And often people misunderstand a pastor or church leader's focus on reaching others. When they hear someone talk about numbers or be concerned with the number of unchurched people who are coming, they immediately assume that our motivation is wrong. They assume that we are more about numbers than people. But that couldn't be further from the truth. For me, every single number is a name, face, relationship, and person that needs to hear the life-altering love of God. That's why I'm passionate about the numbers.
I am reading Pop Goes The Church by Tim Stevens and he quotes Steven Furtick about this same subject. He puts it in perspective in a way that resonates with me:
"If you get the impression that we're all about the numbers, let me clarify. Of course we're all about the numbers. What else would we be all about? The spaghetti supper? To hell with the spaghetti supper. I want to see some changed lives!"
Here's the deal: God has called me to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to reach those who are far from Him. If that makes people uncomfortable, so be it. Jesus made people uncomfortable from time to time too. I'll take that kind of company...
In my opinion, Vince Antonucci and Perry Noble were the top notch of Whiteboard. Don't get me wrong...the whole lineup was incredible. But these two guys absolutely ROCKED my world. I've been following their blogs for some time and I really admire how they are both leading their churches to do whatever it takes to reach those who are far from God. Here are the highlights...
Vince Antonucci - Pastor of Forefront Church in Virginia Beach, VA. You can check out his blog here.
- His Big Idea: That we would do whatever it takes to reach and save God's lost children.
- How is it possible that I lived for 2o years in the USA and never heard of Jesus?
- Only 2.2% of churches are experiencing growth and much of that is transfer growth.
- If we are honest, we have to admit that we are reaching people - just not lost people.
- Reaching the lost was the passion of Jesus. Is it ours?
- If we are not close to people who are far from God, then we are not as close to God as we think we are. Because God's heart is always with those far from Him.
Perry Noble - Pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, S.C. You can check out his blog here.
- The reason we do what we do is that for some reason Jesus wanted you. He chose you. He called you.
- We don’t volunteer for this. We are called. If we're volunteering, we’re stupid
- If ministry ever overtakes our time with God we have forsaken our calling for the expectations of others.
- There is way to much imitation in the church and not enough revelation.
- God is not green. Kermit is green. We can save the planet and everyone on it could go to hell.
- Preach the gospel of Jesus. You get more than Jesus and you have screwed up.
- It will be a cold day in hell when I preach a message on recycling at the neglect of the Gospel message.
- I’m crazy enough to think God has at least one more big move in him.
- The time has come for us to stop walking if fear and start walking in authority. Do you really want to be a prostitute for the rest of your life?
- We need to stop preaching about God's sovereignty and then cowering in fear in front of the deacon or elder board because we don't want to lose our paycheck.
- If you are a pastor you will experience spiritual warfare and temptation on a level that those in your congregation will never understand.
Whiteboard was all that it promised to be and more. I'm glad I made the investment in my own growth and ministry to be there. I'm still processing all that I heard and learned - and that's a good thing.
Mark Dever - Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. and President of 9Marks Ministry:
- The church will win. There is no question about it.
- Our churches should be places where it is normal to love God and be growing spiritually. Everything else should be diverse.
- Church is not an event to be produced, but a community to be cultivated.
- We need to hold every member accountable to live like Jesus so his message is reflected.
- When we read Hebrews 13:17 our souls should be fed and terrified at the same time.
John Burke - Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, TX:
- What got Jesus crucified was good, religious people addcited to self.
- Too many times we labor to sell a spiritual product that we are not drinking deeply from ourselves.
- The way we love God is by responding in obedience.
Ed Stetzer - Church Planter and Director of Lifeway Research
- For most of us, ministry will not look like what we see at a conference. Conferences are like ministry pornography - something we will never have.
- Don't be afraid to say to God, "I don't get it."
- Too many times we teach a gospel that doesn't last through the first tragedy that comes people's way.
- Saying "I don't know" is not a sign of spiritual immaturity, but rather a sign of maturity.
I've still got two speakers to blog about from Whiteboard - Perry Noble and Vince Antonucci. These two were my favorite sessions, so they are definitely coming...It just may be toward the end of the week.
- I got to spend a few days in a couple conferences where men of God poured into me. I am grateful to the people who put these events together, to those who helped lead, and for the opportunity to be a part of it all.
- Memorial day and being in DC has got me reflecting on my gratitude for our men and women, both past and present, who serve our country in our Armed Forces. They are the REAL heroes in our midst. THANK YOU!
- I am blessed with great friends, family, and ministry partners. Each day I am reminded of this. In fact, these past few days would not have even been possible without the great generosity of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have graciously opened their home to Jo and I and have been incredible to us. Thank you Jerry and Ingrid!
Let me ask you this: What do you have to be thankful for? Who do you need to show your gratitude to? When you and I begin to reflect on what we have to be thankful for it shows us how incredibly blessed we are. Give it some thought...And while you're at it, send that card or email to say thanks to those who you're grateful for.
Highlights from Tim's "Big Idea":
- In most communities, churches are not making an impact. In fact, in many cases they are getting in the way of the gospel.
- While church growth is declining, spiritual interest in our culture is on the rise.
- We must leverage the culture or risk losing our impact.
- Jesus came to us and met us where we are. He communicated by using signs, symbols, and methods of the culture of the day. We should do the same.
Highlights from Darrin's "Big Idea":
- Idols are root sins. They are the things that hide deep within our hearts.
- You are ruled by what you worship - either the Creator or something in creation.
- Sin happens because we treasure our idols more than we treasure our God.
- An idol is anything in my life that occupies a place that should be occupied by God alone.
- If you are maturing, the longer you're a Christian, the more jacked up you realize you really are.
More highlights and incredible thoughts coming from my Whiteboard notes. Just be patient.
- "The longer I do ministry and the longer I lead, the more I covet the favor of God."
- "Your best thought and your best day is 13.2 billion light years away from God's." See Isaiah 55:8-9.
- Our sin is the smallness of our dreams.
- Too many times we live our lives (plans and dreams) as if God was not part of the equation.
- We don't need more meetings or appointments or programs. We need to get with God and spend more time with Him.
- Too many times we stop doing ministry out of imagination and start doing ministry out of memory.
- We need some dreams we can accomplish but we also need some dreams that are way beyond our ability to accomplish.
- If ever there was a dreamer, it was Jesus. The Great Commission is the Great Dream.
- "I would rather have one God idea than 1,000 good ideas."
- Spent most of the weekend in Corpus Christi. My sister-in-law Jackie graduated from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, so Johanna and I headed down for the graduation. My friend and now-summer-intern Jaron joined us for the ride and we spent the weekend with Jo's family celebrating Jackie's graduation. Congrats Jackie!
- Jaron and I spent some of Saturday looking over things for our upcoming BEACH BREAK YOUTH CAMP which will also be in Corpus Christi in June. We also spent some time tasting the seafood...
- I preached this morning. Talked about the story of the prodigal son and How To Acquire A Pig's Lifestyle. God has an incredible plan for every one of us, but so many times we make choices that have us living life in the pig's pen. One of the best ways to keep your life out of the pig's pen is to spend your resources - your life, your time, your talent, and your treasure - on things that will last! Spend it on the kingdom!
- Had too many meetings today at church...Have I mentioned lately that meetings aren't my favorite things? But we did see some good things come from them...
- Super excited about leaving Tuesday for The Whiteboard Sessions. This is gonna' rock!
- My Papa's birthday is Monday. Happy Birthday Papa!
- Got to hang with some of our youth workers tonight...I absolutely love our team and love that I get to serve with people who I'd hang out with even if we weren't in this thing together...It just makes it more incredible that we are!
Pop Goes The Church by Tim Stevens - This book is all about using culture to engage, communicate, and reach our world with the love of Christ. It's right up my alley and I can't wait to dig into this one. Tim will also be speaking at Whiteboard next week, which is one of the reasons I am pumped about that conference.
Lord Save Us From Your Followers by Dan Merchant - This is one of those books that I was drawn to by the title. After reading a couple reviews, this should be a good one.
Please pray for us as we attend this conference. We both think that it is going to be life-altering for us and we want to be able to be stretched and hear all that God has in store for us.
Happy Mother's Day Mom! I hope that everyone who reads this has already taken time to call your mom today and wish her a Happy Mother's Day. When it comes to godly women in my life, I have, without a doubt, won the lottery. My grandmothers were incredible women who invested so much in who I am. My mom has poured so much love and support into me. She has shown me time and again what it means to be a Christ-like servant. And my wife is an amazing woman who loves Jesus with all that she is and who is an incredible partner in ministry. When I think about how these godly women have poured into my life and how they've influenced me, I am so thankful for these blessings from God.
In honor of Mother's Day, check out this video by the Skit Guys...Happy Mother's Day to all you moms!
One of the guy's who is motivating and inspiring me most in this area is Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, S.C. I've been reading his blog for a few months now and he has some incredible things to say about vision and leadership.
Check out his post about how to know if your vision is from God by clicking here. It's great stuff and well worth the few seconds it takes to read. Check it out!
- Around lunch on Friday we left Lockhart and headed to Houston. Our 3 year anniversary was last Wednesday so I suprised Johanna with a night on the town in Houston. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Houston and had an AMAZING dinner at the Spindletop...The food was awesome and they gave us free dessert for our anniversary! I am lucky to be married to such an absolutely incredible woman of God. To be able to serve alongside her and have her in my life is truly a gift from God. I love you babe!
- Saturday we slept in and then headed to Bridge City, TX. We stopped along the way in Baytown to see Jo's granma.
- We were headed to Bridge City for me to speak at CommonGround Community Church. My friend Brandon is on staff there and this is the third time we've got to be involved in what's God is doing there...If you live in the Golden Triangle Area, check this church out! They meet at the Bridge City Community Center @ 10:30 on Sunday mornings! Awesome people!
- Had a good ol' fish fry at Brandon's house on Saturday night once we got into town.
- Last night after driving home for almost 5 hours we got in the car and headed to Austin. Our good friend Daniel had his 21st birthday dinner at Trudy's. Good food, better friends, and some Starbucks afterwards made for a great night.
- That about wraps it up...I am preaching this weekend and next weekend here in Lockhart so it should lead to a couple busy weeks!
My grandmother passed away Monday morning. It was sudden and unexpected. It has been a long time since I have felt this hurt and this numb at the same time.
I preached her funeral on Wednesday and did my best to sum up a life that has impacted me and many others far beyond words. I tried my best to honor someone who was my role model, my friend, my mentor, my advisor, my encourager, and my biggest fan.
Please pray for my family. Pray for my grandfather who lost his wife of 57 years, for my dad and mom, and for me & my brother and our wives. I know that we have a God who is a God of comfort and peace. He gives grace and strength in our time of need. And we are in need.
At some point, I'll try to put to words what an incredible legacy my grandmother left on this earth...But right now, I'm too spent for words...