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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Aaron Cauble on "leading worship"

Today I will highlight my Arts Pastor here at Mosaic named Aaron Cauble. Not only is he one of the best music leaders I have ever been around, he is one of the best, if not the best, Pastor I have been around in the true sense of the word pastor (shepherd). This is some of the best stuff I have seen on leading the Body of Christ through the Arts to build it into maturity and have a thriving music/arts ministry. Here's what he had to say about leading music...

In my humble opinion, here is what's needed in a 'worship leader' (side note:  I usually call them the 'music leader' or 'worship music leader' so that we don't perpetuate the idea that music is the only way to worship.  By calling them the 'worship leader,' you are saying that they are in charge of all elements of worship in a church body.  I see teaching and preaching as worship, prayer as worship, encouragement, obedience to God's commands, etc.  Although some might argue it's just semantics, I believe our language should reflect our ideas and philosophies.  

1.  Sensitivity to the Spirit:  a worship music leader has to know how to listen to God and adjust fire at His leading 
2.  Humble:  there are far too many worship music leaders out there that do not have a humble spirit (the greatest of you must become the least) 
3.  Teachable: willing to receive wise council from others and be a part of an elder (or pastoral) team (be a team player and allow input from others into what you do)  
4.  Creative:  you must be reinventing yourself all the time or you and your body will get stuck in a rut; be willing to have consistency, but also be able to break the mold at times 
5.  Song-writer:  a music worship leader should be able to write songs that pertain to their body specifically and the season in which they're in.  If we believe in the creative God of the universe, He will give us songs to share with the body 
6.  Organized:  there is a certain amount of administration that goes along with organizing your team (printing chord charts, scheduling practices, making sure all media elements are there, organizing a service, etc.) 
7.  A musician:  someone that knows their music theory and their instrument well and has a well-rounded knowledge of the other instruments in the band so they can communicate musically with them 
8.  A basic knowledge of sound engineering:  you don't have to be an expert, but you should know the lingo so you can help the sound guy out and speak his language (if you're a church plant, you may be setting up the sound system by yourself) 
9.  Pastoral:  a worship music leader is going to be shepherding people on and off the stage (music team and congregation included) 
10.  Saved : they know Christ and are growing in their faith (their life bears fruit... you see evidence in their lives that they have been transformed by the gospel) 
11.  Servant of all 
12.  Faithful:  musicians can be flaky at times; you want someone who is dependable, does what they say they're going to do, shows up on time, makes their ministry a priority 
13.  Grows leaders:  they understand how to multiply themselves and teach others how to do what they do; a lot of music leaders I see get burnt out because they're leading every week, it makes more sense to grow up other leaders and give others the opportunity to lead because they bring something different to the body that you don't have and it empowers them 
14.  Prophetic: able to hear from the Lord and share it with others; can share words of encouragement and exhortation 
15.  Learner:  has to be able to adapt to the context of their body and of the times they live in; always learning new songs 
16.  Connector:  connects with other people that do what they do so they can learn from them and have a sense of community with the global church (hang with dudes from other churches and denominations that are team leaders) 
17.  Is engaged in the music/arts community outside of the Church (engages the musical domain of society, has music friends that aren't saved, goes to see or play live music in clubs, bars, etc., shows love to and has a heart for musicians that don't know Christ; not stuck in the church bubble)

Guidelines for leading worship:

1.  Be living a life that is rooted in the gospel so that you can be ready at all times to lead people in musical worship ("be ready in season and out of season"), so that when you lead people, you have something to say because you have been rooted in Christ and are listening to the Spirit at all times 
2.  Confess sin beforehand, come clean before the Lord to lead others in worship 
3.  Practice the songs and know them well so you don't have to worry about chords and lyrics and meaning while you're leading people; it should be 2nd nature to you and locked into the sub-concious before you ever play it in front of a group 
4.  Don't play a song unless you are fully convicted by its message 
5.  Listen to the Spirit as you lead and be willing to adjust your set according to His leading 
6.  Don't be affected by people's physical response (don't let their lack of response hinder you from worshipping, or their over-exuberance distract you), but also discern where people are at in the room so you can get a vibe for what's going on during the service (this can change from week-to-week drastically depending on what people are dealing with at the time) 
7.  Lead your team and give them physical or verbal cues so they know where you're going 
8.  Do everything you can to keep things flowing smooth (especially your transitions between songs and service elements) 
9.  Communicate well with the preacher beforehand and during the service (know where he is going so you can structure the songs thematically around the message and during the service watch them for cues if they feel like God is leading them a different direction or if you need to sing more songs) 
10.  Have a spirit of authority and humility (be bold, be filled with God's power) 
11.  Don't be something you're not (be genuine); if you're struggling, don't feel the pressure to put on a happy face (people can sense when you're not being genuine) 
12.  Sing and play your guts out (worship the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, mind!!!)

Monday, July 4, 2011

is Capitalism killing the Church?

I preface this blog with the following comments. One, I do not consider this a criticism of the Church but a challenge to the Church that I myself have been challenged with. Second, I love the Body (Church), am a part of the Body & want to see it grow into maturity, unity and watch God
build something upon Christ that the "gates of Hell will not even be able to overcome it." Third, I am not an expert on anything. i am just trying to be a learner & these are my honest observations.

In America we've definitely created a "celebrity" Christianity within the sub-culture (which we shouldn't even have) of the Church. We've allowed the economy of America to become the economy of the Kingdom and call it "ok" because we're Americans. The problem with this is that the church was never intended to be ran like a business and the gifts of the Church were never intended to be exploited and make money off of. The paradox of the Kingdom economy in which we give all away freely & watch our King do miraculous things with that sacrifice has long been lost in our country and one of the major reasons I believe the Church is exploding globally but not here locally in the US.

I have put on many events, concerts, & conferences over the years and have been asked to speak at even more. Over the past two years God has really been convicting and changing me about these events and what we've turned them into. For instance, we have agents now doing all the booking for all the "personalities." We've allowed money to determine where and when we go instead of the Holy Spirit! I know what bands & speakers charge for an event and I know this keeps them from going to speak in Bronte, TX to a youth group of 20 or a church of 100. It's not that I believe "being rich" is the driving force but money definitely is. Maybe it's the security of money or the life we think money should provide for us.

Can you imagine Paul telling the church in Ephesus, "I'm sorry but this is my ministry and my lively hood, I just can't afford to come speak to you about the Kingdom and the Church." Yet so many "ministers & pastors" say that everyday. WHY is it I always hear, "there's a business side to the ministry too?" Really? Where'd we come up with that? To justify us making a ton of money off of a gift God has given us?

You say, "well I gotta feed my family." True, but the very premise of that statement implies you are trusting yourself to provide for your family rather than God. Has He not called you & gifted you? Why do you feel the need to use that to provide instead of just letting Him use you AND provide.

In Ephesians 4 Paul tells us God has given us all gifts according to the grace of Jesus & that they were given to us for one reason: to edify and build up the Church. Not for personal gain. Not for making money & definitely Not for making a living.

This is where capitalism has steered us wrong. It teaches us to find something that sells, package it and beat as many competitors (other churches) as we can. Kingdom economy tells us to Be who Jesus told us to be & follow the Holy Spirit whether we make any money or not COMPLETELY trusting Him to provide and grow our Church.

Furthermore, there are the events themselves. We say,"well we have to charge to cover the expense of the event." Why? Let's go without the $15000.00 light show and $10000.00 sound system. Let's not have the bands make $25,000.00 & a speaker $10,000.00. The irony of a "hipster" speaker yelling at me to be missional from a stage that screams attractional & an event that charged me money to learn from this guy is driving me insane. Or the worship band telling me at a concert that "they're not here to entertain me, but to lead me in worship of Jesus" then ironically charges me $28-$35 to lead me in that worship.

If we really care about the movement of the Church then where are all the people in the Body offering their gifts to the Body to help it grow into that? Why not speak for free? Why not offer your books for free? Why not play for free? The rest of the world is. I just pray the WEST doesn't try & CAPITALIZE on the movement across the globe and kill it by turning those pastors and apostolic leaders into celebrities here. We should just shut-up, go & learn and be willing to change our whole paradigm here.

Do I really need to pay over $200 to somebody to help me find Passion? Why? If we're really passionate about a movement through young adults & college students shouldn't this be offering our gifts to the Body instead of charging for them?

Furthermore, we throw events lately designed to teach about the Kingdom and that living for the Kingdom is what we need, yet all the speakers & bands are from this celebrity culture or from mega churches. What we're really teaching is the same paradigm but in a different package: Bigger is better and you're an expert if you have a large church. Furthermore, they'll even lead on church planting yet never planted their church OR were CELEBRITIES before they plant their church and had 1000 people show up the first week of their existence. Is this really church planting & should I be learning how to plant a church in Urban Chicago from them while paying money just to learn how to reach more Christians?

One of my mentors/friend/fellow Church planters should be one of the one's speaking but he won't get asked because his church only has around 100 people. Apparently he's not an expert because 100 people isn't success (well at least in Capitalism it's not) However, in their first 3 years they've already helped start or support over 5 other church plants. That's the KINGDOM yet no one is lining him up. WHy? BEcause of capitalism. We know PEOPLE WILL NOT PAY & ATTEND OUR EVENT IF WE DON'T HAVE THAT ATTRACTION NAME. What a messed up system and no wonder the Church is in crisis in the United States.

A few mega church pastors I have spoken too have confessed to me that the majority of their growth are from Christians & not from the lost. This doesn't surprise me.

We'll bring in Josh Hamilton to speak at our churches & then we advertise on Christian radio. Really? Who are we trying to reach? Why not advertise on ESPN radio and try to reach the lost people that might be interested instead of building your church by killing neighborhood churches. We need neighborhood churches impacting their communities and reaching the lost, not mega-churches offering something better for the "Christian Consumer" that will kill all the surrounding churches around it. Thats Capitalism.

I have some mega church pastors who are great pastors and leading their churches to Be the church. It's not the mega church that is the problem. You see we need neighborhood churches and mega-churches reaching the lost & impacting their cities. We need all types of churches.

But the issue isn't just with leadership, it's with all of us. Why are we buying the product? WHy do we jump churches looking for the next best thing instead of SERVING where we are and being active? We think we're entitled to be served (capitalism) instead of serving (Kingdom). WHy do we not trust Jesus to provide therefore only going where jobs take us? It's the entire Body that needs to grow.

Why is it there are only 3 or 4 gospel preaching churches in my neighborhood of 190,000 and the biggest one is less than 200? Why is it Ashley & I moved here by ourselves & yet earnestly pray for co-laborers because of the darkness & the harvest is so plentiful and the workers so few?

Because we allow money, family & convenience to determine where & when we go instead of the Holy Spirit. Why are there more Christians in China than Chicago and so many churches and workers in the suburbs and the south and nobody coming to the urban areas of our country? Because we don't want to give everything up for Christ, only what we want too.

Until we adhere to the economy of the Kingdom, & offer our entire lives, our gifts, our money and everything we are to Christ and watch Him build His church, were going to continue to let capitalism kill the church. I for one, am too tired of this paradigm and being in Chicago has re-inforced to me I don't have time to mess with it anymore. None of my homeless members or street kids care who plays my music and who speaks. The gospel is transforming their lives and that's what being missional is.

I love the Church and all the good that it is doing in the USA and how Christ always moves despite us. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our hardest to make it reflect our Head (Christ as much as we can!)

I am definitely encouraged by the generation coming up. I believe they are turned off by what's described above and they are looking for authenticity. Check out this article written in relevant magazine. This is how a lot of the younger thinkers are thinking and where they're moving.
I want to see the great commission fulfilled and believe the Church should carry out this task. Hopefully we can get out of our own way at times and accomplish this in purity without having Capitalism coincide with it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Here's our SUMMER MINISTRY STAFF for Mosaic Church. We are so blessed and thankful to have them! Please be praying for them throughout the summer as they are an integral part of the continued start of Mosaic Church here in Chicago.

My name is Jason Ivie and I am from Weatherford, Texas. I currently go to Dallas Baptist University where I am a biblical studies major. After graduation I plan on going into full-time ministry.

(from left to right)

Hi. My name is Autumn Bridges. I’m from Parrish, Florida. I’m a senior at North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina studying Interdisciplinary Studies with Christian Studies, Elementary Education, and European History. I’m excited to be part of the Parachute Project church planting team this summer in preparation for further mission service, including the Journeyman program after I graduate.

I am a native of the Washington D.C. area, and a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia. I recently completed my Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and hope to pursue a career in counseling. I have a heart for church planting and a deep love for the city of Chicago, and I’m so excited to be a part of the work God is doing among His church in the city.

I am from Fort Wayne, Indiana and am a student at Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana. I am a senior studying Educational Ministries and Missions. I’ll be graduating in May 2012, after which I plan to work as a USC2 Missionary (United States or Canada Missionary for 2 years) or in a job where I can be involved with ministry work. I want my life to be fully showing others Christ’s love and the hope that I have found in Him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bungee Jumping, Faith & Our House

I made a deal with God a little over 2 years ago. Ash & I knew we were called to plant a church and that we were going to plant in Chicago, so I told God we would move when He sold our house in Denton. This only made sense. It's really expensive to live in Chicago & there was no way we could afford rent in Chi-town & a house payment in Denton, TX at the same time, so I gave God the terms of the deal. Unfortunately, I was obedient to God and listening to Him in all the areas of selling a lot of our possessions, moving away from all of our family, starting a church and living by faith financially EXCEPT for with our house. It's almost like I didn't have enough faith He could really do all of this, so I wanted the house to sell first in order to be a "sign" that God would provide and clear the way for us to move to Chicago.

Good logic huh? Well earthly that is, and almost all people would agree it was good logic, but it's not in the Kingdom of God. What makes sense in the Kingdom of God is obedience. No matter what the call is and how much sense it makes. That's whats great about being a son or daughter of the King is that all we have to do is obey. He takes care of us, provides for us and has all the resources at His disposal to use us to accomplish His will & bring glory back to His kingdom. When we don't trust, don't obey and use GOOD LOGIC all we do is bring glory to our kingdom and the world sees no existence of a powerful, almighty God but only says, "well that just makes sense."

Well, as many know, our house never sold. We were newly married, waiting to move to Chicago and do our best to keep OverFlow Ministries going in Denton, as well as prepare it for our departure. Fall came. Winter came. Spring came. No house sold.

Then, this past May for my 30th birthday, I decided to go bungee jumping. I went to this place in Dallas where I could bungee jump off a ledge for a 7 story drop. However, when I arrived there I also noticed a "free fall" from a 160 ft drop. Basically, what this meant was that I would be lifted 160 ft in the air and then just dropped out of a harness and fall (with nothing attached) 160 ft into a net that hopefully caught me! That free fall was the most exhilarating few seconds of my life! The bungee jump was a little different, however. I climbed the windy staircase up to the 70 ft ledge getting more scared as I traveled a new story. I finally hit the 7th story, saw the Dallas skyline and walked to the ledge. There a teenager met me, attached a rubber band to me and said, "On the count of 3: jump! 1,2,3..." and no jump. My legs were like jello and I was frozen on that ledge. He counted again and again and every time he hit 3 I wanted to jump but I couldn't get off that ledge. It just made no sense! I was on a perfectly good ledge where it was safe and comfortable with a perfect way down: the stairs. My wife is down below with the FlipCam waving as I feel like I've been standing on that ledge for 30 minutes. Then the teenager started talking noise and calling me names and saying my wife would lose all respect for me if I didn't jump. My man pride was hurt now so when this punk kid got to 3 this time I finally----fell off the ledge headfirst 70 ft and it was AMAZING!

On the way home it hit me what the difference was between the two jumps. Why was bungee so much harder for me than the free fall? Well, because the free fall I was just dropped 160 ft and once I got on the lift I was stuck and had no choice whether or not I wanted to be dropped. However, with the bungee jump I actually had to JUMP! No one was pushing me off the ledge, I had to trust that the rubber band would hold and although it didn't make any sense to do it, I had to have faith. I knew the cord would hold, or if it didn't the big pad would catch me, and so really I had nothing to fear. I just had to trust it, and jump.

Summer came. Still no house sold. I had told FBC Denton no matter what I was leaving by the end of the summer. I had helped them find my replacement and August was fast approaching. What was I going to do. I was taking a shower one morning and spent time praying as I often do, and God spoke to me and brought me back to the bungee jump. He said, "just jump. Trust me. I never made the deal with you that your house would sell before you would move, I just told you to move to Chicago and plant a church." I was on that ledge with God scared again. I told God my deal made sense and I liked the free fall better. I wanted to know why God couldn't just sell our house and drop me and Ash in Chicago? He told me clear as day again, "Jump."

I went to my wife with the news and after praying she said, "ok, let's do it." We went to Chicago to find an apartment, and after 4 days came home empty handed and discouraged. But I kept hearing the words "Jump" and so, after returning home to Denton, I got on Craigslist one more time to search for a place to live and one popped up that was exactly where we wanted to live and was in a price range we could afford. BUT there were no pictures! (This is a huge deal when moving anywhere, but especially in the city). But, again, I heard the words, "Jump." I prayed and told God, "ok I'm all in" and Ash and I jumped. We signed the lease the next day and set our moving date. Within hours of faxing our lease to Chicago, I got a call and we got a contract on our house. Didn't make any sense, but God get's glory because only He can do that and it took our trust obedience for Him to show us and the world, He will provide!

We moved to Chicago, started planting our church, and God was good. Once you jump, you really can't go back to the ledge. So, when we got to October and got the news the lady was backing out of her contract on our house, we were upset for a little bit, but then prayed and knew that we had jumped, God has shown the ability to provide and will do so again. So we prayed and had confidence God would sell.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came. No sell. Valentines came, still no sell. Spring break came, still no sell.

I had a quiet time one March morning and was reading through the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells His disciples to "ask and it shall be given to you" & went on to tell them how when a son asks a father for a loaf of bread he doesn't receive a snake so how much more will your Father in heaven give to you. I got convicted. I just knew God was going to sell our home, but i never had specifically asked Him to in some time now. Jesus didn't give an example of someone asking just for anything, the son asked for a specific loaf of bread. Now, Jesus never said if the son received the loaf, but He was saying the gift the Father would give would be good. So i prayed specifically for the house to sell that morning.

WIthin one hour, our realtor calls me and tells me he's about to sell my house and we had a contract by the end of the day. God wanted me to ask so I wouldn't think the house would just sell, but that HE would sell it. He is my provider and when He asked me to jump He told me He would take care and I needed to trust, but that din't mean I still didn't need to come to my Dad and ask Him for anything.

At the end of March I came to Texas and was speaking at FBC Denton. But before doing that, I got to close on the house. I have no idea how we were able to afford our house payment in Texas and the expensive rent we have here in Chicago but to only say GOD DID.

Jumping never makes sense but when you think about it, it really does. Obedience to our King in His kingdom brings Him glory and as our King He will provide. To God be the Glory.

Will you jump? Will you forget about what makes sense and go for it? Live a life that is so beyond you and your comfort and live for His kingdom and watch Him provide, get the glory and use your life to show people that He is the one true God. If you're not seeing the power of God in your life, it's because your life is too safe and you're too dependent upon yourself.

I just can't believe I never jumped sooner...what a life I was missing out on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are You an Oppressor?

This past monday, I had the privilege of going and hearing Najeeba Syeed-Miller speak at a conference at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is a brilliant Professor at Claremont School of Theology & one of the leading Muslim women in the U.S. Our paths have crossed different times. One of my mentors, Bob Roberts, Jr held a conference called Global Faith Forum where he brought her into speak and I met her there. I also have spent time with her father while traveling with Bob, and when I found out she was speaking in Chicago, I decided to go learn some more. Her topic assigned was the "role of women in traditional Islam" and if it is changing, or more importantly, should be changing. I was fascinated by what she had to say, and I cannot do her justice in this blog by summarizing, but part of what she said inspired me to write this:

Are we oppressors?

Our first response to that question is a quick no. I mean, we live in the modern day United States where equality flows like milk & honey. However, a deeper look into our culture shows many oppressed people ranging from homosexuals to Muslim-Americans and racial tensions still exist in areas of our nation. Ironically, Najeeba's talk wasn't necessarily focusing on oppression, but this is the gist of the part of what she said that brings this all together:

She was talking about the role of women in Islam and how some view them as oppressed, but we ought to be careful to view them that way as a whole. Because, although some would like to be "liberated", others feel they are not oppressed because they have "chosen" to live the way they are and are not "forced." And, how they choose to live is their way of more closely following God. She went on to not try to even focus this just on women, but on the basic human right we have to choose.

This really got me thinking. The opposite then, of oppression, is the right to choose. To choose how you live your life. To choose which religion you will follow and how you will follow it. In one word: Freedom.

Therefore, to be against freedom of religion would be to be for oppression. To be against the building of a Mosque would be for oppression. To be against your child being friends with Muslim children would be for oppression. To be against building a church in the Middle East would be for oppression. Not allowing someone to choose their religion and force them to believe like you is to oppress them.

Jesus modeled this for us often. One story that sticks out to me is found in the New Testament in the book of John, chapter 4, where Jesus "had to go to Samaria." There he sits at Jacob's well and encounters a Samaritan women who happened to be a prostitute and He crossed socio-economic barriers (Samaritan's being on the bottom of the totem pole in any Caste system), and gender barriers to tell her He had the kingdom of heaven for her. He told her He was the living water and that a day was coming soon when eternal life could dwell inside of her if she "chose" to follow Him. She did that day and so did many in her village. What was Jesus teaching us when He went to this women? Why not just go to the leading man in the Village? Why was He even going to the Samaritans at all being a Jew? He was showing us that He loved all people and that His love knew no barriers and wants all people to have the choice to respond to Him.

I have seen oppression with my own eyes in South Africa & Palestine. We have all seen it in the Sudan, Egypt and other places throughout history. However, to move forward as people living in a multi-faith & multi-ethnic world, we must choose to love all people and not contribute to oppression because someone disagrees with us and our beliefs. As a follower of Jesus & his teachings, I must choose to love all people and fight against oppression.

I was visiting with Najeeba & a colleague of hers before she spoke and we were talking about multi-faith and I said that it must go beyond discussion and enter into engagement. "Hand. Heart. Head." is model that Bob Roberts developed that we are trying to do. Multi-faith, or interfaith, has always been about discussions between pastors, imams, rabbis, etc., to see how we can find some common ground. I have been a part of many inter-faith panels at the University of North Texas and they are all usually the same. The problem with this approach is they start with the "head." I was not friends with the other members of the panels and I would never see them again until another interfaith panel occurred. I just knew we had irreconcilable differences and that we didn't believe the same things no matter what "pluralists" were trying to tell us. Bad approach. It did nothing to change the stereotypes I had because I still did not know "them." (people of other faiths)

We need a new platform. Instead, we start with the "Hand." We partner together to make our cities better. Bob's church Northwood in Keller,TX has done this many times. They have done Habitat for Humanity houses with Muslims, Jews, and Christians all working together and other projects serving together to make their cities better.

This leads to the "heart." In working together, we become friends. You realize after roofing together or serving the homeless together that we really do like each other and we can be friends. Bob's church has had members go to each other's houses for dinners with people from other faiths and the ladies have even gotten together to learn how to cook each other's food.

Then we can get to the "head." Now, because we are friends, we can talk about all of our differences and agree to disagree. But because we like each other we still have a relationship, my stereotypes have been broken and you are no longer "them" to me but my friend. Now we can talk things out as friends instead of panelists.

Most importantly, however, this process enables the movement to the masses. It goes from religious leaders in each religion having a dialogue to the people in our different congregations engaging in a multi-faith movement to make our cities better and learn to love one another.

Hand. Heart. Head.

Let's love all people and be people that lead to peace, not more oppression. We have enough of that in the world already.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Harvest is Plentiful; Workers Are Few

Growing up in church and now being a pastor in a church for over 10 years I have heard, memorized, study and preached many verses of the bible. One verse has been sticking out to me a lot more recently, however:

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."

These words of Jesus I have known my entire life. I have seen the verse used for mission trips, for projects, to get volunteers to sign up for church events,etc. I have always known it to be true and have always used it to motivate myself & followers of Jesus to be about the work of the Kingdom.

However, I have never "felt" it to be more true than I have since moving to Chicago. God has brought me to the fields and has shown me the harvest. He has given me more homosexual friends than ever before. He has given me more friends who do not even have Jesus on their radar than ever before. He has given me a new city that needs people to engage it with God's love. He has given us favor with our local school. He has given us favor with some of our community development groups. He has given us favor with the local park district. Yes, I see the harvest. I see it everyday. When you are in the bubble of American Christianity, where all we do is surround ourselves with other Christians, christian schools, christian music and shop only at "Christian" stores, we began to lose sight of the harvest. We began to think the world really is ok & become numb to the hurt around us. We become oblivious to the injustices taking place. We become disinterested in the lost and just think, "if we can only get them to church." That way, they can hear a message from a Pastor, hear songs, and I really don't have to do anything but invite them and I've done my part. This gets us off the hook from investing in people's lives, loving people, and actually rolling up our sleeves and working the fields.

BUT when you let that bubble burst and your eyes are opened to a whole new world, you realize that there is a harvest and that the workers really are few.

What would it look like if churches began releasing their people into the harvest? What would it look like if instead of churches spending 90% of their energy getting people to come to church, they spent 100% of their energy sending people into the harvest? What if instead of 20% of church members being actually active in the ministry of the church, 100% of the body was active? What would our churches look like? What would our cities look like as we released a movement of Christ's love in the city?

This begs the question: what role are our churches really playing in the cities we live in? What if, instead of the church seeing the city as a resource, the city viewed the church as a resource? How cool would that be that as churches we were having such an impact on our city that they were coming to us to help rebuild, develop, and make the city better. AND doing it all in the name & love of Jesus. Wow, I get excited just thinking about all we could do as churches!

This is the vision of our church. I have experienced the harvest too much now to turn my back on it. Some of the harvest is ripe, and some of it still needs to seeded, and some of it still needs to be watered. But WE NEED workers. Ashley & I are about as stretched as we can be and be productive in the fields. We have set up a framework with DNA & a vision to be about the ministry of reconciliation in the city of Chicago, but we need workers to come and join in what God is doing here. To put it frankly: we need workers. I pray for God to give us co-laborers every day. To bring us people from Texas that feel called, or people from the Chi-town area, or people from Africa (or wherever He brings) that would be willing to sacrifice the comfort of the American Christian bubble and be about the harvest in Chicago.

BUT more importantly, I pray that Christians would sacrifice the comfort of the American Christian bubble for the harvest wherever God has called them. Whether that be in dallas, nyc, la, chicago, shanghai, bethlehem, or bronte (tx)!

Don't get me wrong I would love for people to come and join us and I'm continuing to pray for that because we need it, but God's ministry of reconciliation is bigger than what we are doing. For my eyes have seen the harvest, and unfortunately, my eyes don't see many workers. Will you open your eyes, sacrifice, & work?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Proud of My Wife...

I know Ashley is going to be embarrassed by this but I wanted to take the time to let people know this: I am really proud of my wife. In honor of her starting school tonight, I wanted people to know how she continues to amaze me.

Ashley is an amazing woman of God who loves Jesus more than me and challenges me to be better. I could not have asked for more of a blessing from God than the opportunity to journey with Ashley by my side through this life.

She's amazed me with her trust to pick up and move with me to Chicago, not only leaving our families behind but our comfort too. Not many women would do this and for her too, not only shows her commitment to Christ, but to me as well.

She's amazed me with her strength to spend many nights here in the big city of Chicago by herself (as I have had to travel) without getting scared, not missing a beat, and not losing sight of our vision and continuing the work of why we're here.

She's amazed me with her endurance to "plant" a church with me and be very active in partnering with me to see this thing through.

She's amazed me with her ambition to get her Master's in ESL (starting classes tonight).

She's amazed me with her sacrifice to go to school, work a full-time job (not just for money but to reach her co-workers), and put up with me. Lord knows that is not very easy at all and is a full-time job as well. I know I am not easy to live with sometimes, as even Selah (our dog) gets tired of me.

I am amazed at her compassion for people, children, and her passion and desire to see people come to a loving relationship with Jesus.

Ashley, I am thankful for you and your desire to see God's kingdom advanced, first in our family, and also to the world.

I. love. you.