Category Archives: Church

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?

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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.

 

For or Against?

When Jesus came to earth He was surrounded by a culture of religion that chose to speak more about what they were AGAINST than what they were FOR. This attitude oppressed the people of Jesus culture and He came to set creation free.

Jesus offered this freedom by speaking more about what He was FOR than what He was AGAINST.

He was FOR love. He was FOR peace. He was FOR  grace.

No doubt it’s often easier to fight AGAINST something than it is to fight FOR something but I would argue more of us need to realize it’s worth the extra effort. People on the outside of church tend to see us as a divisive group of people who, although playing on the same team, rarely seem to agree. In honesty, I believe most of us who claim to follow Jesus have more that unites us than divides us but we yell louder about the things we don’t agree on.

Before Jesus left this earth He prayed those of us would choose to follow Him would experience oneness with one another (John 17:21). If we want God to answer this prayer, I believe we need to do a better job of telling people what we stand FOR instead of yelling at them about what we’re AGAINST.

Thoughts to ponder…

CV

Sex. Marriage. Church.

God created sex and marriage. No matter what you might have heard, neither were created simply for the sake populating the earth. He created sex so we could experience pleasure and He created marriage so we would have a visible reminder on earth of the heavenly love He has for His church. The problem is, our view of sex is distorted and the state of marriage is broken. We’ve taken two wonderful things and messed them up.

I often wonder if the church is more to blame for this than anyone else? God wrote the book on sex and marriage but have we engaged it in an authentic way? The divorce rate within the church is almost the same (50%) as  it is outside the church and nearly the same percentage of people in the church say they are addicted to porn. God gave us the guide but we clearly aren’t following it. I wonder if it’s not being followed because it’s not being taught?

There’s a positive wave in many churches today to refocus on giving a Biblical perspective on the issues of sex and marriage. The Bible is real about these issue and those of us who are spiritually leading others have to be real about these issues as well. These are vital parts of our society and they affect the way we view God’s creation and ultimately, the way view God. Sex and marriage are redeemable but it must start and end with God. His way is the best way.

As we approach this topic yet again at Centerpoint I have emotions that range from excited to apprehensive but my prayer is that hope will reign. Hope for the broken. Hope for the abused. Hope for the lost. God’s love is the only thing that can restore and redeem but people can’t experience what they have not seen and heard. May those of us who lead be willing to engage the hardest issue facing our society knowing that God has the answers.

CV

Sex, Marriage & Fairytales starts Sunday at Centerpoint

For the Regulars, the Sporadics & the First Timers

Many of us, from a variety of backgrounds, will attend church to celebrate Easter this Sunday. 

  • Some of us will be regular attenders.
  • Some of us will be sporadic attenders.
  • Some of us will be first timers.
  • The regulars might be sporadic because think they’ve already found the perfect church.
  • The sporadics might be sporadic because they have yet to find the perfect church.
  • The first timers might be first timers because they’ve avoided imperfect people who act like they’re perfect.

The issue with ALL of this is that many people, from each group, are focusing on the wrong thing. The perfect church is a myth. It’s an urban legend at best and we would be wise to shift our focus elsewhere if we ever want to experience an authentic connection with God. As many of us prepare to attend church this Sunday, here are a some thoughts to ponder:

  • For the Regulars: Get involved in more than filling a seat. Love your church but love God more. People will let you down but God’s love never fails.
  • For the Sporadics: It’s time to end your endless search. Stop trying to find a perfect place that doesn’t exist and get planted in a place that will help you grow relationally and spiritually.
  • For the First Timers: You might have been unwilling to give the church a chance but give God a chance . Let God guide you to a church that will admit their imperfections and help you grow.

It’s All About Who You Know

My dad used to remind me all the time that it’s not always what you know in life but who you know that often matters. Although I’ve seen this to be true in multiple facets of my life nowhere has it been more true than in the world of church planting.

What most people don’t realize is that Centerpoint was initially launched without a true support network in place. We had a lot of people praying for us & we had some people who gave generously to our cause. Believe it or not though, it takes more than prayer & money to plant a church & make it work. At the core of what it takes is a support network filled with people who are ready to help you navigate the trenches of the vision God has called you to fulfill.

For Centerpoint, that support network came from ARC (Association of Related Churches)  & thankfully, God led us to them before I had the chance to mess things up too much. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that plans often fail because we don’t seek counsel but the support & advice of others brings success. I type this blog as I prepare to depart for ARC’s annual All Access Conference. I am humbled by what they have meant to Centerpoint over the past 2.5 years & I’m being completely honest when I say that we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing, the way we are doing it, without their network of support.

God has called all of us to complete something & even with the knowledge, we must find the support that offers perspective & insight to make it work the way God wants it to work. That support usually comes from others we come know. Life was never meant to be lived alone & even when God stirs the soul of an individual to act, it most often takes a lot of individuals to help make that dream a reality. Learn to value who you know more what you know on the path towards fulfilling your journey. Knowledge can leave you lonely but relationships will sustain you.

Dream Big.

Find Support.

Watch it Grow.

Is the church like Simon Says

We sit, we stand.

We sing, we pray.

We sit again, we give.

We laugh, we cry.

We pray again, we go home.

No matter how different a church service may look, and how we as pastors & creatives might try to spin our unique approach, many of them are made up of similar rituals & elements. These rituals & elements aren’t bad but if we don’t know WHY we do them we can find ourselves following the commands & going through the motions of religion that ends up resembling a game of Simon Says.

I grow more & more convinced that this is one of the biggest reasons people minimize the importance of church in their life. They don’t know WHY we do the things we do & if we’re not careful, religion instead of relationship is ultimately encouraged.

I believe people crave genuine relationships & authentic life change but in order to find it, we must get past the exterior & tap into the WHY behind the WHAT. Why do we sing? Why do we reflect? Why do we serve? Why do we gather? As leaders, it’s easy to take these things for granted but in a world jaded by a list of religious do’s & dont’s we would do well to explore the WHY ourselves & then communicate it with our people. It’s all about getting back to the relationship & WHY is where it starts. 

CV

Centerpoint’s new series Simon Says starts Sunday March 11th. 

It Doesn’t Just Happen!

 

Last night I stood with a crowded room full of people as our worship leader (Josh Strange) & the CP Band kicked-off our first Collide of 2012. Collide is a quarterly worship event at Centerpoint we started last year & it’s had a growing amount of  success in it’s first 3 rounds.

Josh is an incredible worship leader & he’s help develop a talented band behind him. Everyone of these guys are as humble as can be & although they refuse to tout themselves I talk them up all the time because they’re that good. Last night people left saying the same types of things they say every week after the bands done with their set:

Wow that was great! 

Man they’re good!

Unbelievable!

Inevitably someone always says something like: “How did they get so good?” The tendency can be to over spiritualize this answer and although their God given skill & anointing has a lot to do with why they’re good I would argue it’s not not the main reason. These guys are good because of HARD FREAKING WORK! They rehearse 4-5hrs. every week to do a 4-5 song set on Sunday. They’re the first ones in the building & the last ones out. In preparation for last night’s Collide, they were rehearsing until after 1am the night before. That’s how they got so good.

I don’t care what your skill is. I don’t care how anointed you are. If you want to be great at what you do you have to put in the time because greatness doesn’t just happen. I believe God has placed a great deal of  world changers on this earth but unless we put in the time we will never see the full potential of greatness he has for us.

Thoughts to ponder…

CV 

Confident Humility

Back in October, the always generous Dave Ramsey gave a free copy of his then new Entreleadership book to all 15,000 leaders in attendance at the Catalyst Conference. I had a large reading list at the time but after the prodding of my good friend & CP’s Executive Pastor Matt Kysor, I finally got around to it. I have since read it twice & can’t stop thinking about what I  read.

Of all the things I could takeaway from the book, the one theme I can’t stop thinking about is the idea of confident humility. I don’t believe this is a phrase Ramsey ever uses directly but it’s weaved throughout every page of the personal stories he shares.

Ramsey’s stories show us a person who, through his experience, has recognized he is only as good as his team & the people he places around him. This is confident humility. The confidence comes by creating the team & making the tough decisions that guide the organization. The humility comes by learning from that team as much as we teach them & recognizing we can only do so much on our own.

Confident humility is what separates the Entrepreneurs from the EntreLeaders. These are two different types of people but instead of telling you how Entrepreneurs & EntreLeaders are different, consider this your tease to read the book.

EntreLeadership was an insightful glimpse into the life of an ordinary man who has channeled his passion to do extraordinary things & learned from others along the way. Ramsey’s honesty is refreshing and you finish the book with no doubt that this is truly a leader who practices what he preachers. This is a must read for anyone leading anything.

CV