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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lessons from Chi-Town...

I am going to start blogging ideas/concepts/lessons that I am learning while planting a church in Chicago. Here's today's:

As a Pastor, if we spend more time preparing a sermon during the week than making disciples then it's no wonder the church in America is in crisis.

I told my wife last week, "I miss preaching." You see, I've always preached somewhere. Whether it was traveling at an event or in a local church, I've preached for the past 10 years of my life and it has become one of my major strengths and giftedness. However, since moving to Chicago I haven't preached once. The summer is over so no more youth camps. No new events scheduled here, because no one knows who I am. We haven't "launched" a large gathering yet, so no congregation to preach to on a sunday. What's a pastor to do??

This is why I am convinced we've got this whole "church" thing backwards here in our country. Don't get me wrong, preaching has a place in the church and I will continue to use this gift, but it can't be the end all, or even the most important thing. But profoundly, in America, it is. People choose a church not based on the teaching of the Bible, but "how" they teach the Bible. In other words: Is the guy/girl any good? Is it entertaining? How many Inception video clips were used this week?

Because of this, it has put tremendous pressure on pastors to deliver a flashy message to meet the demands of their customers or they will go to another church and get what they want there. This has caused Pastors to spend most of their time preparing and studying for their sermon.

Does it really make sense to place most of your weeks time and energy into a 30-45 minute presentation? Thats 30-45 minutes out of 10,080 minutes in a week? How can that be a good steward of our time?

What if, though, Sunday wasn't the most important day? What if we replaced the "event" with the church? What if as Pastors we spent our week making disciples and mobilizing them to go into their domains and make more. Then everyday becomes the most important day of the week and everyday we carry out the great commission.

You see everyone asks me when I am going to launch my church, but what they're really asking is, "When are you going to start a sunday event?" I've already launched my church. We launched when we got here and started meeting people, prayer walking, and sharing the gospel. I didn't move to Chicago to launch a worship service, I moved here so God could build His church.

One of the most refreshing things of planting a church here in Chicago is that I spend most of my day trying to engage people and our community in order to make disciples.

What if I would have always done this? What if Pastors would lead out in this and what if we could get our churches to do this? Now, that would be something worth preaching about.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Real Men Cry...

I don't know if society has taught me that "real men don't cry" or if I somehow came to that conclusion on my own, but I have always felt like I was just being a "girl" anytime my emotions got the best of me and I began to cry. So, I would try everything possible not to do it. Even as a little kid, I remember being on the soccer field or basketball court and never wanting to come out of the game so I would play hurt. BUT, I never wanted the embarrassment of crying in front of all those people. Of course, as I have gotten older I have actually cried more. I remember crying by myself my freshman year of college because I was going through a tough time with life, but it wasn't in front of anyone. First time I can remember letting loose in front of people was my granddad's funeral, and then again at my other grandpa's funeral. I have also let my guard down with my wife and have cried with her.

The reason all of this is fresh on my mind is because I recently moved to Chicago. I cried leaving my nephew Corbin because, (although I will miss all of my family and friends), he will grow and change so fast that I felt I would miss a lot of it. I also cried (and I felt really stupid for this one) leaving my dog Cooper. He had been a companion dog for me for 6 years and we had been through a lot. So, I am an emotional guy, and for me to hold those emotions in has meant for almost 90% of my life I haven't been real to other people or myself. I have had a guard up, not letting people into an area where I was comfortable being my true self.

I am convinced this is a huge issue for us in the American church. We are not real with each other. Furthermore, this has me convinced that we are missing a level of the Biblical church--the basic level (house, cell). Sure we have home groups where people share "community" with one another through a meal and bible study and go and do fun things together. That's like calling Facebook "real" community. I want to be in a community in the body of Christ where I can be real. Where I can laugh. Where we can pray for one another and really know what is going on. Where I can share my needs and I can meet the needs of others. Where I can cry.

This is a picture of the body of Christ that is the true church, where people are true. This will lead to a real community that becomes strengthened to not stay inward focused but goes out and changes the world. If we don't have real community what do we have to offer the world? If all we do is bring people into an event where 1000's are gathered every sunday have we accomplished helping them discover their eternal purpose of being in community with God and in community with others? We've given them false community by having a "greet" time or inviting them to a class or home group. We need REAL community, or else I don't think we can change the world. You see, real men do cry. Be real.