Why Our Mission Matters

Huntington

I’ve never considered this region to be some sort of paradise by any means, but I’ve also never been miserable here. I’ve enjoyed raising my family in this community, surrounded by wonderful people.

I saw online today an article naming my home #2 in a list of the top 10 most miserable cities in the United States. Who is named 1st? Well, that would be our state capitol, which happens to be only 50 miles away.

If you live here and this doesn’t upset you, you need to wake up. I’m fired up about this.

This isn’t just about stress. This isn’t just about obesity. This isn’t just about jobs. This is about Jesus and the life HE called us to live. See John 10:10 and Ephesians 3:20. This is about an oppressed region that God desires to break free.

This is why OUR MISSION MATTERS! This is why our mission is dangerous! Lives are at stake. It’s time to get serious, even more serious than we’ve been. This is why we are here. We are here to ESTABLISH people in a relationship with Jesus, to BUILD their life upon the Word of God and EMPOWER them to live a life of victory. It’s apparent that this is not happening to the majority of this city/region.

This is not some simple puny little mission. God’s plan is not meager, weak, pathetic, or small. He redeemed us for a purpose and it is glorious! It’s time to love enough to speak up. To speak the truth. It’s time to settle for nothing less than a sovereign move of God, with the people of God, the church, living for Jesus and giving their lives to help everyone else do the same.

My faith says this: That none will be satisfied until everyone in Huntington surrenders to God’s LOVE and follows Jesus. That our purpose is consuming. As long as we draw breath we’ll serve God – and God is calling every man, woman and child in this region to follow Jesus.

I am not afraid nor intimidated by the enormity of the challenge. It’s just another giant God is setting up for us to take down.

Prepare yourself. Get ready. This has to change. This can change. This will change.

 

 

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Moving Forward

I understand that along with change (positive or negative), confusion can sometimes creep in. That’s why I want to take some time and break down the vision that my dad shared on Sunday morning and hopefully provide you with a little “behind the scenes” perspective.

First of all, let me say that he did such a tremendous job at presenting not only the forward thinking vision for this church, but also at opening up his heart. He’s typically not a very transparent person (unless you see the eyebrow go up, then you know it’s on like Donkey Kong). For him to be so transparent Sunday morning shows both his deep-rooted passion and his whatever-it-takes willingness to see this Tri-State region won for Christ.

He presented the church with four challenges to embrace the future changes taking place at New Life.

1. Constantly challenge yourself to be who God called you to be. Drop any false masquerades and let’s be as genuine as possible. God didn’t give us faith so we could have new cars. He gave us faith so we can use it to see people who don’t know Christ find forgiveness, hope and salvation at New Life Church.

2. Be honest in evaluating yourself. Check what is motivating you. Most of the resistance we have towards change comes from a place of personal preference or emotional attachment rather than a Christ centered mission focus.

3. Keep the vision in front of you, not behind you. We can’t live in the past. It’s over. There is a brand new generation of the un-churched right in front of us, in our schools, at our jobs, in our neighborhoods and we won’t reach them using old methods.

4. Press in, be positive and discover how you can make “OUR” vision a reality! This vision isn’t about one person, or one group. One of my favorite moments Sunday morning was when dad shared “This isn’t the older church group or the younger church group, we are all New Life Church.” There is a place for every single person at New Life Church to serve, give and go absolutely buck wild at reaching people for Jesus!

So here’s the breakdown of what Pastor discussed, and I’ll add some additional thoughts after each point.

1. We have changed the layout of our stage. We removed the cross, centered the band, added a new logo in the center and have modified our lighting. A few people were upset at removing the cross. I understand that the cross has very significant meaning. However, there were a couple reasons why we removed the cross.

  • First, once Pastor gave the word to center the band, the cross no longer physically fit. It was too large. We reviewed over a dozen new designs, and to be honest, all of them stunk. We were running out of time and the idea of using the “Life” portion of our logo was presented. We created a mock image of what it would look like and Pastor loved it. The staff loved it. It was a go.
  • Second, although the cross has significant meaning symbolically, Pastor wants our focus emphasized more on the PERSON who sacrificed everything on the cross. He said Sunday morning; “there aren’t any crosses in Heaven.”
  • Third, we love the energy created by spreading the choir across the stage to the whole congregation during worship. We also love the presentation. Our stage is wide, but not very deep and this new presentation is less cluttered and completely balanced. It fits.

2. Kids Ministry Remodel Phase 1. On Saturday, October 8 we begin our demo phase of the new kids ministry space at New Life. That morning we are providing breakfast for everyone who would like to volunteer and help us tear stuff down. Phase one includes all aspects of moving the kids ministry together into the new space on the main level. This phase includes restructuring the heating and AC, demolition of unnecessary walls, electrical wiring, new room construction, flooring, painting and set-up. We estimate that this phase will take 4-6 months to complete.

3. We are introducing Small Groups that we are calling “Life Groups.” Our mission is very clear, to Love God and Love People. A Life Group will basically be a group of 8-12 people who want to grow spiritually and connect with others who are going in the same direction. Life Groups will provide a place to develop rich relationships with people, to get to know them and be known. It’s also a place to learn more about God and about how to deepen your relationship with Him. Life Groups will meet a minimum of once per month and will be based on interests, topics, age groups and more! We plan on announcing a Life Groups potential leaders meeting in the next week.

4. One BIG unified service on Sunday morning. That’s right. Beginning in October we will no longer have a Sunday pm church service. Here are the main reasons behind this decision:

  • First, the culture of this generation isn’t like the previous generation. Life is more complicated and honestly, busier. Instead of fighting the current culture, we have decided to teach our church how to live for Jesus and be a witness right in the heart of it.
  • Second, we love the idea of bringing our whole church together on Sunday morning to hear the message God has given our Pastor or speaker. Unity is a priority in our church. We want the church to take this journey together and by uniting the service on Sunday, we can accomplish that.
  • Third, this brings instant relief to our overworked volunteer core. We have some amazing volunteers at New Life Church. They are all in, faithful and dedicated. I would match our volunteers up against any other church in the nation. Pastor shared that his heart is for people to serve long term, not to serve so much so soon that they go through severe burnout and quit. Our desire is for our volunteers to use their gifts over the next 5-10-20 years or even longer at New Life Church. For that to happen, we couldn’t keep using the same core of volunteers to serve every service. This allows us to recruit, train and provide depth and health in every single ministry.
  • Fourth, this allows our new “Life Groups” time to grow and flourish without adding more demand to peoples schedule. We couldn’t introduce a new ministry to the church and expect already busy people to add one more thing to their packed full weekly list. By uniting the Sunday service, we also allow families to share time together, get together with their small groups and not feel so rushed on Sundays.
  • Fifth, as we grow more, services will be added but only by necessity, not convenience. New Life Church is going to grow. It’s Gods plan. It’s our mission. As New Life grows, the demand will also grow for additional services in order to accommodate the new people showing up on Sunday. Pastor shared that when we have fully maximized the seating and kids capacity on Sunday at 10:30a, we will introduce a new two morning service schedule (times to be determined later).
  • Sixth, this allows us to introduce some creative new ways to present the Gospel and drive home the message that God has given our Pastor or our speaker. We’ll be using more video, music, and even drama to illustrate the message, introduce announcements or to just have some fun during the Sunday morning service. New Life Church is going to be the highlight of your entire week!

This is by far the LONGEST Blog post I’ve ever written. If you made it to the end, then I hope that you’ll take some time and sincerely seek how you can be used by God to reach people who don’t know Him and build the Kingdom of God through New Life Church. This isn’t just our Pastors vision, this is OUR vision. This is a big deal and to say that the leaders are FIRED UP about what God is doing at New Life would be an understatement.

Each one of us, let’s have a “Heart for the House,” and together win this Tri-State for Jesus!

Creative Planning

I can’t say enough how excited I am about what’s coming soon for our Kids and Youth ministries! We spent the last two days working with some very creative people planning, designing, dreaming and creating the new environments that Pastor shared with everyone at the beginning of the year. All I can say is WOW! Fun doesn’t begin to describe what these new spaces will look like. Of course we are still in the early planning stages of these projects, but already the direction we are headed in is pretty spectacular!

What excites me most of all isn’t just the definite upgrades that these environments will receive, but that we are going to see hundreds of new students come to Christ, invite their friends and families to also experience what God is doing! Wow! This is really going to launch a new era of growth at New Life Church!

If this gets you excited, here’s what you can do right now to support:

  • Continue praying for wisdom for all leaders involved in the decision making process!
  • Begin thanking God right now for providing all of the resources and finances!
  • Be available to use your skills, gifts, and labor to help accomplish this great vision!

This has me fired up! I can’t think of a better place to invest than in the spiritual life of our kids and teenagers!

Get ready New Life!

2011

You have to start somewhere. At least that’s what Zechariah 4:10 says. God smiles when He sees you begin to do His work. I think I’m onto God, or at least I have sort of figured out exactly why He’s smiling even though I’m struggling to get any kind of momentum. See, God is able to see not only the current picture of what is, but He can also see the potential of what is coming, and result of what will be. He’s smiling because now that you’ve began, He can build. He can. You’ve given Him something to work with.

I’ve heard more people say in the past few days that their 2011 resolution is to have no resolutions. I get it. I really do. Instead of setting some semi-generic goal to lose, gain, conquer, drop, add, marry, stop, earn _______ , only to blow it about a week/month later, you win by default by not setting a goal to begin with. Um, ok.

OR.

You can start 2011 by seeking God and simply asking God, “what would you have me to do in 2011?” Remember, God always honors faith. It also makes Him smile. It’s just that before you step out, make sure it’s something He has told you to do. That’s kind of important.

Here are two simple goals I’ve set for myself in 2011.

1. Read the Bible every day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set a goal to read the Bible in a year, only to fall behind about 300 chapters in about a week. Uh, no thanks. This year, I’m keeping it simple. I want God to speak to me through His Word. Just a verse. Just a line. I want to be in a position to grow and hear Him.

2. Read one book a month. I’m notorious for picking up a book, reading about 4 chapters and setting it down. I find another book and repeat the process. At one time I may be reading 8 different books simultaneously but fail to finish any of them. READ FAIL. This year I’m keeping it simple. One book a month. Right now I’m reading “Church Planter” by Darrin Patrick.

I’m reminded that it’s not always the big changes that make the most difference. It’s the little changes, the small habits that you develop that make us who we are. You could be one small decision from living a completely different better life!

Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started, no matter how small it seems.