youth group. I have no doubt about Matt’s relationship with Jesus Christ. The part that hits me is that he was about 15 years younger than me. A graduate of Clemson University’s class of 2009, he was not someone you would expect to be dead today. It was a not so gentle reminder that we all must be ready to meet our maker. For those of us who are Christians, it reminds us that time is precious and those whom we know who don’t know Christ aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow. We must remember that their eternity depends on their response to Jesus’ question, “Will you follow me?”. It is our job to give them the chance to be confronted with that question. Matt, I look forward to watching you dance again as we dance before our Almighty God praising HIM in heaven. I will be there soon.
Yesterday, there were about 16,400 people in attendance at my church. Most of the time when I tell people that I am a member of NewSpring Church, their first response is something like, “That is that really huge church in Anderson, right?” I actually attend the Greenville Campus, but yes it is. What is it like being part of a satellite campus of a church that is about 164 times the size of the average church in America? One thing that must be re-defined is “What is the church?” It isn’t the buildings or the pastor or even the leadership. It is each of us who are believers in Jesus Christ living our lives together in such a way that brings Glory to God. I obviously don’t “live my life with” all 16,400 people. I don’t even see them all each week. With at least 8 services spread over 4 campuses, I only see a fraction of those people. Within the group that I see each week, I get to know and get involved in the lives of less than 100 of those people. Now we are down to the size of the average church in America. I love my church! Both those I know and live and work with, and those I honestly wouldn’t recognize if I saw them on the street. The great thing is that there are thousands of people coming together to help make Jesus famous on life at a time! And not sure what the final count was for Salvations, but there were at least 200 people who gave their heart to Jesus yesterday! More than attendance, that is the number that really counts! But would that number be possible without the other one? People must invite their friends and family who don’t know Christ in order for there to be heathens in the crowd who will have their lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Attendance isn’t a game or just numbers, it is people taking part corporately in leading others to know Jesus Christ.
I am currently reading a book that to be honest is a little out of my “normal” reading genre. The Church Emerging from Vatican II: A popular approach to contemporary Catholicism by Dennis M. Doyle I have learned many things through this book about the Roman Catholic church of course, but more interestingly and not as expected, I have learned much about the non-Roman church. For example: Martin Luther, the great reformer, wrote the first Catechism! He did so so that the common man would have knowledge of his faith. Even though ultimately he was excommunicated from the church, it seems he has had a great influence on both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant church. I have learned why the Baltimore Catechism seems to be so isolationist. It was written in a time when the Roman Catholic church was defining itself more by how not to be Protestant than by how to be Roman Catholic. I am not done with the book yet, so I am sure I will have more posts influenced by it. I do recommend it, both to the Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Holiness, Assemblies of God, and other Protestant/Evangelical/Pentecostal denominationally affiliated people who read this blog. I also recommend it to my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ who may not know some of the history behind Vatican II and how it is affecting the church. You also might learn some interesting things about your Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ as you read it. …Right now, I am really wishing I could have a sit down with Pope Benedict XVI(RC), Dr. George Wood(AG), Dr. Johnny M. Hunt(SBC), Bishop Wolfgang Huber(Luth-Germany), and Bishop Ieronymous of Thebes(Greek Orth.) to see if there is some way to find common ground in Christianity. My issue isn’t really with the fact that there are thousands of denominations. It is with the isolationist mentality of many of the denominations. Each group seems to feel that they have the most perfect or the perfect doctrine and everyone else is an infidel, or at very least seriously mistaken. I can imagine Jesus, sitting in Heaven shaking His head while saying to Gabriel, “Did I really go down there, suffer and die an excruciating death for this?” The spotless bride of Christ seems to still be working out some issues in her life. Fortunately, we are covered by the blood of Jesus and appear spotless.
PS. If any of you are friends with the above mentioned denominational leaders, I really would love to meet them. I don’t really think that a Spanish Teacher/blogger has the clout to get those men into a room together…but then again, who would have thought that a baby born to a virgin in a manger would be able to change the world?
I want to mention a new young leader that I have gotten to know over the last few years. His name is Will Broadus and he is a college student at North Greenville University. He just let me know that he is organizing the Day of Prayer on February 25th at NGU and that from 8:00-10:00 at the Hayes Ministry Center there will be a time of prayer. Anyone is invited to come! Corporate prayer is an often overlooked area in the church. Hope to see you there!
In each generation, there are young men and women who God raises up to be leaders of revival and renewal among HIS people. These people inspire us all. As one who teaches college for a living, I get to see the best and brightest come through my classroom each semester. Once every few years, there is one who stands out from the rest. If you read this, and you are already an established leader in the Christian community, keep an eye on Will. He just might be a guy you want to recruit and mentor. He didn’t ask me to write this, in fact, unless he reads my blog, he won’t know I did. Will, if you are reading this, keep up the great work! You are inspiring to many in our own walk with Jesus Christ!
I teach Spanish Literature for a living. Not making much on the blogging. In my literature classes, we talk about being “critical readers” or becoming literary critics. One of the things that has always bothered me about literature teachers in academia is that many of us have written a book review or published an article expounding on someone else’s book, but few have stuck their necks out and written a piece of fiction for others to critique. In the church world, it isn’t any different. If you do a quick Google search or search on Youtube for any pastor who is well known you will find clips of their preaching, maybe their blog, news articles about things their church is doing in the community etc… but you will also see blogs or comments written by people you have never heard of trashing those pastors. Sadly, sometimes the writers are other pastors or church leaders. If you are one of those “critics” I have a challenge for you. Use the energy you currently put into trying to discredit those who are busy working to make the Name of Jesus Christ known to as many people as possible and jump into the fight along side of them.
You might ask if I agree 100% with every pastor out there that is leading people to Jesus Christ. I must admit that I don’t always agree with their methods or even some minor areas of theology. I will say that I can still learn much from them! When I have preached a sermon in which thousands of people have come to the Lord, then I might have a talk with Billy Graham about some petty issue. When I have written a book that has helped hundreds or even thousands of young pastors plant churches that have reached people for the Lord, then maybe I will have a word with Rich Warren about our differences concerning church leadership and direction. When my 10 year old church plant has 15,000 people and we are making an impact in the lives of people in my community, then I can have a chat with Perry Noble about whether God uses A.D.D. rednecks in ministry. When the ministry God has given me allows me to see thousands of hurting families healed, then T.D. Jakes and I will have a discussion…You get the picture. Currently, I am a Spanish teacher who likes to blog about church stuff. If I can inspire people in church leadership, that is awesome! More important than what I write here, is what God does through me to impact people HE puts in my life. Don’t use your influence to tear down those who are working FOR the Kingdom of Heaven. As long as humans are involved, we will have differences, but let us stand together as brothers in Christ! Let us put down our petty arguments and endless theological debates so that we can introduce a dying world to Jesus Christ!
Yesterday, I had a chance to see just a little bit of what the party in heaven must be like when someone comes to the Lord! NewSpring Church had a 10th anniversary celebration at the BiLo Center in Greenville, SC. Just being able to praise an ALL POWERFUL GOD along with 15,000 or so other people was incredible. The great thing was the altar call…over 350 people came forward to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior! The service was about 2 1/2 hours long and could have gone longer! During the altar call people clapped and cheered for those who were laying their lives down to let Christ take control of their destiny! For 15 minutes, 15,000 people were in unison praying for those down by the stage. For 15 minutes, there were no problems, no divorces, no debt, no tax issues, no kid problems or parent problems! For 15 minutes of Glory, people stood and cheered for the ALMIGHTY GOD who was GREAT enough to reach down and save not only those who walked forward but each of us who were cheering as well. We are ALL broken vessels saved by a LOVING GOD who cared enough to make a way for us to find HIM through HIS SON JESUS CHRIST! That was 15 minutes of GLORY!