Building Unity

We have a growing team at Creekside.  With the adoption of the Lynnwood Campus, we have added some more team pastors as well as members to our congregation.  One of the most important things that we are working on is building unity in our new congregation.

We recognize that there are two different histories between the two campuses but moving forward we are embarking on a new story. This is not easy work but it is important work.

Today in our staff meeting I shared what was on my heart about unity.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 says:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Even though we are coming from different histories we have so much in common because of what Jesus has done for us.  My prayer is that our team would recognize our distinct roles that we play in the team and that we would be unified by what Jesus has done and what Jesus is going to do.

Psalm 133 also talks about this:

1 How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.

When we operate in unity, we please God.  When our churches are working together we honor Jesus.  And we all can work together to accomplish the mission that Jesus has called us all to.

We know that we cannot afford to do ministry alone.  We know that we cannot do ministry for ourselves.  When we are unified around the mission of Jesus, we recognize that my gifts complement your gifts. My weaknesses are helped by your strengths.

Unity is so crucial.  We don’t have to agree on everything all the time. But we can still operate in unity when we are unified the mission of Jesus.

If you are part of Creekside Church, please be praying with us as we build unity.  And please don’t wait until someone gives you permission to practice unity.  Introduce yourself. Say hi to new people. Serve on a ministry team. Join a group with new people.

These are all things that help us to build unity.

These are all things that will help us please God.

Jesus wants our hearts

I think the biggest challenge that the church faces today is our unwillingness to give Jesus our whole hearts.

Sin and morality questions boil down to our unwillingness to submit our whole hearts to Jesus. Instead of letting Jesus do the work of transforming us by the power of the Holy Spirit we hold on to our sin because we find our identity there. That identity is tied to our hearts.  Jesus wants our hearts.

Churches struggling with leadership is a heart issue. We want what we want, not what Jesus wants.

Lack of financial support for the mission the church is called to reveals that there are people who have not given Jesus their treasure and that reveals their heart.

I cannot in good conscience read the Bible and tell people that Jesus is ok leaving them where they are if they haven’t given their whole hearts to him.  Jesus wants our hearts.

What would happen if Jesus had my whole heart?

My identity would be wrapped up in his plan for me instead of my plan for me.

My temptations would lose their power because they would not hold my heart.

I wouldn’t be so concerned with what that other church or pastor is doing, because I really only need to care what Jesus wants me to be doing.

My treasure would line up with his priorities.

My conversations would be shaped to reveal Jesus’ heart to the people in my life.

Where is this peace on earth I hear so much about?

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Yesterday we talked about the peace that Jesus makes available for all mankind. In our Softer Sunday service we sang this classic Christmas hymn. And as we were singing I was struck by the despair in the third verse.

This song was written during the American Civil War. A time when the nation was being torn apart by many factors. Perhaps the most widely known factor was the American South’s insistence on maintaining their right to own slaves. Black lives were seen as less than white people’s lives.

This song was written 150 years ago.

It breaks my heart that our country is still going through so much turmoil and pain around race relations. It is just sad.

And my white brothers and sisters. We don’t have to understand the pain the black community is feeling right now to still acknowledge that their pain is real. And their pain should be our pain.

I heard someone quote Martin Luther King Jr. And the quote has really struck me.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

The news tends to highlight the riots but the truth is people have been quietly and respectfully protesting the events in Ferguson and New York. When these respectful protests go unheard, this pain escalates.

Also frustrating, is that I feel like I can’t do anything to help.

But that’s not true. I can hear the cries of the hurting and broken around me and try to be a peacemaker. That’s what Jesus challenged his disciples to do in Matthew 5:9.

“Blessed are the peacemakers
For they will be called children of God.”

There is incredible pain all around us. My prayer is that the church will be their to mourn with those who mourn, pursue peace and reconciliation between people and God. And all the while keep praying and hoping for the day when Jesus will finally set all things right. When there will be true peace on earth.

Christmas is a time that reminds us that while we have not fully seen peace on earth. There is a day when we will truly see peace. And it’s only ultimately possible through the work of Jesus, as he makes peace between humanity and God available, and his followers get to share that peace with the world.

The Road Ahead

Today we begin a new chapter at Creekside Church. This is my first Sunday after as lead pastor of this amazing church. I know that I have a lot to learn as we move forward. I am trusting that Jesus will continue to do the work that he has already started in me.

There will be challenges.

There will be celebrations.

There will be lives changed by the Gospel.

Creekside as we look to the future together I ask that you pray with me. Pray for me and my family. Pray for the people in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. Pray that we will always say yes to the mission of helping people discover, trust and love Jesus Christ.

As we are launching Creekside Lynnwood, pray for wisdom and favor in the neighborhood. Pray the congregation in Lynnwood that we will build unity around the mission. Pray for the leadership teams in both campuses.

The road ahead of us is exciting and I am looking forward to going on this journey together. Let’s see where Jesus takes us.

Review: No More Dragons – Jim Burgen

20140522-210305-75785698.jpgThis book’s central metaphor Is borrowed from the scene from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Aslan removes the dragon scales from Eustace and heals him. Jim Burgen paints a picture of what Jesus can do in the lives of Christians who are willing to let Jesus radically transform their hearts.

Burgen does a great job of weaving in stories from his life, his own process of being undragoned, as well as events from his ministry experience where he has seen Jesus bring healing to hurting people. The real strength if Burgen’s writing is that he is not trying to be the expert on righteousness, he just wants to help people find the wonderful and amazing life of freedom that Jesus has to offer.

Burgen essentially points out that everyone has dragon like tendencies. The only way to free ourselves is to let Jesus undragon us. If you are carrying hurts from past relationships or experiences with God or church people you would benefit by reading this book. If you are struggling with your own sins and don’t know where to find freedom, this book can help you find healing with its constant reminder that Jesus has both truth and grace.

No More Dragons is a book that I would recommend to ministry leaders to get a glimpse of what their ministry could look like if they helped their church share the truth and grace that Jesus talked about. I would recommend it to Christians who are holding on to things that they know they need to give to Jesus. I would also recommend it to people who want to believe that Jesus and his followers have something to offer the hurts of this world.

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disclosure: I received this book for free as part of the booklookbloggers.com program. My review is my honest opinion about the book and I’m not just trying to be nice. If you are interested in joining the program click here
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Multiply Monday: Why do we need another church?

This is a question a lot of people might be asking. There are lots of churches already, why do we need another one? Why can’t people just go to those existing churches?

The simple answer is because they aren’t going to those other churches and even if those churches were full we would still need more churches in our communities to create space for people to discover, trust and love Jesus Christ.

A recent study said that churches that go Multisite continue to grow about 14% a year. Creekside is actually growing at a faster rate than that. Which is clearly the grace of Jesus. But we are nearing capacity at MLT and want to be good stewards of the growth that Jesus is bringing us.

Those 14% of people, where did they come from? Where some of them transfer growth from other churches? Probably. But a lot of them were probably people who found Jesus for the first time at a new campus in their neighborhood. Either way when mission focused church launches a new campus in a new community new people get to hear about the new life offered in Christ. And that is the most important reason to launch another campus. To help more people find Jesus.