Archive for July, 2010
Our family is really digging some music we’ve found recently — great worship music for kids. These have been fun both in the car and in family worship:
2. The Rizers – This is a worship album of Scripture memory songs produced by Mars Hill Church. You can download a few of the songs for free through NoiseTrade or you can buy the full album on iTunes. You can also see an interview about the project below:
In a new church like Second Mile, we’ve definitely had our share of Christians who join with our ministry as they are coming out of an existing church. Whenever possible, I have tried to encourage these people to leave well. Some have left for good reasons, some for less good reasons.
Additionally, we’ve had a number of people decide to leave Second Mile for a variety of reasons. In reality, many of us will eventually move on to another church or city. Life is just too fluid for most people to expect everyone to stay in one place for their whole life.
Few people, however, really think through the implications of their leaving their church — often resulting in pretty flimsy reasons they leave. Into this predicament, Jason Helopoulos has written a very helpful post on reasons to leave a church.
He gives four good reasons to leave, three possible reasons to leave, and eight insufficient reasons to leave.
What do you think? What parts do you agree or disagree with?
One of the most exciting, but difficult aspects of leading a growing new church is keeping the momentum of our mission going at full throttle. It’s a rare church that keeps momentum and energy going at a strong, healthy pace. In his article, “A hole in the fuel tank?” Marcus Honeysett gives ten reasons why churches stall.
Tim Chester summarizes the article like this:
1. The church forgets who we are and what we are for … When we forget that we are the community of disciples for declaring God’s greatness and making disciples, mission quickly becomes just one among many activities rather than the defining vision of who we are as a community.
2. The majority of believers are no longer thrilled with the Lord and what he is doing in their lives. When questions like ‘What is God doing with you at the moment?’ cease to be common currency, it is a sure sign of creeping spiritual mediocrity.
3. … In my view, the single biggest cause of stalled churches…is the belief that material comfort can be normative for Christians. It is the opposite of radical commitment to Christ.
4. When [Christians] see church as one among many leisure activities, usually low down the priority list. They are unlikely to see the Christian community as God’s great hope for the world and unlikely to put commitment above self-interest.
5. … Where people take no personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth a stalled church becomes more likely.
6. … When preaching, teaching and Bible study become ends in themselves rather than means to an end, something is badly wrong.
7. A church becomes afraid to ask radical questions … The danger is that people start to equate serving the church with living out the gospel. Few churches regularly evaluate every aspect of church life against their core vision.
8. Confusing Christian activities with discipleship …
9. Not understanding how to release and encourage everyone in the church to use their spiritual gifts for the building up of the church … There are two types of DNA in churches. One type of church says ‘we exist to have our personal spiritual needs met’, the other ‘we exist to impact our locality and the world with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ’. The first type is a stalled church.
10. … No church was stalled at the point that it was founded. At the beginning all churches were adventures in faith and daring risk for God. No one actively decided for comfort over risk, but at some point the mindset shifted from uncomfortable faith and daring passion for the Lord to comfortable mediocrity … The mantra of the maintenance mindset is ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. But just like buying shoes for growing children, if structures don’t take account of future growth then fellowships end up stunted and deformed.
Which of these have you seen in yourself? Which of these concern you as you think about Second Mile?
Well, a few weeks ago I asked for input related to what I should preach on. Based on much of that input, as well as some other ideas I’ve had, we are now giving you the opportunity to decide the sermon at Second Mile for Sunday, August 15th. On that day, I will take the most popular of the five possible questions and preach a sermon answering that question. Here are the questions:
- Why do we sing so much in church and what’s the point of it?
- How can a good God allow so much suffering in the world?
- How can I honor God with my finances?
- What are some practical ways that I can help people in crisis?
- How can I know for sure that I am saved?
Take a minute and vote for the question you want answered. I think you can vote multiple times, but I’m not sure.
Voting is anonymous and will close on Monday, August 9th at 11:59pm.
Thanks for your help!
Michael Hyatt has some good ideas about how to develop new habits:
- Envision the future.
- Track your progress.
- Develop a ritual.
- Establish accountability.
- Schedule check-ups.
Read the whole thing here.
What have you done to develop new habits? What has worked?
In his excellent must-read book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer makes the following statement:
The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.
Knowing God is what our Living in 4G series is all about. We’ve had a great time exploring God’s power and majesty over the last few weeks as we’ve looked at the reality that God is Great and God is Glorious.
Be sure to join us this Sunday as we continue this powerful series and–if you have a good friend or family member that needs to get to know God–be sure to invite them!
The pastors of the Acts29 Network are grieving this week as we’ve learned of the death of one of our fellow pastors in Pakistan. For the last few weeks, we had been receiving updates that this pastor and his brother had been arrested for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Indications are that these men were wrongly accused as a form of persecution in the almost totally Muslim area.
Here are a few things on my mind as I consider this series of events:
- Persecution is still a serious reality in the world. I tend to forget that many people around the world continue to suffer imprisonment and death for the sake of Jesus. These brothers and sisters desperately need prayer (for specific opportunities for prayer, visit Voice of the Martyrs).
- My problems are small. The challenges I face and the troubles that seem like a big deal to me are quite small in comparison to true persecution. This is a helpful perspective to remember.
- God has a specific plan for martyrs to give him glory. I keep meditating on Revelation 6:10-11 – ‘They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.’ God has a plan and it will not be done until the number of martyrs is complete. Then he will avenge their blood. Look out.
- What an honor it is to die for Jesus! True martyrs are not those who are looking for death (i.e. suicide bombers). True martyrs are those who are faithfully serving Jesus and are killed as a result. The apostles counted it a joy to be worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name. How much more would it be an eternal honor to die for him?!
- Jesus’ Church will flourish. The old saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” and history has proven this to be so. When persecution is strong, Jesus is shown to be more valuable than life itself. When this happens, people see his glory and live for him. Jesus builds his church and hell’s gates won’t prevail against it.
In conclusion, let me recommend John Piper’s powerful message, “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.” It’s worth your time. Pray for Rashid’s family. Pray for God to turn this death for good. And pray that the fame of Jesus would spread.