May 212008

There is a lady in our church that God is using in a HUGE way.  Her name is Madolyn and she personally had responsibility for having at least 20 guest at CATGrove this past Sunday.  When it comes to living a missional life and accepting the call to live as a missionary in our culture, what can we learn from Madolyn? 

  • She had an authentic, genuine, life transforming encounter with Jesus and it has clearly impacted her daily life.  See 2 Cor. 5:17
  • As a result of her encounter, she lives life differently.  She is transformed and walks with Jesus in a passionate, personal way every day of her life.  I am not saying she is perfect, I am saying she loves Jesus.  See John 10:10.
  • She sees people through the lens of Jesus.  She lived an unchurched, non-christian existence for many years and she can identify with people outside the church.  She sees them with compassion rather than look at them with a critical heart.  See Matt. 9:36
  • She is willing to live life with people that are far from God.  She rubs shoulders with people that are outside the faith and simply need to experience the love of God.  See Matthew 11:19
  • She understands the value of involvement in the local church.  She has found a church she loves and is excited about bringing new people to.  She knows that it is important to connect people in relationship with other followers.  See Matthew 16:15-19
  • She is willing to adjust her time, schedule and life to BE WITH people.  See Matt. 28:18-20

May we all follow Jesus in such a way that transforms us and reflects Jesus to others.  See Luke 19.10

 Posted by at 1:34 pm
May 202008

Russ and Jill in NY 

Jill and I took a trip to New York City last Monday through Wednesday.  It was the first time in the Big Apple for both of us.  Here are some things I observed:

  • People don’t talk to one another on public transportation.
  • At least half of everyone in New York has an Ipod or MP3 player with earphones in their ears.  Maybe this is why they don’t talk to each other. 
  • People are in a hurry!
  • No gas stations in Manhattan.
  • I was overwhelmed by the sea of yellow cars!
  • Lots of babies and lots of adults….not much in between.
  • Space is a premium.
  • Its all about the money!

Things I learned from a churchplanting/pastor perspective:

  • People are hungry for community but afraid to risk it.  It is safe to hide behind an Ipod.
  • You can be fulfilled with measurable success working 70+ hours a week and avoid the risks and rejection associated with relational fulfillment………for a while.
  • My stereotype of New York people being rude and obnoxious was blown away.  New York people were extremely nice and helpful.  Stereotypes aren’t always true.
  • New York subways are underground and remain unseen until they are needed.  They are absolutely necessary to the daily success of everything in New York.  Lesson:  Probably the most valuable and necessary systems in a church are easily taken for granted, but the unseen systems that are working out-of-sight during the week are more important than what happens on Sundays.  Subways move people in position to grow and do their job.  Systems in a church move people in position to grow spiritually and connect relationally.   We must develop “subway” systems in our church to move people efficiently!
  • Make the most of what you have.  In New York people have to make the most of their space.  In churchplanting, resources are not always abundant and we have to learn how to make the most with what is available. 
  • People can’t function without other people.  Although it may seem safe to hide behind an ipod, at some point you have to take the earplugs out and interact with other people to survive.  Relationships done right makes for a great church!
  • People are moved by service and kindness.  Seeing how New Yorkers have responded to “outsiders” love, care, and kindness following 9-11 has opened them up to further dialogue concerning spiritual and truth issues.  You can see how overwhelmed people in New York have been to the kindness of the nation and the world. 
  • Money does not solve all of our problems.  New York is the financial capital of the world and you still see people struggle with significance and meaning.
  • People long for truth in a relational context.  People want more than just the right answers.  People are longing for a relationship with the “Living Answer”.   
 Posted by at 1:06 pm
May 192008

I will have to say that yesterday (Sunday) was an awesome day!  Here’s why:

  • We had baptism yesterday and saw 3 people baptized at the early service and 3 at the late service! 
  • We heard some incredible stories when the baptism testimonies were read. 
  • It was an unspeakable joy to baptize my two oldest children.  Josiah (10), and Abigail (7) were baptized yesterday morning.  It was all I could do to compose myself! 
  • I love having my extended family at CATGrove!  My mother, brother and sister-in-law, and Jill’s parents were there!  My cousin Melinda has been attending regularly, and it was awesome to have her there yesterday.  My niece Meg was there! 
  • Tons of guest there yesterday!  That is one thing I love about baptism! 
  • Yesterday’s message was an absolute joy to give.  I love talking about God’s mercy made available to everyone regardless of what they have done in their past.  The key ingredient that we talked about yesterday was HUMILITY! 
  • Ric and the band were awesome!  The songs were perfect for the day.  The sound mix has been great every week for the past few months.  I am so thankful for those guys that make it happen on Sundays. 
  • Thanks to Craig and Sandy for all their work to make baptism happen! 
  • Chad Spinks is the man!  He oversees all of our set up and breakdown for Sundays and yesterday we had some people out and Chad stepped up big time and made it happen.  Thanks Chad!
  • We had an eternal day on the soccer field Saturday.  Abigail played 3 games.  Josiah played 4 games.  It made for a long day and a severe sunburn, but I loved hanging out with the parents and simply getting to know people. 
  • Soccer season is over!
  • C-3 class last night at Craig and Amy’s house.  I loved hanging out with my friend Lee………even if he IS a Florida gator fan.
  • I passed out last night after a busy week!
 Posted by at 3:57 pm