Engagement

I was at the dentist this morning. (Don’t be jealous.)

I learned that the Hygienist (Anna) is a pastor’s wife. She asked me an important question. “What is the most difficult about leading a church?” This is a big question and difficult to answer at the dentist’s office, mainly because they ask questions and then immediately start working on your teeth. It’s hard to answer profound questions when your teeth are being cleaned. I have a brief moment to respond with one word.

Engagement.

I believe this is the greatest challenge that the church in the US is facing. There are so many things that are pulling at our attention. It used to be that the church’s “competition” was all the sinful behavior of the world. Now, the biggest competition is not blatantly sinful behavior. Our biggest competition all of the “good” things that we commit to.

Our culture has presented a buffet of options. The problem with buffets is never quantity, it’s quality. We fill our plates with all this stuff to consume, and it’s usually all fine. We don’t know how many times we are going to get through the buffet line, so we load that plate so full that stuff falls off the side.

This buffet mentality keeps our schedule so full because we don’t want to miss out on anything. We fill our work week with work, over-time, sports, school. We get up at 5am and go to bed at 11pm. We have very full days but we wake up every day tired.

By the time the weekend rolls around, we try to make up for lost time with recreation, family obligations, home projects, etc. When Sunday rolls around, our week has been so filled that we don’t have the physical, emotional, spiritual energy to gather with our church community this week. We say, we’ll be there next week.

But next week we get back in line in the buffet. Pretty soon, we find ourselves back at Sunday morning, worn out, exhausted, and we say, We’ll gather next week. This becomes a habit, and pretty soon we disengage and drift away.

As we have been reading through the book of Hebrews at Creekside, I have been reminded again and again, that the people of God, need each other. This Sunday, as part of the message, we are going to study Hebrews 10:24-25. This passage is a warning, to stay engaged with the community. We need us!

The hardest thing for the church today is engagement. When we have such a huge buffet of options in front of us, what are the most important things for us to pursue.

If we believe that Jesus is THE hope of the world, then our priorities in our lives should orient around Jesus. What are the ways that we can engage with Jesus?

Consider this video:

When our lives get filled with the small stuff (sand), the buffet options, there isn’t going to be room for the things that truly matter.

My prayer for the Church, not just Creekside, is that pastors and parishioners would foster engagement in the mission of Jesus in new and powerful ways. That we would not fill our schedules with all the options out there first, but to put the big rocks in first.

Here are some big rocks that we need to practice deliberately if we are going to engage with the Mission of Jesus:

  1. Sabbath – This is a great practice that helps us learn to say no to unnecessary things. Sabbath builds rest into our schedule. Put it on your calendar. Scheduling sabbath assumes that you are working, and makes sure that you are not always working. We cannot survive without rest.
  2. Prayer – Disciplines of prayer build rest periods throughout our days.
  3. Scripture – If we are only exposed to Bible teaching on Sundays, by the Bible “experts”, we are malnourished. Read the Bible throughout the week. Let God’s word shape your day and your priorities.
  4. Strengthening relationships – Have time for family and friends. Encourage each other around the dinner table, through groups.
  5. Serve others – Everyday is an opportunity to bless others. Look for ways to serve throughout the week
  6. Gather together – If you are part of church community then gathering is key. Hopefully when you gather, you are encouraged, equipped, challenged, and empowered to go out into your everyday world. And when you go out to that world, you have energy to engage in the mission of Jesus.

Engagement is key, but it doesn’t happen on accident. The mission of Jesus is accomplished as followers of Jesus engage with the teachings of Jesus, share the hope of Jesus, and open the doors for people to join the community of Jesus.

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.

Multiply Monday: Leaders and Opportunities

I recently read A Multi-Site Road Trip.  This book was essentially a tour of several different churches that are implementing Multi-Site methodology into their church.  There were many great lessons to be learned and it is a book that I plan to go back to over the next year.

Today I wanted to share one quote with you from Wayne Cordiero at New Hope in Hawaii:

“Our goal for satellites is not necessarily to add locations,” explains Wayne. “It is to develop new leaders. It is to edge these emerging leaders into their own teaching, where one day we can release them as stand-alone churches. When young leaders go out with this model, they have time to build relationships, develop teams, think about evangelism projects, do community outreach, and build leaders,” he says.

One of the key elements of multi-site church is raising up leaders.  I’m a firm believer that the church will never have too many leaders.  The key is willingness in current leaders to train people and then release people.  At Creekside we have talked a lot about being a sending church.  We send thousands of dollars to missions projects every year.  But we also need to send people.  One of the ways that we can send people is through campus launches.

But it starts with multiplying leaders.  So as we launch the Lynnwood Campus, we are looking for people who want to grow as leaders or become leaders.  But we are also looking for people who want to lead the next campus.  Lynnwood can’t be the end.

When Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses” he didn’t stop at Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  He left it pretty open when he said to the ends of the earth.

The only way that the church is going to faithfully carry out it’s mission is by sending out leaders who are called by God to specific communities.  Maybe Jesus is calling us by saying, “You will be my witnesses to Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Everett, Lake Stevens, and on and on.

But we need to multiply leaders in order to keep multiplying opportunities.

Multiply Monday

Creekside is launching a new campus in Lynnwood this Fall! Kathy and I are going to be leading this campus! We are really excited to see what Jesus is going to do over the next several years at Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and beyond as we trust Jesus and goes where he leads.

Why are we doing this? Because Jesus keeps bringing people to Creekside in Mountlake Terrace. We want to continue to grow our ability to help people discover, trust and love Jesus. So we are going to a multisite strategy to open up more space in MLT and to reach people in Lynnwood.

We don’t know where exactly we are going to meet but we do know that we are going to Lynnwood. Please be praying for wisdom and clarity on where Jesus wants us to establish this campus.

During this season of preparation I want to share with you things that I am learning. So on Mondays I want to take some time to talk about Multiplication.

Today Tony Morgan posted this interview with Warren Bird. It’s and interested video and it’s encouraging to see that Multisite is becoming more and more common and it is helping to facilitate more growth for churches.

9 Years at Creekside

Wow.  9 years is a long time.  It is 27% of my life so far.  It’s amazing to think about the journey that God has led Creekside and my family on.  When I started at Creekside as the youth pastor I really had no idea that my role would grow and change as much as it has.

Some highlights over the last 9 years.

1) moving into Mountlake Terrace

2) Watching Jordan teach himself drums using Rock Band

3) Watching Community Groups grow and become an integral part of our culture.

4) Leading different teams to Cofradia, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras and seeing how lives are impacted by love and generosity. And watching how serving changes the lives of those who serve.

5) Preaching. It’s an honor every time I get to share what God is teaching me through his word.  And I love helping people get to know Jesus better.

6) Most important, watching my kids come to love Jesus more and more.  It is an incredible blessing to see the impact that our kids leaders have first hand.  I do what I can to help Joss and Judah know Jesus more and more but it is nice to know that I am not alone in the process.

It’s been an amazing 9 years so far and to celebrate I am going to take a bunch of people on a mission trip to Roatan.

Peculiar

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We have been walking around the neighborhood in Salto. Every time we have passed by this car. we don’t know what it is or who made it. It kind of looks like a Volkswagen Thing but its not.

This morning we were doing a prayer walk and we passed this car again. I felt the Spirit say to me that this peculiar car is a metaphor for the church. We are called to be a peculiar people. We are called to be a little different, to stand out. In the States it’s really easy to just blend in but the church isn’t supposed to blend it. We are set apart. We are in the world but not of the world.

It’s a great metaphor for the church but an even better metaphor for the church and missions in Uruguay. The church has a very small footprint in this country. The government basically eliminated any church influence in the nation. For example people don’t have a common understanding of Christmas or Easter. They call those holidays Family Day and Tourism Day respectively.

Christians here in Uruguay are different by default here. In the States we have lost a lot of our particularity. How can we gain it back?

Center

What is the center of the church?

If it’s the sermon, that’s wrong.
If it’s the music style that’s off.
If it’s the groups system that’s a great thing but it can’t be the center.

There are a lot if things that fight to be the center of your church. And often they seem like they would be good candidates. But the only center that will truly hold is Jesus. The goal of every church should be to get people to Jesus.

That’s really how we should evaluate everything we do. Will this (insert ministry, project, goal, event) bring people closer to Jesus?

Everything else becomes secondary. Jesus must be primary. Jesus must be the center.