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
Mar 112012
 

Planting a church is the adventure of a lifetime.  I believe planting churches is the most effective way to spread the gospel, reach lost people and Make Disciples.  It offers a lot of rewards but is also a challenge

Here a some things you can expect when you plant a church:

Hard Work

Planting a church is the hardest work of which I have ever taken part.  The work never ends and as a result, a planter has to be able to go home, disconnect and BE WITH your family.  You could spend all your time counseling, visiting and making contacts, following up, preparing to preach, teaching Bible Studies and completing administrative tasks.  One of my church planting coaches screamed at a training, “There are three things you need to plant a church!  Work! Work! and More Work!”

Plenty of Reward

Church Planting is the hardest work I have ever done but the most rewarding work I have been a part of as well.  There is nothing like rallying a group of people around a mission, seeing people turn to follow Christ, baptizing them and watching them grow as disciples.

Spiritual Growth

You grow more when you engage in something like church planting.  It is a huge step of faith, you constantly have to depend on God and it demands that you stay in the Word, connected in prayer and in community with others.

Spiritual Opposition

There is probably nothing more threatening to the enemy than planting a church that will set free people from spiritual bondage.  Expect spiritual opposition and anything but an easy ride.  Some of your opposition will come from people in and around your new church plant.  People get mad and will cause problems.

Strong relationships

Some of the closest friendships you will ever have will come from the launch team of people that help plant a new church.  It must be similar to being a part of a unit of soldiers sent in to battle.  You prepare together, serve together and celebrate together.

Strange people

When you plant a church, unusually nutty people will come out of the woodwork!  I can’t explain it other than they haven’t been able to fit in anywhere else and your church plant is a new frontier for them to assault..uh I mean connect.  Expect it!  It will be awkward, a bit entertaining and potentially distracting.

Highs and Lows

At times, planting a church may resemble an emotional roller coaster.  One Sunday you will be celebrating decisions for Christ, high attendance, a great offering and the next week you will be ready to throw in the towel because of some negative feedback, a poor offering or low attendance.  Buckle Up and don’t take the statistics too serious.

Laboratory For Your Family

There is nothing like planting a church for you, your spouse and your kids to learn and see up close how God faithfully works to support our steps of faith.  From trusting God for resources, seeing people turn to Jesus and watching people engage in disciple-making, planting a church is a perfect way for your family to get a taste of missionary life.

People will leave

I wish knowing this reality ahead of time would soften the blow to your feelings when someone you have grown to love decides to leave your new church!  It hurts and there is no way of getting around it unless you just stop loving and investing in people.  Keep loving and investing in people in trust God.  Here’s the thing about God, he keeps making new people and He will bring some of them your way.

God’s Presence

When Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go and make disciples he promised that he would never leave us or forsake us!  God’s presence is experienced in a fresh way when you step out on faith to plant a church.  God is faithful and He can be trusted.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 7:49 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