Feb 132012
 

Hey Church at the Grove!  I love our church!  I am so thankful for a body of people willing to lay their lives on the line to glorify God and take the gospel to the world.  I am fired up about leading people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples.  Yesterday I preached at our Social Circle location and it was awesome to be there with Nathan and our incredible team that is creating an environment for people to explore faith.  We are consistently having new people show up and now there are families that are coming each week!

Here are a few thoughts for our church:

Let’s keep it all about Jesus!
We live in an increasingly pluralistic culture where it has become a bit taboo to speak the name of Jesus in an exclusive way.  The gospel of Jesus is the ONLY hope we have for having a meaningful, significant and purposeful life!  Let’s keep it ALL ABOUT Jesus!  I don’t mean that we abandon the freedom for people to explore faith at their own pace.  We should be accepting, loving and kind to people from all perspectives and backgrounds BUT it really is ALL ABOUT JESUS!

Keep Praying!
We entered this year with a intensive focus on prayer, especially for our campus launch in Social Circle.  We must continue to depend on God!   Let’s continue to passionately ask God to act on behalf of the mission He has called us to.  Let’s pray that He works in lives to bring people to faith in Jesus.  Let’s pray that God works in father’s hearts and works in families in a way that transforms lives!  Let’s continue to pray that God gives us favor and credibility with our local community and ministry partnerships.  Let’s continue to pray!

I read this recently from Mark Batterson on prayer:
“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”  “And until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply.”

Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church!
Let me be honest!  It’s not about YOU!  We have an incredible group of people that serve and make Church at the Grove a great church BUT we always need more people to simply jump in and find a place to serve.  When people are looking for a church, the prevalent pray should be “God, where do you want my family to partner with you in your mission?” rather than, “God where do you want us to be to have our needs met?”  JUMP IN somewhere and serve!

Encourage Each Other!
Yesterday’s message at both our campuses was about authentic relationships and our need for encouragement and accountability.  Are you engaged in a small group of relationships that encourage you to grow spiritually?  Are you connected in a Community Group?  We will not grow spiritually as God desires until we are connected in meaningful relationships of encouragement.  You cannot grow spiritually the way God intended simply sitting in rows on Sunday staring at the back of other people’s heads.  As we say at The Grove, “Circles are better than rows!”

Give generously!
I have been amazed at how generous Church at the Grove has been especially over the past year or so.  Our financial situation looked pretty dismal two years ago and because of faithful giving and generosity we actually exceeded our budget last year.  I certainly am not in “panic mode” but we are behind our budget so far for 2012.  Please continue your generous giving and if you haven’t stepped out in faith to give, don’t miss out on the blessing that God has in store when we give generously.  You can give on Sundays or on-line at www.churchatthegrove.com

Be a missionary!
See yourself as a missionary to the people in the circles of relationships that you travel!  Who are you praying for and investing in that is a neighbor, family member or co-worker?  Please keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities for CATGrove to invest in our community and then take the initiative yourself to step in and make something happen!  Don’t feel like you have to wait for the church to organize something.  You are commissioned as a missionary!  Go for it!  You have permission!

Easter is coming!
Easter is April 8 and it is a great opportunity to invite someone to join you at CATGrove!  You can read more about how to leverage Easter here!

 

 Posted by at 1:05 pm
Feb 062012
 

Our Social Circle campus pastor Nathan Boyd (via Perry Noble) shared this with our launch team a few months back in preparation for launching our second campus in Social Circle.  We must continue to advance the gospel through church planting and multiplying movements!

1. Because we understand that found people find people…and we will not stop doing whatJesus commanded us to do.

  • Matthew 28:18-20- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field”

2. Because we understand that saved people serve people…and we will not stop doing what the Bible commands of us.

  • 1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
  • Matthew 20:28 – “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

3. Because we understand that growing people change…and we will not stop praying for Jesus to change us.

  • Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

4. Because we understand that we can’t do life alone…and we will obey what the Lord has instructed us to do in Hebrews 10:24-25.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

5. Because we understand that we cannot out give God…and so we will obey what God’s Word teaches.

  • Malachi 3:6-12- ‘”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
  • Proverbs 3:9-10- “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine
 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Jan 302012
 

We have experienced enormous blessing over the last year and specifically over this past month as we have launched our new campus in Social Circle!  We continue to see new people added to both our campuses this month!   We are growing and it is exciting!

Here is my BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL and desire for Church at the Grove right now!  Are you ready?!
Let’s keep growing!  Yeah, I said it!  Let’s keep growing and here are the specific areas I want us to focus on growing:
Let’s keep growing numerically!  
  • I will never apologize for wanting and desiring our church to grow numerically.  Do a word study in the book of Acts on the word “numbers” and you will see that Luke records over and over when people were added to the church.  If our mission is to lead people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples then we should be adding people.
  • I want to see 100 people baptized this year!  There, I said it!  I believe it can happen.
  • I believe that we can average over 500 people in attendance by September this year!
Let’s grow spiritually!
  • I want us to have more people reading their Bibles daily.
  • I want to have more people engaged in serving their community.
  • I want to have more people being transformed into the image of Jesus in every area of their life.
  • I want to see more people sharing the gospel with their family and friends.
  • I want to see more people investing in people and inviting them to our Sunday CATGrove gatherings.
  • I want to hear about more families having a nightly family devotional/prayer time.
  • I want more marriages to grow stronger and healthier.
  • I want to see more people involved in Community Group Bible Study.
Let’s grow relationally!
  • I would love to set a record this fall for how many people are involved in Community Groups.
  • I challenge you to make more time to simply develop your friendships and relationships this year.
  • Make time for people.
  • Come early and stay a little late on Sundays so you can have a conversation with some people you don’t know that well.
  • Plan to get to know some of our newer attendees over this next month!
  • Remember, we are about PEOPLE!
I love Jesus!  I love what He is doing.  I love Church at the Grove!
 Posted by at 11:26 pm
Jan 272012
 
In February of 2008 I was ready to quit.
We had planted Church at the Grove in September 2006 and had an exciting launch and quick growth in the first year and a half.  There were several disappointing circumstances at the end of 2007 that led some families to leave the church.  Our attendance was stagnant and I was simply tired and discouraged.  Our financial support would be ending later in the year and the numbers did not add up for us to be self-sustaining.  I spent some time on more than one occasion looking at the classifieds in the paper thinking I could get a “regular” job and be a great volunteer leader to a pastor somewhere.
I called one of my most encouraging friends, Mike Linch, pastor of NorthStar Church in northwest Cobb County where I had served almost 5 years as student pastor.  I knew Mike understood what I was going through after planting NorthStar several years earlier. He shared with me some of the ups and downs he personally had experienced and then gave some simply, yet profound advice.
Don’t Give Up! Hang in there!  Give it some time!  Think Long!
I listened and God has blessed my “Thinking Long”!  I am in this for the long haul!  I love church planting!  I love Church at the Grove.  I intend to honor God and spread the gospel through a long term commitment to a local church that plants churches!
I am reading Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around your Biggest Dreams and Biggest Fears.  In the book Batterson issues a challenge to “Think Long” in our prayers, dreams and ambition to see God move.
He states,
“We live in a quick-fix, real-time culture. Between the news ticker and Twitter, we’re always in the know, always in the now. We don’t just want to have our cake and eat it too; we want the instant brand. We want to reap the second after we sow, but this isn’t the way it works with dreaming big and praying hard. We need the patience of the planter. We need the foresight of the farmer. We need the mindset of the sower.”
Batterson goes on to tell this incredible story about “Thinking Long”:

“On the Swedish island Visingsö, there is a mysterious forest of oak trees; mysterious because oak trees aren’t indigenous to the island, and its origin was unknown for more than a century. Then in 1980, the Swedish Navy received a letter from the Forestry Department reporting that their requested ship lumber was ready. The Navy didn’t even know it had ordered any lumber. After a little historical research, it was discovered that in 1829, the Swedish Parliament, recognizing that it takes oak trees 150 years to mature and anticipating a shortage of lumber at the turn of the twenty-first century, ordered that 20,000 oak trees be planted on Visingsö and protected for the Navy. That is thinking long. For the record, the lone objector was the Bishop of Strängnäs. He didn’t doubt that there would still be wars to fight at the end of the twentieth century, but he was the only one who anticipated that ships might be built of other materials by then.”
Chances are some pastors and church planters reading this might be in the midst of some discouragement and doubt about continuing on.  Listen:
Don’t give up! Hang in there! Give it some time! Think Long!
 Posted by at 7:10 pm