Sunday, August 21, 2011

Open a Door

I preached on Colossians 4:2-6 today. The sermon is online here.  While I don't always use extra biblical stories or illustrations in my sermons, I did yesterday. In fact, I used several.  The two that really resonated with me were these:

In 1269 Kublai Khan sent a request from Peking to Rome for "a hundred wise men of the Christian religion...And so I shall be baptized, and when I shall be baptized all my baron and great men will be baptized, and their subjects baptized, and so there will be more Christian here than there are in your parts." The Mongols were then wavering in the choice of a religion. It might have been, as Kublai forecast, the greatest mass religious movement the world has ever seen. The history of all Asia would have been changed. 
But what actually happened? Pope Gregory X answered by sending two Domnican friars. They got as far as Armenia, could endure no longer and returned home. So passed the greatest missionary opportunity in the history of the church. 

And this poem...

Press on. 

Nothing in the world 

Can take the place of persistence. 

Talent will not; 

Nothing is more common 

Than unsuccessful men 

With talent. 

Genius will not: 

Unrewarded genius 
Is almost a proverb. 

Education will not; 
The world is full of 

Educated derelicts. 

Persistence and determination 

Alone are important

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jeff Johnson Birthday Wish


I wanted to write you a birthday wish but I fell asleep and had the weirdest dream. I wanted to share with you the dream to see if you could interpet it for me. 

I was in Colorado gazing at the beauty of a mountain Where the River Runs swiftly down towards the valley when all of a sudden I was Shaken by a man in a bear suit. I yelled, “Reveal Yourself!” but alas, he didn’t! Then I shouted, “I know Who You Are! You are Matt Chandler!”  He laughed a loud laugh and took off the bear suit head, which made a loud clicking noise. I asked Matt, “What are you doing here?”  He said in a distinct Native American Indian accent, “Here I Am To Worship.”  I said, “by yourself?” (Thinking that I could hang with him because you know it takes like a year/week/month to get on Homeboy’s calendar!) And he said, “No. Jeff Johnson is supposed to Meet With Me.”  I asked “why here? I mean we are at 13,000 feet, Matt!”

He said, “I don’t know why So High either.  Jeff just asked me to meet him up here and he’s my boy and I love him so I came!” I was like, “Matt, I Stand In Awe of your Undying Love for Jeff.” And Matt was like, “Joel, you have no idea of how much I love Jeff. I worship the ground he walks on!”  I was like, “Matt, Bro, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to have a Heart Of Worship when the worship terminates on man and not on God? I mean, Bro, you’ve preached on this and You Have Spoken against this for years! You are acting like He Rose from the dead when he is just a mortal man Who Is Like You!”

Immediately Matt fell face down on the dirt.  You could see The Fear come over Matt’s face as if God himself had decided to Enter In the conversation.  He Rose from the ground and confessed sin and shared with me that he wanted nothing more than God Over Us.  In fact, I believe I heard him even pray, “Ruin Me on this frappin Glorious Day.” 

Just then you came walking around the trail wearing a “Jesus Is Mine English Teacher!” t-shirt!”  Matt proclaimed loudly, “Why you drawing attention to yourself Homeboy?  You can’t be bringing Glory To Your Name, Jeff! It wasn’t you that died for us on that Old Rugged Cross, was it?"  You got so mad and yelled, “Bleecker was right! I should have dropped you from my ‘A’ List Friends a long time ago! I’m Movin’ On!” 

I said to you both, “Look Men, I’m headed Home unless you guys Reign in this foolishness! I’m Amazed you guys even call yourself Christians! You both would be so much Stronger if you’d just accept that the true Beauty of the Cross is the Passion that God has for us to be one in Him and with one another!"

Then you started crying and Matt started laughing at you and John Piper came around the trail and said, "Teach Me How to Dougie."  Then I woke up and I realized that it had all been a crazy dream and that I had to get back to reviewing my sermon for tomorrow with @barachurch.  So Happy Birthday, Jeff Johnson! I hope you can tell me what my dream means someday!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Church Planting Myths

My buddy is speaking on church planting on the subject of Myths of Church Planting and emailed me and asked me to share some of the myths I've encountered in my first 20 months of planting.  Here is my reply:

Here you go...

Myth: It takes money to plant a church.  Truth: It takes a man with courage and conviction. Money doesn't raise itself. 

Myth: Play to your strengths:  Truth: Staff to your strengths. People people can't do it without Project people. 

Myth: Play to your strengths:  Truth: Staff to your strengths. Project people can't do it without People people. 

Myth: Coaches help some.  Truth: When your coach says develop teams and you fly solo, you're an idiot. 

Myth: Building (planting) a church is sexy and cool.  Truth: Foundations aren't sexy. Concrete and ugly form board aren't sexy. But neither is stopping to repair the crappy house you built too quickly without counting the cost. 

Myth: If you plant and water, God will cause the growth!  Truth: You can't deny the Law of the Farm. You can plant. You can water. But if you can't wait, you'll either dig up good seed (quit too early) or yell at the seed to grow (go nuts) or pull up something that isn't ready to produce fruit (shallow church). 

Myth: You only thought you had dealt with your father wound, people pleasing and fear of man issues before you plant. Truth: You haven't. 

Myth: If you don't delegate, you'll struggle.  Truth: If you don't delegate, you die. 

Myth: Church Planting is Hard. Truth: Church Planting is Brutal. 

Myth: It is all about relationships.  Truth: Today I started a relationship with a young couple named Pete and Staci.  They moved here from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  You know why they came? They saw the signs that I was too proud to put out the first 8 months of planting. 

Myth: It isn't about Sunday morning. Truth: It's not if you don't hold a gathering on Sunday morning. 

Myth: It is not about the numbers.  Truth: If you are counting people, salvation, baptisms, Life Groups, healed marriages, etc... IT IS ABOUT THE NUMBERS!  If you are counting how many cats your church members own, it's not about the numbers. 

Myth: Church Planting can be time consuming.  Truth: Church Planting can idolatry. 

Myth: If you have plenty of money, you'll be fine.  Truth: I've never had plenty of money so I have no idea... 

Myth: If you plant a church without the support of your wife, you'll fail.  Truth: If you plant a church without the support of your wife, you'll get divorced and then fail. 

Myth: You will be tempted and tested when you plant a church.  Truth: You've not seen tempting or testing until you plant a church! The devil would rather kill a baby than a grown man!  He will attack you and your church with all the fury of hell.  He hates new, creating, and birth.  It is the opposite of status quo, destroying, and death. 

Myth: It is just a season. Work hard and your wife and kids will be okay.  Truth: If you ever put God's bride above your bride, God's family above your family, your bride and your family will resent you.  If they resent you long enough, they will despise you. 

Myth: You need good worship, good preaching and good kids programs on Sundays if people are going to come.  Truth: If they don't have a place to serve (ministry) and people to serve with (community) they might come, but they won't stay. 

There are plenty of others that I will share later...