Friday, November 19, 2010

Season of Giving

This Sunday we launch into a season of giving. 
  • The Angel Tree will be set up on the foyer with names of children whose parents are in prison.  This is an opportunity to provide gifts for these children.  
  • Sunday @ 6pm is the Community Thanksgiving service @ Country Christian Church.  Such a cool service.  Please come prepared to give to the non-perishible goods offering and/or the financial offering that will be received. (p.s., teens will meet @ 5:40 and cruise over in the van for this service.  A stop for Ice Cream after the service is included.)
  • I am excited to begin a new sermon series, Advent Conspiracy.  This Sunday we'll investigate what it means to [Worship Fully] using Exodus 10:24-28 as our text.  Remember, December 19 we will receive a special offering for three great ministries:  Transforming Wesleyan Church of Detroit, Destiny Rescue and, Dave & Beth Watters-missionaries to Haiti.
  • December 13 we will host another Grocery Giveaway as part of our season of giving.  5 pm.
Thanks for praying for our church and our impact on our community.  Pray that the name and love of Jesus Christ will be evident in all we do.  He descended from heaven to earth so that we might know God's love and find our forgiveness in Him.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Is this the true message of the Christmas Season?

Sunday we start a new sermon series inspired from the folks at  This week, Worship Fully.  Themes for the weeks to come:  Spend Less, Give More, Love All.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Integrating Strategy

One of the reasons we like Think Orange is that it integrates the strategy of how we disciple children and teenagers. In other words, the things we do when a child is 4 years old are quite similar to what we do when he or she is 14 years old. Because our goal is to make disciples that will both stick with the church after high school graduation and continue to make disciples themselves, our children's ministry and youth ministry can begin to work together to reach that goal. One of the ways we work together is by integrating the strategy. That is, we can begin to think together about the ways each ministry of our church fits with the next, how children's church prepares kids for youth group and how youth group prepares students for entering a small group...

Reggie Joiner writes in the Think Orange Leader Handbook about the consequences of NOT integrating strategy. His six statements are in bold with my comments afterward. 

1. Parents struggle with how to partner with the church. If moms and dads aren't sure how AWANA fits with children's church, or how a special youth event fits with Sunday nights, or how any of those things work to make a disciple, then they won't bring their children to them. 

2. Programming and ministry tend to be random and isolated in impact. We may brainstorm about great ideas and events that we could do, but if they don't fit the strategy, or if they compete with existing programs that do fit the strategy, we won't implement the new ideas. 

3. There is no consistent forum to evaluate and change ineffective programming. A strategy provides great guidelines for determining whether or not we are "on target." 

4. Leaders and volunteers get disillusioned with the lack of direction. Just like you put down a book if it's going nowhere in the first few chapters, so do leaders and volunteers quit if they perceive the program to be "going nowhere."

5. Staff members drift toward silo thinking. That is, Peter does what Peter wants and Josh does what Josh wants without talking with one another. Or, children's ministry does what it wants and youth ministry does what it wants. This type of thinking is impossible with a strategy in place. 

6. Over-programming and competing systems dilute the effectiveness of the church. Leaders and families end up with too many options and too many things to be involved in. In the end, the temptation is for us to choose nothing when the choices get numerous. 

So what does this mean for us in practical terms? 

1. Our children's ministry and youth ministry leaders will begin talking together on a regular basis about how each one's programming affects the family and schedule. 
2. Our children's ministry has made the decision to move to First Look and 252 Basics curriculum starting in February 2011 for children's church. FYI: We'll be sitting down with parents on Sunday December 5 after service to introduce you to it. 
3. We will evaluate our programming based on whether or not it fits our strategy. We will "edit" when necessary. No church gets it right the first time every time. 
4. You will hear us use phrases like "another voice saying the same thing as parents" to describe small group leaders or "family experiences" to describe activities designed for the whole family to engage in outside of your time in this building. These are part of the strategy. 

So, what are your thoughts? What would you add to the conversation?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Come Together

Ephesians 1:3-10 is an incredible passage of scripture.  We have just concluded 7 weeks unpacking verbs that are inserted into these verses.  It's been a lot of fun.  The sermon series was called, God Story; from Infinity to Belong.

A couple observations:
a) God has done so much for us
b) All his actions hinge on Jesus Christ
c) His actions are aimed at us and are intended for us to live out (ie. see the remained of the book of Ephesians)

As we wrapped things up today it was easy to show a couple reasons God has done all that he has.  First, I believe there is a tendency among people - Christian or not - to finger point.  We are pretty quick to talk about "them".  When we realize the personal nature of God's actions it chips away at this tendency.  Ephesians 1 also teaches that Christ has come to put everything back in its place.  NT Wright would say, "put things to right."  There's a unifying factor found in him - and again, this gets personal.  His involvement in the story is intended to have impact on my life and yours.

In our attempts to be the church we (I) sometimes forget how important it is to be together.  I forget how important is is to experience something together.

But sometimes we (I) make the church about me rather than about knowing others, serving with others, and serving for others.

Let me suggest that serving together is an incredible way to make church "about us" without making it "about me".  Serving together has an powerful unifying effect.  Doing work together is so cool.  In particular, this is great for men.

@ NBWC this week we have some great opportunities to come together.
Wednesday, AWANA takes place--serving 60+ elementary students.
Thursday, we host a Grocery Giveaway--serving 150+ family units
Friday, we'll be setting up for the Autumn Vendor Fair scheduled for Saturday--hosting 70+ local vendors.

I say, get in the game.  This is about you.  This is about you and me.  This is about us.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get Some Rest

Halloween is over and done. Are you over your sugar high yet? I wonder if Halloween fits well in our holiday schedule, since all the candy we consume at the end of October and beginning of November serves to keep us going through the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and Christmas? Just a thought.

If you’re like me, you know that this time of year only amps up what was already a busy schedule with more busyness. It doesn’t end. For some of us, what we really need is not sugar or caffeine intravenously pumped into our arms. We need more than just a few days off work around Christmas; we even need more than a month off to detox and be refreshed.

What we really need is a rhythm of rest. No, I did not just cuss at you. This isn’t a curse word or an impossible ideal. It’s a spiritual truth that even Jesus communicated to His disciples and practiced. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). 

I remember one of my first chapel lessons as a freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University. Keith Drury, one of the professors of religion, spoke about how the temptation for us would be to bask in our freedom and compete with our roommates for who could pull the all-nighters. And then he said that rest is a spiritual issue that we should not take lightly. He’s right. If we are called to be holy—set apart to God—what better way than to get rest when the rest of the world doesn’t?

Listen to what James Bryan Smith says in his book, The Good and Beautiful God.

“The number one enemy of Christian spiritual formation today is exhaustion…. According to numerous studies, the average person needs approximately eight hours of sleep in order to maintain health. This tells me that God has designed humanity to spend nearly one-third of our lives sleeping.”

He continues: “What does this have to do with Christian spiritual formation? The human person is not merely a soul housed in a body. Our bodies and souls are unified. If our bodies suffer, so do our souls.” If we want God to form us into the image of Christ, sleep must be one of the first areas we surrender to God. As an act of trust, we tell Him, “Father, I know there is more I could do. I am trusting you to guide me this week, to help me fulfill my responsibilities in less time than what I’m used to.”

You say, “But you don’t know what my schedule looks like. There’s no way I can get eight hours of sleep a night.” Maybe you can’t this week, but I know it’s possible. Find a time to go to bed and a time to get up, and stick with them. For me it is 11:00PM and 7:00AM.

And just think: As we allow God to form us spiritually, our children, our families, and our friends have an inside track to the grace and provision of God in us. By the simple act of sleeping eight hours a night, we speak volumes to those around us.

So when are you going to bed tonight?