That's what it took for us to advertise to a community of 312 apartments here in our area. We've established a FANTASTIC relationship with them. One of our regulars lives in this community and in the center they have a tennis court, swimming pool, clubhouse and workout facility.
At the end of July we did a great outreach event here by throwing a block party for the community. We had hundreds of people come out for a basketball tournament, moon bounces, face painting, football games, free lunch, etc. We heard so much positive feedback about that one that we decided to come back tonight and do a Halloween event we called "Treat Street".
We had a great crowd tonight. We intentionally kept the invitations to just that community in hopes of developing a long-term relationship. The staff have been great and during our last event a few of them remarked "This is the first time we've had anything here where we can have fun with our neighbors." Today for the Halloween event the staff even prepared some pretty sweet bags with goodies for the kids.
In addition to the bags from the managers we gave out seat cushions with our logo as well as candy at every game. Tonight we had 2 moon bounces, music and games for the kids.
As I get pictures I'll put some up. I'm so pumped at what God is doing at Focal Point! Please be in prayer as we follow up this week with all of the families who came to Treat Street '06!
BTW: All of our advertising mentioned "Halloween" ;)
...but if I see one more stinkin church sign advertising a "Fall Harvest" or "Fall Festival" on October 31st I'm going to flip out.
Call it what it is... HALLOWEEN! You're not jumping in and worshiping Satan, you're calling it what the rest of the world calls it. Are we so clever to think that an 'alternative' name fakes out the rest of the world... they won't get the fact that we're still celebrating the same thing???
Call it what it is...
Okay... I'm done...
Refresh your Bowells
I just watched a fantastic message called "Snakes On the Pews". The message is about how the church as a whole has people that can screw you up and many times because of dealing with people in the church who hurt you, you may want to give up. One thing that hit me: "The sharpest knife is held by the closest friend."
I've had my share of 'friends' turn on me in an instant. When I got into the ministry I made a commitment not to become callosed to people. I didn't want to become what many Pastors I had observed became. I observed Pastors who seemed to keep a little distance between themselves and people in the church.
I have a friends in the ministry who want to quit everyday because of people within the church who keep pulling for power. I've experienced loss by people who've attacked and then claim that they are victims. Problems in the church have been around since the first church.
This message addresses the pain the comes along with the church. It warns us not to confuse Jesus with the church. I encourage you to take 40 minutes and watch this video:
Click Here for the video
Ask, Seek, Knock
Those are the words going through my mind over the last few weeks.
This blog was started over three years ago to serve several purposes:
1. An outlet for all of those 'I get it now' moments. A casual review of my blog from time to time helps to remind me of the journey I've been on over the last several years.
2. A networking tool to meet other men and women who share similar passions and experiences. Over the last three years those same people have become friends and in some cases 'spiritual sandpaper' to help me grow in my walk.
3. A way for me to minister to others beyond our walls. Like many of you I have considered the blog to be a place where I can 'decorate the neighborhood'. By adding my home as an offramp to the superhighway I figured it would be a place where others could come and get a boost. If anything they can say "Well at least I'm not that guy."
The blog has turned into more than I expected. Honestly the blog has become all of the above and more. Through the blog world I've been able to be ministered too beyond what I've ever contributed and for that I'm grateful. I've read many of your stories and kept up with what your church is doing over the years. When you succeed I end up talking to my wife about it and sharing your story with my friends. I've found that there really isn't such a thing as a 'blog world'. There are networks of people who I would enjoy hanging out with on a regular basis who happen to be doing the same thing that I do in all parts of the world. It's been a cool experience.
I say all of that to say this. Someone in the blog world read a post about us needing to raise some funds and after hearing the details via email, decided to pitch in. When I opened my email up yesterday I was so excited to see that a commitment was made to invest in what God is doing here at Focal Point by a person who I read on a regular basis. It brings us one step closer to seeing God's plan come to fruition. To that friend I say Thank You!
I share this story because I'm not the type of guy to ask for help very much. I've had to learn in church planting that I have to get over it.
"?Of all the challenges of leadership, the one I was least prepared for is what I have come to call 'The Resource Challenge.'? I was to learn the hard way that unless I was willing to become the CRR (chief resource raiser) our new church would be short lived. It would starve to death from lack of funding." -- Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership
So where we sit today is one step closer to God meeting our need and I figured that many of you who keep up with our story (and have for a few years) would want to know if he was doing something so that you had the opportunity to be a part of it.
Now, I'm not going into details on the blog about what is going on behind the scenes but if you are interested in PRAYING for us to meet this challenge or you are interested in PRAYING about helping to fund the challenge, shoot me an email and I'll send you the incredible story of what God is doing. I assure you that once you hear what has been going on you too will see that this is a God-thing in motion and he's getting all of the credit for it. So I look forward to hearing from you.. if you want to pray for us in particular or if you believe you'd be willing to pray about helping to fund the project... let me hear from you.
In the meantime I'd ask everyone to pray in general for the changes in our ministry as propels us forward and brings about these awesome changes at Focal Point Church!
Pray for People
We do 'connection cards' at Focal Point similar to what many churches do. We ask everyone to fill one out and give us feedback or prayer requests or just say hello. Well, each week we get powerful cards. Some weeks it's a monster of a prayer... some weeks it's a praise and sometimes it's just good encouragement or a joke from a friend in the crowd.
This week was no different. A mom asking for prayer and counsel in dealing with her daughter who's been putting herself into damaging situations as well as another card from a young woman who wants to 'get out of the way so Jesus can keep doing what he's doing in my life'. Awesome.
Guys, Gals.... people look to us and they trust us to come through by praying for them. I was just thinking here tonight as I watch the game "Tally, pray for these whom I've put into your path." So I did. I stopped and prayed. I want to encourage you to stop and do the same for the people God has you connected to. Cool? Cool.
Teams are vital. I read Perry's post about his team and Matt's post about his. God is putting a new team around me right now and well... I like it alot!
Some of the players on the team are making BIG faith steps to be on the team with me and for that I am extremely greatful. Everytime God has wanted to do something huge in my life it seems like he's always put me on a bumpy road just before he revealed his plan in it all. His plan is taking shape and although there are a few unknowns... most of the picture is illuminated and I gotta say... I love what he's up to.
One of the things about this team is that I see how he's brought a few guys who are very similar to me around me. They get where I'm coming from and what seems like common sense to me is common sense to them. That my friends is not commonplace in ministry. I'm pretty stoked right now about what's up God's sleeve... Keep us in your prayers.
Also keep in your prayers the funding I need to raise. It's vital that God grants us favor with a few people and churches to pitch in. This one is a God thing that He'll get every ounce of credit for. I pray you see God's hand in your life and ministry this week. It's a pretty cool ride when you know who's behind it all!
Teams are good.
wow. Check out this video called "True North".
link via Mike Jones
produced by Crossroads Community Church
I was thinking about how much I love what I do. Not because it's easy (it's not), not because people 'get me' (many don't) but because as a child of God with a vision for God's church I enjoy a quiet sense of calm knowing that the pieces are being moved into place for what God is about to do.
In that quiet confidence however I've thought of some things that would have made this process better. Not from a point of God letting anything down but rather from man's approach to doing this church-planting thing.
1. Organizations planting churches should focus on quality over quantity. I'm speaking mainly about orgs that do major financing here. Investing resources in 100's of churches is a waste if they all still need your resources in 5 years. I've come to believe that it's better to take those same resources and fund 20 solid churches very well. Find better criteria to judge who will make a good planter and fund the heck out of them.
2. Team planting is the only way to go. I would never again plant a church flying solo. A voice from the Lord would be the only thing that would ever get me to go at it alone.... and frankly I don't think He'd ask that of his people. Churches are to be planted in teams. There are TONS of benefits to a team plant. The biggest of which is the built in support system and the fact that each of you has one another's back. It's cool to talk to other planters and they help out a ton but the reality is that those doing the planting with you have the best view of the situation. They have their 'boots on the ground' so to speak. If you are considering planting... don't open your doors until you have a team you trust and love working alongside you.
BTW- Tadd is doing a fantastic job at this down at Pine Ridge Church
3. I wish fewer people said "Let us know if we can help you." Before you misunderstand me, read the rest. In church planting there are always needs. As a planter it is extremely tough to ask people for help. We have to do this and we will if we want the plant to grow but I honestly wish that those who are genuine about helping would say "What need can we meet today?" I've had people ask me this question and it is a dramatic difference to hear this versus "Let us know..." It seems as though the "Let us know..." crowd is almost saying that out of obligation. Never when I wanted to help the poor have I looked at the poor man and said "Let me know if I can help you sometime." I've always just given. No questions, no show. I've just simply said "Here you go." Other times when I didn't feel compelled to give I have walked on by. (When you grow up in Baltimore this happens rather frequently) So I guess I'd say to those who want to help church planters... don't tell them to 'let you know'. Just go and say "We want to help. What can we do?"
4. Church planting is viewed as an "Us v. Them" issue. It's not. We're all in this together. Church planters step away from the comfort zone. Most church planters have great hearts and great passion for reaching the lost. They are not the enemy of any church. It would be cool to see the church of the Living God begin to look at church planters as their brother/sisters instead of competitors. It would also be cool if church planters didn't blast their elders so much. Guys, if I want to wear different clothes than my parents, I don't start doing that by blasting my parents for their preferences. I just change my style.
Lets date again
During the last few weeks you've missed me. I know.
It's not you it's me. I've been traveling, praying, reading... but not blogging. Don't take it as a slight. When you love someone let them go and if they come back it was meant to be.... or some other garbage my seventh grade girlfriend told me...
On to life...
~Spent the last two weeks with my best friend John. Lots of cool stuff emerging from that. Not in the 'I don't believe in truth' sense of emerging but rather the 'bringing about a newness' type of emerging.
~This week I toured an amazing old church building for sale in Norfolk. I don't get impressed with church buildings but this one (built in 1922) blew me away. Standing on the platform I was reminded of Sister Act where they renovated a church, made it relevant to the community and blew the doors off with Jesus-type of love. Ohh how I long to be part of that in my lifetime. I'm praying for 2 million dollars for that or for another church with the same passion to buy the place before a developer gets their hands on it. What a shame that would be.
~Has your wife ever shocked you by saying that she had been quietly praying for something/someone for a period of time AFTER you tell her what God may be doing???
~I have to raise some funds. I've never really done this before. I've raised smaller amounts before we started but it feels much different needing to raise it now. If your church treasurer has a hole in their pocket give them my email address, God is doing something... On a serious note I appreciate your prayers as I speak to a few people to see if this need can be met. It could change our church in a huge way.
~I've been asked recently how to persevere when things get rocky. Simple. Punch holes in your wall and then realize that you're under the sovereign hand of God. Since I'm no longer a teenager and since I don't enjoy pain and because I pay insurance deductibles, I've learned to skip the first part and trust God's hand. The way I see it is that if he's given you a vision and it's truly from HIM, he's basically going to do it. It's only up to me to follow from now until then. Abraham was given a promise and if you read the promise in Genesis God said "I will" over half a dozen times. The only "you will" on Abrahams part was "You will be a blessing". I believe in a God who's in the "I will" business and it's amazing how often he wants us to be like Abraham and simply be a blessing. So if God has called you to it, just focus on being the best blessing you can be. Work hard and pray hard. He Will do what He Wills.
I'm convinced more than ever that far too few Christians have truly experienced the power of the Word of God transforming their being. Among those who have shared in this blessing are far too many who attach that experience to a moment in their life as opposed to a revolution of their soul. I'm begging God to allow me to be a vessel of his transforming power. I want the words I speak into the lives of the called be words of transformation, restoration and exaltation. I pray that no matter the venue people will be confident to know that when we approach God's word together we can be assured of the phrase "Thus sayeth the Lord."
As students of Jesus we'd experience his transforming power in a more intimate way if we'd learn to make much of him and less of ourselves, much of his Word and less of our own and much of His presence in our lives and less of the distractions around us. Christians get dry when they aren't being watered by the Word of God, Fellowship of his people, awe of his creation, etc. Its as if we live in the middle of God's writing on the wall and yet we walk on by. I pray for all of us who represent Christ's called that we would be living examples of a life completely and joyfully satisfied by Him. Let none of us go into our sermon tomorrow thirsty but rather let us be overflowing with the realization of who God is.
Our words always carry the weight of our hearts. I'm praying that my words tomorrow come with the power and grace of the very heart of God. I pray for his people to be compelled to follow in spite of all else. Not that they follow me or any plans I may have but that they would follow the calling of God to the ends of the earth singing the Lord's song on their heart.