Nov 242007

I have taken a few days off from blogging with the holiday.  Here are a few things I am thinking about being thankful for:

  • I am thankful for my personal family.  I have a brother, mother and many extended family members that are a blessing.
  • I am thankful for my GREAT relationships with in-laws.  They are more like family than in-laws.
  • I am thankful for the BEST wife in the world.  She puts up with me (that is enough) and she is a great mom!
  • I am thankful for Church at the Grove.  It is a dream to be able to be a part of a church like ours.
  • I am thankful for Craig, Sandy, David, Rosemary, Nathan and those that helped us start CATGrove.
  • I am thankful for the incredible people that volunteer every week to make Church at the Grove a reality.  Set-up teams, hospitality teams, greeter teams, sound and worship teams, children’s ministry teams, breakdown teams, trailer pulling teams and on and on…..
  • I am thankful for Summit, NorthStar, Ken and Linda Coggins, Larry and Milton, SMBA and New Work, Concord, Appalachee and all the others that have helped make CATGrove a reality.
  • I am thankful for Terry Little that has been BIG in encouraging and coaching me.
  • I am thankful for Nana, Philip, Becca, Walter, Mercy, Bliss and Thomas……they are just like family!
  • I am thankful for Mammie and Eddie who influenced me toward Jesus!
  • I am thankful for Doug, Scott and IMPACT that gave me a passion for ministry.
  • I am thankful for Mike, Ike and NorthStar and the chance they gave me to grow in leadership and ministry.
  • Did I say that I was thankful for Jill, my best friend, companion and encourager.
  • I am thankful for so many friends that have allowed me to share life with them. 
  • I am thankful for Martin Luther and the Gutenburg printing press.
  • I am thankful for six UGA wins in a row over the Jackets.  (Let’s make it seven!)  See this blog for some great UGA-TECH pictures.
  • I am thankful for the joy of being Josiah’s, Abigail’s, and Caleb’s Dad.
  • I am thankful for food to eat, shelter over my head, and the blessing of living in a country that values freedom. 
  • I am thankful for the soldiers in the past and present that have sacrificed for our freedom.
  • Whew!!!!  That is a lot, but we have a lot to be thankful for!

Let’s live grateful lives everyday!

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Nov 212007

I am convinced that unless we revisit important and key values in any area of life that we tend to drift into the mindless complexity imposed upon us by our culture.  If we do not constantly go back to what is our purpose and mission for life and orchestrate our daily decisions around these values, we become enslaved to the “tyranny of the urgent” in daily life.  If you don’t have a purpose and schedule life according to that purpose, we will allow everyone and everything else’s purpose to direct us on a daily and weekly basis. 

People still ask why I (we) would start a church when there are plenty of churches in this community and all over the United States.  The overly simplistic answer to this question is “to fulfill the Great Commission here in our community and all over the world.”  What does this mean and how does it play out in planting a local church in a community that has many other churches? 

Ed Stetzer, in his book Planting Missional Churches, shares with us some amazing statistics related to the “church-to-population ratio” in the United States.

  • In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
  • In 1950, there were 17 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
  • In 2000, there were 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
  • In 2004, the latest year available, there are 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans. 

You can easily begin to see the need for starting new churches simply by looking at the lack of new churches started to keep up with the explosive population growth!  That does not even take into consideration the number of churches that close their doors every week because they have lost the ability to have influence in the lives of people in their community.  Churches are dying every week and their needs to be new churches birthed in communities that can reach people with the gospel of Jesus.

NOW, consider that the existing churches in many communities are doing a good job at assimilating those “already convinced” Christians by providing good children’s, youth, and adult programs that keep everyone busy and happy.  Many existing churches have either never had any influence or they have lost their ability to influence the people in their community who are “unconvinced”, “disconnected” or “unchurched”.  We know that 85% or more of those people in their 20’s and 30’s do not go to church anywhere.  The percentage of people that do not go to church increases with each younger age group and generation. 

Here is the question?  How are we (Jesus Followers) going to reach these younger generations that will not ever step into an existing church that focuses more on the “already convinced”? 

We must start new churches that can be “laser focused” on taking Jesus to these younger “unconvinced” “people groups”!

That is why Church at the Grove exists!  We started Church at the Grove to reach out to “those least likely to go to church”!

That is why we will not accept doing church for:

  • People that are currently unhappy at their church.
  • People that simply want more contemporary music.
  • People that like wearing jeans and leaving their shirts untucked.
  • People that want a new environment for their children.
  • People that want “cool” teaching with pastors that build brick walls and throw skittles around.
  • People that want to come and sit and do nothing to help us reach disconnected and unconvinced people.
  • People that want to shop churches until they can find where they can be fed.
  • People that have no intention to serve and get involved.

We will be laser focused on the mission that God gave us in the beginning:

We exist to develop people who follow Jesus and Make Disciples.  We want to be intentional in going after those people that are the least likely to go to church.  We will create environments where people can explore faith at their own pace.  We encourage relationships through community groups and we will BE IN OUR COMMUNITY to start discussions that lead to sharing the hope found in Jesus!

Check out this post from a while back and ask God to create a passion and a compassion in your heart for unconvinced people.  Ask God to show you where He wants you to be to maximize your gifts and influence for His Kingdom!

Be thankful for the person, people, and/or the church that influenced YOU toward Jesus and then get out of your “church bubble” and walk across your street, room, neighborhood or community to talk to someone about Jesus!

 Posted by at 1:04 pm
Nov 192007

Here are some random thoughts about the weekend and the coming week:

  • For the second Friday in a row I was actually off on my “day off”.  I spent the day at home with the family and while Jill was speaking at a girls youth retreat, I went to spend some time with my mom.  She had hot wings and fries waiting for me! 
  • Saturday I was able to deliver a gift to a sweet lady in our community that has a terminally ill son.  Because of the generosity of people at CATGrove, this sweet lady was moved to tears.  We were able to pay some on her electric bill and give her a gift card.  I love being able to help people this way!
  • I was able to watch the DAWGS beat the CATS with my buddy Gid.  Can you say “Big Screen” and “Surround Sound”.  It was a good day in the Bulldawg Nation.  To top it off, the guy who runs our media shout on Sundays is a huge Kentucky fan and I was able to recognize him yesterday morning while he wore his DAWG jersey.  We had a little wager and ……let’s just say I am thankful I didn’t have to wear the royal blue sweater vest!
  • Yesterday was an incredible day at CATGrove.  Our crowd was down a little with the holiday week but it was not down as much as I thought it would be.  Craig did an excellent job with the final message in this series on personal finances.  We will now spend three weeks concluding the “Rich Man Poor Man” series on how God uses our faithfulness to change our community and world. 
  • David and the band were awesome yesterday!  The song choices were great!  Great worship!
  • I love my community group!  I am going to miss meeting after next Sunday night!  We have one more week left and then we will take a break.  We will be starting new groups in January. 
  • I can’t get Social Circle out of my mind.  I really believe God wants us to be a part of starting something there soon!
  • I can’t get the idea out of my mind that there are people in this community that need to hear about Jesus!  I fear that we will get into our holiday routine, stay busy and use this as a reason to justify not connecting and inviting people.
  • I can’t wait for “Shop With A Hero”!  It is going to be incredible!
  • Jill and I will head south to her family farm on Wednesday, come back Thursday night and then eat with my family on Friday.  I am thankful for our family. 
  • What are you thankful for this week?
 Posted by at 8:12 am
Nov 162007

Here we go again with the sports world and specifically baseball being rocked again with scandal.  More of the same with Barry Bonds.  We continue to see pro sports stars stumble in areas of character and integrity.

Dr. Tim Elmore speaks in his HABITUDES series that helps form leadership habits and attitudes regarding the:

“Over-sized Gift:

Leaders are often gifted.  They can begin to depend on their gift for success, to the neglect of their character.  Leaders sabotage themselves when their gift is bigger than they are.”

Is this possibly the problem with Barry Bonds and many others like him.  Is it possible that this could happen to someone in the church who is a great speaker or a great singer? 

Check out Seth’s Blog here and realized that we can’t tell two stories at the same time…….at least not for long.

Mike Linch blogs here about how our lives in a moment can become headlines and all the good we have done will seem insignificant in light of the current headline. 

 Posted by at 11:43 pm