Mar 172012
 

On March 17 every year we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but most of us don’t know the true story of St. Patrick.

We should all be familiar with Saint Patrick’s missional pursuit of taking the gospel of Christ to Ireland.  Patrick was born in the Roman Empire and was taken as a slave to Ireland.  He left after hearing God speak to him and returned to the Roman Empire for the purpose of preparing (educationally and theologically) to return to Ireland for the sole purpose of sharing Christ with an uncivilized people.  As a result, many Irish monks were equipped and ready to leave Ireland and travel east to Europe where they would share the hope found in Christ.

The message of Christ spread throughout Europe and filled a huge vacuum left as a result of the Barbarian Invasions.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Mar 132012
 

Why in the world is a church from Loganville & Social Circle, Georgia involved in a city on the other side of the world?  Why are we at Church at the Grove in Oradea, Romania.  I am sitting in Oradea, Romania as I write this and I thought it appropriate to share a few thoughts that answer these questions.  We have launched a new “Fellowship of the Grove” in this city led by Pat and Joy Hardin.  Why is Church at the Grove in Oradea, Romania?

We simply want to obey the biblical mandate to go to the whole world to Make Disciples found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.

This is simple and not complicated.  We just want to obey the words of Jesus found in the Word of God, the Bible.  We started in Loganville & Walnut Grove, we have now moved to Social Circle and helped plant in other places like Pennsylvania.  We want to take the gospel to the “ends of the earth”.  Nothing more needed.

We want to live by the Psalm 67:1-2 principle of “paying it forward”.  

God has been so gracious to us and He has blessed us so much with the gospel.  We have WAY more than we need and we believe in the “so that” principle.  He has been gracious and blessed us “so that” we can make Him known to the nations.

We want to cultivate “selflessness” in our lives.

Philippians 2:5-11 describes the character of Jesus & how he left his heavenly throne to come to earth wrapped in human flesh to show us how much God loves us.  He “emptied” himself for us!  We want to live in that same spirit and that same character.  How can we keep the “good news” of God’s love, mercy and grace to ourselves?  How can we escape the wrath of God and not invite others to join us?

Are you living your personal life with the same sense of “mission”?  Are you living day by day with a plan to grow as a disciple of Jesus?  Join with us at Church at the Grove as we seek to fulfill God’s mission for sharing the love of Jesus with our community and the world!  I hope to see you Sunday as we share about our experience here in Romania!

Keep praying, keep investing, keep inviting!

 Posted by at 2:53 am
Feb 202012
 

One of our core values of Church at the Grove is “Intentional Simplicity”.  We desire to keep the MESSAGE and the METHODS simple in our pursuit of leading people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples.

Keeping the Message Simple:
We emphasize that God’s plan was to eliminate unnecessary religious components and make it simple to connect with God.  In order to accomplish this we attempt to remove any and all religious “hoops” that churches can tend to force people through to connect with God through a personal relationship with Jesus.  By religious “hoops” I mean things like dress, worship styles, liturgy (all liturgy is not bad), terminology, or connecting certain disciplines or religious activity to your acceptance with God.  Please don’t get me wrong, we do teach doctrine and we encourage spiritual disciplines as a means to grow spiritually.

Read this: Acts 15:19

The NIV states “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

We are constantly evaluating how we communicate the gospel to our church and our community.  Our desire is to “lead” people and not emotionally coerce people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Keeping the Methods Simple:
We realize that we live in a culture that is more and more demanding on an individual’s and family’s time.  We believe that we (Church at the Grove) can accomplish more by doing less.  I learned in a seminary class that the most committed people in a typical church will potentially spend 14 hours per week on the campus of their church keeping the operations going for that local body.  If they are spending that much time on keeping the church going, there is very little time left to invest in people outside the walls of the church!  Our desire is to simplify the methodology of our church for the purpose of freeing up time for people to invest in the mission of the church.

We do three things at Church at the Grove to accomplish our mission of leading people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples:

  • We create environments where people can explore faith in Jesus at their own pace.
  • We encourage relationships through Community Groups where people can connect in meaningful and discipling friendships.
  • We start discussions that lead to sharing the hope found in Jesus by serving our neighbors and our community.

Things we will not do or require to keep it simple:

  • We will not start a Christian school.
  • We will not launch a sports league.
  • We will not require men to be circumcised.
  • We will not ask or force people to serve in multiple areas to be a Small Group leader.
  • We will not ask people to spend all their free time doing work to keep the church going.

What we do ask people to do to keep it simple:

  • We ask people to simplify their lives for the purpose of having margin for God’s mission.
  • We ask people to utilize their children’s sports and other extracurricular activities as a way to invest in people for the purpose of sharing Jesus and inviting them to The Grove.
  • We ask people to connect in a community group.
  • We ask people to serve on a Sunday Serve team regularly.
  • We ask people to look for opportunities to start conversations that lead to sharing the hope that is found in Jesus.
  • We ask people to do these things in their normal circle of influence.

How do you keep the message and the methods simple in your life?

 Posted by at 11:24 am
Feb 152012
 

Here are what I believe are the most important disciplines for a follower of Jesus living in the USA.  I list them in the order of importance.  Some of you will not like this and not agree.  That’s ok.  I want to challenge you to think about WHY I list them in this order.

SERVE
Why is this number 1?  I think so many followers of Jesus miss out on the impact of serving people around them in practical ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus.  Jeremiah 29:4-7 says to seek the peace and prosperity of a city and if the city prospers we will prosper as well.  One of the greatest ways to make an impression on the people and the world around you is to simply serve people in the name of Jesus.  The spiritual discipline of “service” is under-utilized in making Jesus known to people.  Serve in your church and in your community.  In John 13:3-5 Jesus demonstrates service as he washes the feet of the disciples.  Question:  How do we wash the feet of people around us in the 21st century?

GENEROSITY
In America, we have more money than we know what to do with. (And yet we are still in debt.)  We live self-indulgent lives and money has a stronghold on our hearts through greed.  Jesus told us that we cannot serve God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24) The way we break the stronghold of greed and money is to give generously!  There is nothing like the discipline of generosity to change our hearts.

SHARE
Most believers don’t know how to start a conversation that leads to sharing the hope that is found in Jesus.  We must cultivate the discipline of sharing our faith.  Regardless of your personality you are accountable for making Jesus known to people in your circle of influence.  You can learn how to get into conversations and actually share your faith.  You can click here to see how I equipped our church to share their faith.  I believe if you practice the disciplines of SERVE and GENEROSITY, this discipline will come more naturally.

Read God’s Word
Some will ask, “Why in the world is this discipline number 4 on the list of most important spiritual disciplines for a believer in America?”  Simply because most Christians that are involved in spiritual growth are “over-read and under-applied”.  We have no shortage of Bible studies available to us but most followers of Jesus are not actively applying the Word of God to their daily life.  Some of us need one less Bible Study in our life and need to get out in the community and serve and practice generosity.  Here’s the deal:  If you are serving and giving generously of your resources and sharing your faith, you will want to read your Bible even more.  God’s Word, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us and we should read it daily, don’t get me wrong.  These disciplines are specifically applied to believers living in America.  READ IT THEN DO WHAT IT SAYS! If you do what it says, you will want to read it MORE!

Talk to God
We should communicate with God through the amazing gift of prayer.  This is an underutilized discipline with most followers of Jesus.  Prayer is learning to depend on God.  This discipline is so often a formality and ritual in the life of the American Christian because we don’t lack for anything.  We don’t HAVE to depend on God because all of our needs are met in our culture.  Real, life-transforming prayer is depending on God for what we don’t have.  Pray without ceasing!  Don’t just stand there, pray something!

Connect with other believers in a local Church
Go to church! Join with other believers for the purpose of glorying God and joining Jesus in His mission of redemption.  God has sovereignly chosen to involve us in His mission of redemption.  We get to take the gospel of Jesus to people that are far from God.  2 Corinthians  5:20-21 says that we are His ambassadors.  Go to church!  Hear the Word! Celebrate Jesus with others!  Put into action what you hear!  Do it every week!  Don’t forsake it!  Hebrews 10:25

Circle Up with a Few other Believers
Circles are better than rows!  Invest your life with a small group of believers that can put into practice together these other disciplines.  You can read the Word and study together, serve together, give together, pray together, love one another!  You can’t grow spiritually as God intends by sitting in rows every week simply staring at the backs of people’s heads!  Get into a small group and get to know others on a deeper level and discover what it is like to live on mission with God with a small group of other followers.

These are the disciplines I believe that followers of Jesus must put into practice to grow spiritually and join God in His mission of getting the gospel OUT into the world we live in.  Some may not like or agree with the order of importance I put them in and that is ok.  Let’s don’t argue but simply apply these disciplines in our lives and the lives of those we are responsible for ministering to on a daily and weekly basis!

 Posted by at 12:40 pm