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Why You Should Dream BIG

4-years ago, as we were preparing to launch Centerpoint, we drew a prayer circle around a BIG dream called Crazy Love Family Day. The dream, although BIG, was simple. In a blue collar community, facing the reality of an economic crisis, we dreamed we could take one BIG day and show our city crazy love through the form of a free carnival. 

Despite the experts recommendations to take our minimal funds and market our new church, we decided we’d rather invest it into Crazy Love Family Day. Honestly, some people thought we were crazy and we often responded to that notion by saying “crazy love.” The reality is we would have probably grown at a more rapid pace as a church if we had invested our money into marketing but we knew that wasn’t what we were supposed to do.

Year 1 drew 500. Year 2 drew 800. Year 3 drew 1200 and last Saturday marked our 4th annual Crazy Love Family Day with over 2,000 people in attendance. This BIG day never happens without BIG prayers, BIG dreams and BIG faith. God is a BIG God and if you trust Him why wouldn’t you dream BIG and watch Him do His thing?

The Sacred & The Secular


This past Sunday at Centerpoint we started our now annual series called Faith & Film. Since we meet in a movie theatre this series makes sense for us but on a deeper level, I believe it helps us shatter the often imaginary line between the sacred and the secular.

One of the worst things about creating a “Christian subculture” is that it essentially shuts down our ability to think and process things outside of their respective labels. We see the label “Christian” on a book, song, or movie and assume it must be sanctified and redeemed. The same is true when that label is absent. We don’t see it, so we assume it’s entertainment and nothing more. This is unhealthy.

The Bible is an epic journey of liberation and redemption but the path that leads there is filled with all kinds of darkness and things that are anything but “spiritual”. It is in the midst of that darkness we are able to see the light that much brighter and this is why we must learn to find spiritual truth in unlikely places. When we look at the world through a lens of faith we will see God working in things where everyone else believes He’s absent.

God didn’t draw the line, we did and it’s time we start processing things through His lens instead of following everyone else’s label. 

CV

Faith & Film will continue at Centerpoint through August 25th

NONSENSE

 

o·pin·ion [uh-pin-yuhn] 

noun

1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

Since the creation of humanity, people have had different opinions. Thanks to technology, we are now are able to see and hear everyone’s opinion more transparently than ever before. This has apparently resulted in more outspoken and public opposition to people who have different opinions from our own.

This has led to protests where some throw out Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in opposition to gay rights, while others throw out Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in support of gay rights. This has been going on for years with everything from Disney World to Pepsi. Both sides then call foul on the other for their boycott and I say it’s all NONSENSE!

For those on both sides of the issue, I implore you to stop acting like someone’s opinion is an infringement on your rights. It isn’t and it never will be. The only thing we do when we throw out Ben & Jerry’s and Chick-Fil-A is waste really great food and on a more serious note, we push those who are different from us even farther away.

Something tells me that arguing over the opinions of those running a chicken and ice cream joint isn’t what Jesus wanted us to do when He left us. LET’S STOP THE NONSENSE and learn to get along even when we don’t agree.

CV

Why I Believe in God

Levi Paul Franklin VanBuskirk born 7/11/12 at 11:51pm 8lbs 21inches

One week ago today, Levi Paul Franklin VanBuskirk was born! It was a 9-month journey that started and ended with the gift of life. I’ve always had a profound belief in God but watching all 3 of my children enter this world has only strengthened my faith. My belief in God comes not only from my convictions and upbringing but from my personal experience with the Divine. As I helped deliver Levi I was reminded this couldn’t just happen. This moment couldn’t exist without purpose. Without meaning. Without a Divine Creator who ordained it to be. Nothing I’ve witnessed in life has brought heaven any closer to earth than watching new life enter into it.  There are many reasons why I believe in God but nothing has brought Him closer to me than the gift of Aubri, Owen and Levi.

Stuff Christians NEVER Say

Last week at Centerpoint we kicked-off a new series called I Have Decided to Follow Jesus and week #1 was spent examining the term “Christian”  by exploring its history and perception. Most of us know the really bad stuff that can be associated with this term so I thought it would be fun to discuss the lighter side of the perception. I developed a satirical list which I entitled Stuff Christians NEVER Say. It’s not really stuff Christians never say as much as it’s stuff Christian’s would rarely admit they say. It got a lot of laughs and I’ve been asked for the list several times in the past week so I thought I’d post it here. Hope you enjoy!

  1. The Davinci Code was awesome!
  2. I totally passed out during my prayer time last night.
  3. This round of drinks is on me!
  4. I have no idea what’s going on in the Old Testament.
  5. Wanna watch Harry Potter after church?
  6. I’ll probably forget to pray about that but ask me anyway.
  7. Michael Jackson was the best!
  8. I think the music should be louder at my church.
  9. Awesome tattoo!
  10. You should leave our waitress a bigger tip

To HELL With the Trend

For decades, if not centuries, churches have often failed to work together unless a crisis forced them to do so. We’ve let the non-essentials divide us and we’ve played for the name on the back of the jersey instead of playing for the team on the front of the jersey. Many of us in the church have praised unity publicly while failing to practice it privately.

My father was a well respected pastor and leader in the community of Chillicothe we planted Centerpoint in. For years he prayed for unity and did everything he could to see the walls of division come tumbling down. Some people were receptive. Many were not. He spearheaded a Tuesday morning prayer time for area pastors of all denominations that still exists today and it’s growing as the circle prayers he prayed around this community for years begin to get answered.

Part of the answer to those prayers came early this year as local churches in our area came together to help fund and staff The Hope Clinic. The Hope Clinic provides free basic medical assistance for the individuals in our community without insurance. Instead of complaining about how something needed to be done we did it…together. The success of the clinic has prompted vision from some of it’s leaders on what else we might be able to do together. The clinic is only the beginning.

With a mindset of unity in front of us, Centerpoint held a combination baptism service last night with another local church (Church Triumphant) and together, we packed out a building and baptized over 20 people! As we closed out the service in worship the words THE ENEMY’S BEEN DEFEATED echoed loudly through the building and it wasn’t just a statement, it was a proclamation! We had plundered the gates of hell by joining together to do something significant and we knew it! 

The idea churches can’t work well together is straight from hell and personally, I think those of us who truly want to build bridges would do well to send it back where it came from! It’s time each of us, in our specific communities,  change the trend and show the world what can happen when the church unites under the heading of Jesus! The trend is certainly changing in Chillicothe, OH but I don’t believe we are the first nor will we be the last. Together, we can change the world and it’s time we do it.

CV

The Gay Card

President Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage sent nothing less than a shockwave of emotions and opinions throughout every corner of the good old USA. As a pastor, I have taken particular interest in how the church would respond. Unfortunately, most of the popular media has chosen to let judgmental pastors and brainwashed singing toddlers represent what I believe to be the minority.

There are many churches that don’t agree with our President’s current view but I’ve spoken with no one, in any of those circles, who agrees that a modern-day concentration camp, or teaching children to proclaim hell on the gays, is a good idea. It might not make the best nightly news story or sell papers but there are many Christians who understand this issue is not going away and that hate never brings about a positive exchange.

I believe Jesus heart breaks when he hears people who claim to follow Him respond with hate instead of love. After all, He was the one who told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) My prayer is for all my gay brothers & sisters, who are human just like I am human and deserve respect and love, to find it inside the church. My desire is for everyone, gay and straight, to find the life-changing liberation that only comes through Jesus. I believe love will open that door and I believe love is the foundation of many churches. I am hopeful the ignorant opinions of a few will not detour people from experiencing the true legacy of love left by Jesus and proclaimed by many of His followers.

We must value all life because God created life and everyone has a story. 

Thoughts to ponder… 

First Church of IKEA

Monday, my wife and I braved the Memorial Day crowds of IKEA to get some much desired furnishing for our recent remodel. In the process of navigating the endless room sets and wall to wall people, I begin to look at IKEA through to eyes of a church planter and pastor asking myself what the church could learn from IKEA. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Make Kids a Priority: I’m sure my wife and aren’t alone with our lack of a desire to take our kids furniture shopping. In addition to getting bored quickly I’m always worried my 2-year old son could pull down his pants at anytime and pee on something. IKEA seems to be aware of this parental anxiety and provides a massive activity area for kids to enjoy themselves under supervision while their parents shop. It’s right at the front of the store and super attractive! Most kids would get as bored during a sermon as they would furniture shopping but when the church provides an excellent, age appropriate space for kids, everyone wins!
  2. Keep it Clean: IKEA was insanely packed Monday but every area of the building, including the bathrooms, were clean! I saw multiple team members waking around the store sweeping up trash and keeping neat. If a store that regularly accommodates thousands in 12hr. days can keep things clean, a church has no excuse not to do the same. Cleanliness is clearly a priority at IKEA and it should be the same in our churches because it sets a good tone.
  3. Clearly Identify Your Team: Every IKEA team member has a bright yellow shirt. There’s no doubt about who to ask when you need help and this is a huge benefit in such a massive, often congested space.  I’m amazed at how much we miss this in church land and our church is guilty of it as well. It’s not hard to let people know who can help them and it goes a long way in easing any possible anxiety they might experience.
  4. Keep a Complicated Process Simple: IKEA is massive and it’s unlike any other furniture store when it comes to getting your desired product. It’s 2 stories high and features a warehouse of over 30 aisles where you are responsible for pulling your own product. I’m sure this has seemed daunting and comlicated to more than 1 guest but they make it as simple as possible by communicating how it works in 3 easy steps. Computer kiosks and the yellow shirt folks make it simple too. Likewise, the process of getting connected at a church can seem daunting and complicated but simplifying the process will go a long way in helping guests grow and connect.
  5. SMILE: It was busy enough, loud enough and crazy enough at IKEA yesterday to wipe the smile off even the happiest persons face. Despite the conditions, I didn’t see one team member bumming around. Everyone seemed happy to be there and it was amazing how the attitude of the employees seemed to brighten the attitude of the shoppers. Not to dIminish the role of an IKEA employee but they are selling furniture while the church is offering the hope, love and liberation of Jesus! We should smile more than anyone elese on the planet! Period.

 

God in my dinning room table

VanB #3 is on the way and we’re remodeling to get ready. In the spirit of clearing out the old to make room for the new, my wife decided we should have a giant garage sale so we cleared out just about everything we have…literally and put it up for sale. After the yard sale was over we posted some of the larger remaining items on Craigslist. Needless to say, I did not know God would use that post to help us do much more than sell some of our stuff.

Our dinning room table was one of the items we posted and last night, a lady showed up to buy it. We made some small talk, she paid me 50% and said she’d be back later to pick it up and pay the balance. It was on the return trip that our conversation took a turn.

I found out she’d moved across the country and was in the midst of a major transition. I told her our family was also undergoing a transition hence the selling of just about everything in our home.  Somehow the talk transitioned to religion and she told me she was buddhist. I told her I was a pastor. Neither fact seemed to bother either of us. She asked where our church was. I told her it was in a movie theatre. She laughed. I shared our vision. She shared her perceptions. I invited her to come visit. She said she’d like that. As she was leaving she said, I think we just did a lot more than buy and sell a table didn’t we? I nodded and smiled in agreement. I went in the house, shut the door and realized God had used our dinning room table to create a moment only He can create.

Moments like this are all around us but we must be open enough to see them. I sincerely hope my path crosses again with the lady who bought our dinning room table. I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to.