Feb 242011

This past Sunday I was heckled by a homeless person! I experienced something I have never experienced before!  I have had people walk off the street and come to worship before and I once had a teenager get up and slam his metal chair down and walk out because he didn’t like what I was saying but I have never had a person verbally respond during the entire sermon.

Here is exactly what happened.  We have a group of  men in our church that have been burdened to reach out to the homeless community and have begun to build relationships with people living in a tent village in Lilburn and tent village in the Athens area.  This past Sunday a man came to church with them from the Athens community.  He suffers from an injury to his head that causes “Tourette” type responses.  He was excited to be at Church at the Grove and could not contain himself during our worship service and wanted to respond and be a part of what was going on.

Was it a distraction?  I can’t lie! Yes!  But is it a distraction that we will learn to live with? YES! Here’s why:

We set out over 4 years ago to reach out to those “least likely to go to church” and God has blessed our heart, mission and vision.  We will not stop now!

  • Everybody’s welcome!
  • Nobody’s perfect!
  • Anything’s possible through Jesus! Philippians 4:13

Keep Praying, Keep Investing, Keep Inviting!

 Posted by at 5:17 pm
Feb 182011

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 11:34 am
Feb 102011

What an incredible weekend at Church at the Grove! We continue to have record crowds at CATGrove and this past Sunday we had several place their faith in Jesus and turn to follow Him for the first time!

We had a great “Next Steps” gathering and several people turned in their membership covenant to join CATG!

I had a blast hanging with our students at the Nealin house watching the Super Bowl!  So much fun.  God continues to work and change lives!  Here are a few thoughts from our first week of “EKG: All of life comes from the heart!”

The mouth is the stethoscope to the heart.

If you want to know what’s in someone’s heart, listen to what they say.

Matthew 15:17–19 (ESV)

17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

23 Above all else, guard your heart,

for it is the wellspring of life.

All you do comes from the heart!!

All of life comes from the heart!!

Christianity is not about behavior! God wants to give us a new heart!

Guard what comes in & what goes out!

 Posted by at 2:56 pm
Feb 102011

There was an event that took place this past Sunday that is actually a national phenomenon.  It is amazing how our culture recognizes and responds to Super Bowl Sunday.  People that never watch football set aside time on Super Bowl Sunday to party and hang out with friends while the game is on.  I saw that someone posted on Facebook that going to Wal-Mart on Sunday felt like the week before Christmas.  It’s insane.

I think it is interesting and valuable to distinguish the hundred thousand spectators in the stands from the 100 plus players and coaches that experience the game on the field.  Both fans and players enjoy the excitement and passion of the game but they experience the game from quite different perspectives.

To get to the point: The experience for the players and coaches on the field offers a significance, joy and excitement that cannot come close to being equaled by those spectators observing from a distance.  It does not compare!

It is the same in the church, the body of Christ!  Those that come and sit Sunday after Sunday might enjoy their experience and gain some value, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of those that “get in the game” through serving and taking part!  It is so much more fulfilling to jump in and serve through the different ministry teams that make our Sunday Gathering happen.

Whether it is setting up, breaking down, preparing coffee, greeting, ushering or handing out a program, it is so fulfilling to know you are taking part in creating an environment where people will actually experience and encounter God in a personal way!

Please consider jumping in and serving on one of our Sunday Serve teams and experience the fulfillment God offers through utilizing and exercising your spiritual gifts and talents.

Remember:  Great churches are not grown on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifice and service of many!

Church at the Grove is becoming a great church!  Let’s continue to move forward!
Keep praying, Keep investing, Keep inviting!

 Posted by at 2:44 pm