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Category Archives: Church Growth

Getting Ready For Company

Our theme as a church in 2015 is “Getting Ready For Company”. This means that we are preparing ourselves and our church so that people can feel safe and at home with us. This is going to work out in three particular areas of our church: our Life Groups, our Facilities, and our Structures. I just want to take a moment and talk about some of the exciting ways that we are preparing this year so that we are ready as we continue to grow.

Structures

What I mean by structures is the way in which we do things at New Life. In established churches and especially small churches it is often hard for new people to feel welcomed, or sort of break into the social fabric of our community. So we are developing practices, and ways for New Life  to be as welcoming as possible and for people to get connected as quickly and easily as possible.

The first way we are doing that is with our Connector events. Connector events are times when we can get together to just connect, to get to know each other, to grow in relationships and build community. We currently have an on-going youth connector that happens the first Friday of each month, and a regular men’s connector is in the works. We have plans for other connectors both on-going and single events to make it as easy and enjoyable as we can for all of us to connect at New Life.

The second structure that is helping us get ready for company is our new volunteer orientation. We will be rolling it out in the next month or so. If we don’t have a clear way for people to get involved many people may never get involved, even if they want to. The volunteer orientation helps everyone know what to expect from the church, and what will be expected of them as a volunteer. It will be a great entry point to further connection.

Facilities

We will be making some major and not so major facilities updates and improvements in 2015. Our biggest project is water proofing our basement. This will be a major undertaking but will help to make our basement a much more usable space. Other projects like painting, carpeting, and decorations are already in the works. We will also finish work on the bathrooms.

Life Groups

This is really the most important feature of our preparations this year. Outside of our leadership team we only have two Life Groups now. Life Groups help New Life be much more connected and in a much deeper way. Life Groups are also our means for making disciples at New Life. The success of our church at accomplishing the vision God has given us ultimately will be won or lost in our Life Groups.

Our goal this year is to triple our Life Groups. Each Life Groups is full with about 10-12 people. So if we triple the number of Life Groups through New Life from 2 to 6 it  will give us enough room for 60 adults to be in Life Groups. That means 60 adults at least 30 families maturing in Christ, connecting with people and God. This isn’t enough to continue growth but as the numbers of Life Groups increase the speed at which they increase will also grow. In other words it will be quicker to go from 6 Life Groups to 12  than it will to go from 2 to 6.

What Can I Do?

The most important thing you can do is get in a Life Group and make sure you are growing in your walk with Christ.
Secondly, when we have volunteer orientation make it a point to be there.
Third, get involved. Pray and think about where you could serve. The Volunteer orientation will help with that.

Finally, Give! Givve your time, Give your prayers, Give your abilities and Yes, Give your money. Preachers don’t like to talk about it any more but it will cost money to do some of these things we need to do to make our church welcoming.

 

Furtick’s Haters

Steven Furtick is a hugely popular preacher. He is pastor of Elevation church in Charlotte NC, where he is lead pastor of a church of 8,000+ persons and has seen thousands come to faith in Christ over the churches short history. I believe largely because of his success in ministry and his youth Furtick has received many accusations in regards to his genuineness. I can’t say I know everything there is to know about pastor Furtick or elevation nor do I have a desire to. And I won’t say I endorse everything he says because their probably isn’t a person on this planet that I would endorse everything they say. However, what I will say is two things 1) I believe that Furtick is not a heretic and does preach the gospel. I believe that Furtick is a genuine Christian with a genuine love for scripture and people and desires to see the two connected. 2) I believe what Jesus said in Mark 9:40 ‘For he who is not against us is for us.” and that he was right.

With that being said watch this video from Furtick addressing those that have accused him:

Call me weird but I really do believe that we are all in this together, Christians that is. If one ministry or one church or one pastor or one person is successful it is not our job to point out how they aren’t perfect or how I would have done it differently. It is our job to celebrate some more people in the kingdom, or more orphans placed, or more hungry feed, or more Christians discipled  Why aren’t we celebrating and more importantly working with each other. I know that a large reason for this is denominations and I am no fan of denominations in a general sense. I believe they serve some good purposes but they also serve to bring much division. However, I believe that the Evangelical Free Church of America has it right on at least one point of their distinctives. They state that:

The Evangelical Free Church of America embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith.

We believe in the spiritual unity of the Church though not necessarily in structural union. We join with other Christians and other denominations of like, precious faith in common goals and ministries to accomplish the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. But we believe that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve our distinctives. We recognize that union in structure does not guarantee unity of spirit.  Our foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians. Check out there statement of faith to see just how humble their orthodoxy is. They are foundational and that is about it.

They are right and Furtick is right. It is time for us to stop “Hating” each other and start loving each other for the sack of the world. It is time to stop negatively pointing out how every other church isn’t like us and start celebrating the diversity of the work that God wants done. I would like to call on all those reading this blog. All those at New Life and around the world to be known by your love for other Christians. To be labeled as the church and the people who work with other Christians to see this world changed. Plenty of Churches say they would work with others if a situation came up and will if there is a big crusade or something. That is not what I mean. What I mean is we ought to start seeking out how we might partner with others. To deliberately search for opportunities to unite the body of Christ. I want to see more and more and more partnerships that don’t find differences but seek out similarities in the same missions to see people saved, lives changed, and the kingdom of God grown and strengthened.

We are in this together, lets start acting like it.

 

Our Job or His?

As many of you know I am a student of church. I love church. I Love being a part of a church, meeting with the church, ministering to the church, worshiping with the church, seeing the church grow and minister. I love the church. And out of this love and study I attempt to be informed of many aspects of church from history to ecclesiology (theology of church) to methodology of church, past and present. So in a moment of contemplation this week I had a thought about a modern form of church, that is to say a method of doing church. It is important to note here that the method of church might be un-biblical but there is not a complete method of “doing church” that is presented in scripture. That being understood the method of church can and should change as the culture, in which the church is present, changes but that the message (that being the eternal truths of scripture) should never change.

However, before I address this modern form it would be beneficial to first address the most daunting issue in many many stagnant churches. This issue is really more of a mind-set. Many church congregants view the work ministry as the pastor’s job. And those many congregants are little more than that: congregants. They are more than happy to congregate in the name of God but when it comes time to serve in that same name these people are no where to be found. In many churches this is not only a large issue but the foundational  the primary, the most important, and the determinant issue in the future of the church.

With that being understood there is a method that has been widely propagated throughout the western church called seeker friendly or seeker sensitive. My intention is not to insult or demean churches that employ this method but rather to make a few observations.

First allow me to explain this method to those of you that might mot be as familiar. One must understand that this method is a broad umbrella which encompasses many differing renditions of this particular method. That being said the seeker sensitive method typically designs their main corporate gathering or a main corporate gathering to be inclusive, attractive, “sensitive” to those that have not received Christ. These people may be open to receiving salvation or inquisitive toward the ideas of God, Christ, Christianity, and/or religion. None the less these persons are not follower of Christ and the primary corporate gathering of the church becomes the primary outreach mechanism of the church.

Now we might could debate weather or not this method is unbiblical. Remember I stated that there were unbiblical methods of church though there were no explicitly biblical ones. I would say that the broad umbrella of “seeker sensitive” churches or church services (keeping in mind that this classification is painting with a broad brush) is not explicitly unbiblical. Are there decidedly unbiblical “seeker sensitive” churches or services? Yes, But that can easily be said of any method, theology, denomination, ect. One must remember that just because a particular method is not for me, or I might not like or agree with it, doesn’t mean its unbiblical, it just means its not for me. And that’s a good thing that I come to that conclusion because those churches or services likely weren’t designed for me to like.

With all that being said, most “seeker sensitive” situations do a great job at encouraging their people to invite new people, which is great. However, that is where most of the involvement stops. Isn’t this prolonging and heightening the “That’s the preachers job” mentality? At least in the area of evangelism. Its like saying the average congregant couldn’t communicate the truth of salvation, the depth of the good news but that it is the preacher that needs to be relied upon to do this.

I said all that to say this. We are all capable of communicating the profound truth of the gospel to a lost, hurt, and dying world and beyond that we are all commanded to.

 

Pray for Daniel

That got your attention huh? You are expecting me to tell you he is sick, he lost his job, or maybe his wife gave him a black eye. Lots of times when we request prayer for someone, we Christians care more for the “gossip” than we do the actual prayer request don’t we?

But do pray for Daniel. He has the awesome privilege and responsibility to preach this week on WORSHIP. I am so excited about this sermon series.  He covered Outreach last week in his sermon, Worship will be this week, and then we will cover the other two purposes of the church, Fellowship and Discipleship.

Daniel not only uses his musical gifts to bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior on Sunday mornings, he realizes that it isn’t a one time a week event. He and I both want to share with you that often times there is a disconnect between the God we worship on Sunday morning and the God we follow during the week. Friends, worship matters! It matters because God is the only One worthy of our praise. It matters because worshipping God is the very reason that we were created.

Worship isn’t primarily about music, techniques, songs, and emotion. Worship is about our hearts. It’s about what and who we love more than anything else.

My prayer today is that Daniel will be encouraged. I pray that he will bring forth God’s word in a way that only the Holy Spirit can empower. I pray for my heart. I pray for the heart of those in attendance this week, that we will be able to receive His word.

 
 

I don’t hate them Daniel…….

Or do I? We watched a video Sunday with Penn Jillette speaking. He is an atheist but tells of a man who gave him a Bible and told him of the love of Christ. Penn, although not converted yet, respects the man for sharing his beliefs. If a Mack truck is going to hit you, says Penn, will I not push you out-of-the-way of harm? Penn goes on to ask, “how much do you have to hate someone to not share Jesus with them, if in fact that is what you believe”. Likewise, in Daniels blog Monday, one of his discussion questions ask the same question. I have to ask myself. Do I hate my friends and family whom I don’t share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with? Do I hate those in my circle of influence if I don’t tell them of the wonderful love of God? If I just invite them to church, is that OK?

When I hear Penn or Daniel ask the question, “how much do you have to hate…”, I want to scream. “NO! I don’t hate them! I don’t hate anyone.” Well, if that is a true statement, why don’t I share Christ? If it isn’t hate, then what is it? It is just that I am too busy. It’s not a priority. I have other agendas. There is so much to do and so little time. I have work, kids, a wife, a handicapped mother, school, church, sports, and so many other things that are screaming for my attention. It is not a priority right now in my life.

Wait a minute! I’m too busy with….what is that C word I used? Church? I am too busy with church? That’s an excuse for not showing the love of God and sharing the good news to others? Church? Seems that I am conflicted. Seems that I need to refocus my priorities.

Perhaps another reason I don’t share is that I don’t truly see the relevance of church in my own life. Yes, I attend most Sundays, but it really isn’t all that life changing. During the week, I don’t see Christ at work in me or around me. Church is just something I do.

Priorities. That is what it come down to. If I am too busy with anything, not to share Christ, then I am too busy. If I don’t see God at work around me, then I am too busy. If church isn’t relevent to my life, then I need to ask why.

Let me encourage you to evaluate your priorities. The greatest command is to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor. These two need to be your priority. Once Christ is first in your life, you can’t help but to share his love with others.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Church, Church Growth, Other, Sermons

 

3500 Churches Die in America every year. I don’t think that anyone can hear that statistic and think that that is a good thing. Perhaps there was a time that we had enough churches. But today the local church is falling further and further into a state of irrelevance. There is another shocking statistic I shared Sunday that explains by and large why these local bodies are closing up shop, and that is that only 2% of people that claim to be Christian ever share their faith.

Why Church? Some times the reason why church is so that we can feel like we don’t have to do something. I mean if we read Acts 1:8: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” We might actually believe that we are to be witnesses, or representatives of Christ in this world. I mean what a thought. Its a good thing that we have the church so that someone else can do that instead of us. (sarcasm added)

The problem with this thinking is that even though God has not called us all to be Peter the apostle  Billy Graham, or Jerry Falwell he has called us to be his witnesses his representatives.

We are also called to be the church. So what is Church? Is it a building? An organization? NO! It’s a group of Christians that agree to partner together to fulfill the purpose of the church.

So what is the purpose of the church? Ephesians 4:10-11 says that the church is to equip Christians and seek the betterment of the Christians that comprise it. So the church has to help the individual do what the individual has been called to do. In Acts 1:8 and Matt. 28 Jesus calls his followers to tell people about him and that is what the church is to do.

Adult discussion:

  1. How much do you hate your un-saved friends, neighbors, and family?
    Why aren’t you showing them the Love of God?
  2. How much do you hate your un-churched friends, neighbors, and family?
    Why aren’t you showing them the support, encouragement, and benefit of a church community?
  3. What are we afraid of?
  4. What does the church have to offer those that aren’t church people?

Family Discussion:

  1. Who are some people we can invite to church?
    If you don’t know anyone not going to church who can you reach out to?
  2. Why should people go to church?
  3. How can people be saved?
  4. How can we show people that we love them and Jesus loves them?

 

 

Why Church?

Ephesians 4:11 states that the church exists: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

This is clear in its expression for the reason that God has invented the church. The church is to equip Christians for service, that is to say they are to be prepared, trained, resourced and given opportunity  to serve and obey God. The rest of scripture clearly shows that the four areas with which the church is responsible for this equipping are in the broad areas of Outreach, Community (or Fellowship), Discipleship, and Worship. All that the church is to do according to scripture falls into one of these categories. The necessary point, however, is to understand that the church is supposed to equip, not do. The church as an entity is not to worship for the individual but rather equip them to worship. So the church could teach a person about God, and provide a service with music were that person might come to express worship to God with their fellow believers  The church is not to try to make the congregants better Christians (i.e. disciples). But rather equip them through discipleship. That is the church would train, and mentor, provide classes, and service projects where a person might grow in Christ-likeness. The church can’t fellowship for the individual but rather provides opportunities for Christians to gather and build lasting relationships. Most controversially  the church is not to outreach for the Christian but rather to provide them with the training, resources and opportunities to assist them in reaching out as individuals. More on Outreach in Next Sunday’s Sermon. Be sure to invite your Friends.

The big answer to the question Why Church? Is that we are stronger together than we are apart. Yes you can accomplish most of what the church offers as an individual but most will have greater success when people do it together. you will grow more, you will be supported, encouraged  accountable, and serving more when you are building relationships in a healthy, biblical Christian Community.

At New Life we have a Purpose, a Mission, and a Win. The purpose is the same for all churches to equip Christians in Outreach, Worship, Community, and Fellowship. This is the subject of our current sermon series.

The Mission of New Life is our specific calling and gifting from God for our community. New Life is to be a place that reaches the de-churched, and the “but” people to welcome them into an active, accountable, equipping, church community. The de-churched are those that have some connection with church and many of which claim Christ. Some of them are actually saved some aren’t. The reasons they aren’t involved in church today vary as much as the people themselves. Some of them were hurt by the church. Some of them find the church boring, hypocritical, or non-Christ-like. Some simply left a church because they moved or the church died and they never found another church. The “but” is the common expression of de-churched people…”I’d go to church “But”… I know I should go to church “But”… New Life must be a hospital or rehab center for these people where they can come and fellowship and heal from these “Buts”. However, New Life is not called to be a Nursing home where people come and wallow in their hurts. When a person goes to a rehab center they are expected to recover and leave better than they were before. When a person enters a nursing home there is often little hope that they will get to leave, or be better than they once where. The Church is a hospital and rehab center not a Nursing home. So New Life is supposed to reach the de-churched through Outreach, Community, Discipleship, and Worship, and then involve and equip them for these same areas of service. The purpose is the means for accomplishing the mission.

Finally, New Life’s Win is how New Life is able to determine whether or not  and how well they are fulfilling their purpose and mission. The Win at New Life is connecting People with People and People with God. After all what is Worship and Discipleship people connecting and growing in relationship, understanding and intimacy with God. What is Outreach and Community, People connecting and building relationships with people. So New Life is winning in this world when we help in Connecting People with People and People With God.

 
 
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