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 112012
 

I took part in an online webinar with the outreachninja.com guys led by Bob Franqiz and it was excellent with ideas for leveraging Easter to reach more people.  My wheels have been turning and here are some ways to prepare to make Easter huge in getting the gospel of Jesus to more people

 

1.  Pray

There is nothing more effective than praying that the Lord of the Harvest will work on your behalf to reach more people with the gospel in and through your church.  As Pastor/Leader, start with yourself and then enlist your leadership and church to pray for people to engage, invest and invite their friends to join you for worship at Easter.

 

2.  Communicate

Easter is different than most holidays in that it doesn’t happen on the same day every year.  Sometimes it’s not even in the same month!  Most people in your church are thinking more about Spring Break than Easter right now.  You must communicate early and often WHEN Easter is on the calendar.  By the way, Easter is on April 8 this year.

 

3.  Creatively promote

Utilize fun, creative ways to promote Easter as an opportunity for people to invite their friends and family to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Troy Gramling of Potential Church in Florida utilizes the INVITE Bunny in “on the street” interviews to “stoke” the creative “fires” and to get people to invite their friends.

 

4.  Put something in their hands

Give the people in your church an “invite” card that they can give to their friends, family or people they come in contact with in the community.

 

5.  Equip people on how to invite their friends

Shawn Lovejoy of Mountain Lake Church teaches the people in his church how to invite their friends and neighbors AND he makes the evangelistic temperature in his church “white hot” leading up to Easter.

 

6.  Schedule Community Service through Your Community Groups

Nelson Searcy from Journey Church and Church Leader Insights encourages his Small Groups to do outreach events leading up to Easter to get the word out to the community about Easter Sunday.

 

7.  Utilize Lent Calendar for Prayer and Fasting

Mark Batterson of National Community Church utilizes Lent as a season of fasting and prayer to prepare his church for Easter.  They organize prayer walks and prayer lists to prepare people to reach out to their friends and family prior to Easter.

 Posted by at 11:08 am
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
Feb 032012
 

God often takes us into a dessert experience to do a deep work in private before he performs a broad work through us in public.

A life that is characterized by spiritual depth is most often cultivated in time spent in solitude, quietness and obscurity.
Paul experienced this dessert obscurity and solitude immediately following his Damascus Road conversion.

Galatians 1:15–18 (ESV)
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.

 

Paul spent 3 years in dessert obscurity for the purpose of preparing him for the ministry to which Jesus had called him.
I am reading Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit by Charles Swindoll, and I cannot remember EVER being taught about Paul’s 3 year journey into the dessert.  Why did he spend 3 years in the dessert prior to his public ministry?
Before we answer why, let’s take a look at who else spent time in obscurity before their ministry went public:
  • Moses fled to the plains of Midian and tended sheep for 40 years before God used him to free the Israelites from Egypt.
  • David spent 13 years as a fugitive in the caves of Engedi where many of his Psalms were born before assuming the throne of Israel he was anointed for when he was a boy.
  • Joseph spent time in jail unjustly accused in Egypt before he ascended to a place of authority that would allow God to use him to protect his family from famine.
  • Elijah spent time hiding in the wilderness being fed by ravens.
  • John the Baptist ate locust and honey for most of his ministry.  He announced the public ministry of the Messiah and he was beheaded as a reward for going public with the truth of a political leader.
Here are 3 areas that God often works on while we are in the dessert:
  1. God often desires to forge in us a work of lasting transformation and character.  To do the work of God in ministry we must have a heart for people, we must craft our theology and we need to cultivate an identity solely in Christ.
  2. Often it takes time to discover what REALLY matters.  In the dessert experience we learn that to be great leaders we must lead in areas that truly matter to God!
  3. When we are so busy and fixing everyone else at breakneck speed, we simply can’t hear God’s voice clearly.  God takes us into solitude in order to slow down, get quiet and listen to his still, small voice.
I spent some time in the dessert under a pastor that lacked integrity and leadership.  It was in that experience that I learned to depend on God.  My relationship with my wife grew stronger during this time as we leaned into God and one another.

The church I planted and now pastor went through a very difficult period two years into the plant.  It was a bit of a dessert experience where I learned what really mattered.  

Have you spent some time in the dessert?  What did you learn?
 Posted by at 5:57 pm