The Dreams that Drive Revolution Church

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old yesterday. Over the last week on the blog, I shared some of the things that drove us to start Revolution and drive us to this day. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. Help people become who they were created to be.
  2. Helping people take their next step with Jesus.
  3. Get the Men, Win the War.
  4. Be simple.
  5. Unleash leaders & plant churches.

Unleash Leaders & Plant Churches

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. On Wednesday, we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Yesterday we looked at how to be simple. To wrap up the 5 things that drive Revolution, we’ll look at our dream of unleashing leaders. Another way of thinking about this drive is to plant churches that plant more churches.

From day one of Revolution Church, we have dreamed of raising up an army of leaders that are unleashed to be on mission, develop other leaders where they work, live and play and out of those leaders, plant churches.

The reason is simple: more evangelism happens in church plants than established church. Also, in Tucson, because of our terrible highway system, people largely stay in their area of the city. To reach a city and see it changed, you have to plant churches.

The way we’ve stated this has been: We want everyone in Tucson to live within 10 minutes of a church we planted. 

What does that look like?

It looks like Revolution Churches all over Tucson. Some that have video preaching, some that have live preaching. But all of them carrying the Revolution DNA (helping people live the life God created them to live, taking their next step, being simple, calling men and women to be who God created them to be). This means that all Revolution Churches will do MC’s, preach the same sermon each week, use the same study materials, the same DNA. Our hope is that we become a large extended family, a movement.

Why do it like this?

Church planting is expensive and not predictable. Most church plants fail in the first year because they don’t get traction, run out of finances or don’t have leaders. By planting a Revolution Church, a name that is known in Tucson, there is some weight behind that. It also enables a church in a wealthier part of the city to help a church in a poorer part of the city have the same level of ministry and leadership. It helps people feel part of a larger movement. We have said from day one, our church planting and what each one looks like will depend on the leaders we have at the time at that plant. I think many leaders are unwise when they say, “We will only do it this way.” That’s poor stewardship.

Also, as I’ve talked with pastors who have planted churches, the wise stewardship that comes through sharing finances, missional community materials, devotional questions, kid and student curriculums is wise stewardship. If you have 10 churches, why create 10 different things, 10 different sermons? That’s a poor use of time and resources in my opinion.

As a church, we help to plant autonomous churches in Tucson and other parts of the country (in fact, as we plant we are supporting a church plant that is in the same area of the city that we are hoping to plant in because we believe Tucson needs more gospel-centered church), but our primary means of church planting efforts will go into planting Revolution Churches around Tucson.

One of the things I’m most excited about are the steps we are taking for this to happen. After years of praying and dreaming, we are seeing how God is moving and we are praying that we will plant Revolution Church | Midtown in January 2015.

Be Simple

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. Yesterday we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Today I want to talk about something I mentioned yesterday but is critical to who we are as a church and I believe, why we are effective. And that is be simple. 

One of my first jobs was on staff as a student pastor at a church in Wisconsin. It was a church of 1500 people and I remember sitting in a meeting soon after I took the job and the Executive Pastor with a huge smile on his face said, “A family could be at our church 7 nights a week.” No one said anything. Finally I asked, “Is that good?” You would have thought I just questioned an agreed upon theological stance. I got looks that said, “Are you crazy? How do you not see how great that is?”

I then read in a book about the difference between the home pages of google and yahoo. Did you know that each month 88 billion searches are done on google and 9.4 billion are done on Yahoo? Think about the difference of their pages and how crowded yahoo is compared to google. One is simple, one is cluttered and busy. One helps you accomplish what you need, the other makes you guess as to what is important.

In America, there is a desire many churches have to make sure you never have to go anywhere for anything else. We have coffee shops, bookstores, sports leagues for kids, sports leagues for adults, groups for every need imaginable. Now, I’m not saying any of these things are bad or wrong. What I am saying is that by having as many ministries and programs as the average church has, we make sure none of our people have time to hang out with people who don’t know Jesus. If you are at church 3-4 nights a week, when will you spend time with your neighbor or co-worker who doesn’t know Jesus? Probably never.

To accomplish the goal of helping our people live on mission, we have intentionally chosen to be simple. To do two things as a church: A worship gathering and missional communities. Often in churches, people aren’t sure what is the most important thing. Should they join a class, a men’s group, a women’s group, a small group. We took the guessing out of it and said, we want you to do two things. And if you do these two things, we believe you will take the next steps in your relationship with Jesus.

This also helps families not overload their schedule with things so they can have family nights, date nights and family dinner together and do family devotions together. This also helps people to be on mission in their neighborhoods or workplaces. It also clarifies for our church what the win is. Everyone knows what the most important things are at Revolution because we only have two things.

Get the Men, Win the War

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. Yesterday we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. Today I want to talk about the value of Get the men, win the war.

Every study says the same thing: the person least likely to attend church in America is a 20-40 year old man. Because of this, when we started Revolution we sought out to reach that guy.

This all gets down to target. Every church, regardless of size, location, history, how long they’ve been in existence has a target. Every church wants to reach everyone, but every church can’t reach everyone.

Let me give you an example: depending on the time of your service, the music you play, the style of preaching, the dress of those who attend, if you do sunday school or small groups, if you have a student ministry. All of these factors will determine who will attend your church. Many churches are not intentional about these things, they just do them and their target becomes who is already there. If you want to know who your target is at your church, simply look around and see who is there, that’s your target.

We decided from the beginning, we would choose our target, understand them, their questions, their needs, what keeps them from following Jesus, how to best help them follow Jesus.

Make no mistake. Revolution Church wants to reach as many people as possible. We love 60 year old men, 50 year old women and 30 year old women and want them all to find Jesus, but everything we do has to answer this question: will that reach a 20-40 year old man?

This isn’t just a question about target. Our culture has no idea what it means to be a man or a woman. In fact, just this week there was a story about a class offered at the University of Arizona on fatherhood that has a waiting list. Our culture wants to know and they will go anywhere to find answers.

Here are some ways you see this at Revolution:

  • Our name is Revolution. We intentional chose our name to be a name men would be intrigued by. I can’t tell you the number of men who have said, “I was looking online for a church and your name made me stop and I knew I had to check it out.” Just the other day a guy told me, “I wasn’t excited when my wife said we were going to church, but when she told me the name was Revolution I thought, it can’t be that bad with a name like that.” Our name not only describes what we believe Jesus started, what we are called to in our culture, but one that men don’t see as a roadblock.
  • We create family devotional questions. Men are called to lead their families and pastor them well. Most churches heap this on men with a side of guilt and shame. Why do men feel this way? They don’t know how to do it. Many have never seen anyone do family devotions, let alone come up with what to do during them. So, we create simple guides for men to use with their wives and kids. Instead of saying, “You should do this and good luck.” We create them and say, “You should do this and this will help you accomplish it.” Make no mistake, if men think they will fail at something, they usually won’t try it.
  • We challenge men to be who they are called to be. This goes with the last one, we unashamedly challenge men and women to be who God created them to be. We believe Scripture calls men to lovingly lead their homes, to serve and pastor their wives and kids. To have integrity in dating relationships. That women were created by God to help their husband and support him and respect him. I preach about this at least once a year. Ironically, this is the #1 reason people have started attending Revolution. Why? Our culture wants to know what it means to be a man and a woman and the media, TV shows, movies, books and magazines give empty answers. It usually boils down to sex, but Scripture gives such a fuller picture. Teaching men and women how to communicate, how to have friendships with integrity, how pursue your wife, how to date with integrity, how to fight well, how to achieve oneness in marriage (outside of sex). To get an idea of how we talk about this topic at Revolution, listen to the last sermon I gave on the topic
  • We are simple. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow, but we do 2 things at Revolution: Sunday morning and Missional Communities.
  • Our missional communities have end dates. Men like end dates. Our culture does as well. School ends and has its cycle of life. Men don’t like to enter a group setting that is meeting until Jesus returns. Now, my missional community friends will say, “We are family and family never takes a break.” That isn’t true. Families take vacations, parents go on getaways. Extended families don’t see each other every day or every week. So, it is possible to be family in an MC without meeting officially every week as an MC. We used to meet forever and men were scared. You could say, “Well that is an idol that needs some gospel truth.” That may be true, it may also just be how men are wired. So, we moved to having end dates. Men are willing to try something with an end date, something that has a way out that isn’t awkward if they don’t like it. It is easier for us to say to a man, “give this MC a try, it lasts until _________.”
  • We don’t have a women’s ministry (or a men’s ministry). I’ve blogged about this a lot and we get this question from women who come from a churched background. Churches that have women’s ministries often communicate to men, “You aren’t needed.” Think about it like this: a woman goes to her women’s bible study. She gets her relational fill, she is doing her Beth Moore bible study each day and growing. What is her husband doing? In the average church, nothing. He isn’t needed. She is getting all that she needs. As a couple, she is now growing faster than he is and they are growing apart spiritually. This happens more often than pastors want to admit. If you don’t believe me, ask most men why they aren’t leading their families and they will either say: I’m not needed or I don’t know how. Then, many pastors aren’t willing then to challenge men to step up and the cycle continues. We believe, the family should be split up as little as possible in the church. Now, when a woman in an MC says, “I’d like to have more.” We encourage them join an DNA group (accountability) or go to MOPS or a bible study at another church.
  • We preach through books of the Bible. Many men don’t know where things are in the Bible and they don’t know how to read it. By preaching through books of the Bible, men get confidence in the Bible and their ability to understand it. They begin to learn where Jonah and John are in the Bible. They begin to see how things fit together. When you jump around and preach from 10 verses from 10 different books of the Bible, you communicate to your church, “You can’t do what I do.” When you go through a book of the Bible and show your church how it unfolds, they start to think, “I could pick that out if I read my bible on my own.” Men also like to see a larger story and how things fit together. They also like preaching on hard topics. When you preach through books of the Bible, you can’t skip sections, you have to preach every page.

Practically for Revolution, this means we are always asking the question, “Will this help us reach 20-40 year old men?” We’ve learned if you answer that question, women of all ages like what you do. As every church has learned (because 60-70% of church attendees are women) men do not like everything that women do.

Take Your Next Step

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

Yesterday we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. Today, going hand in hand with that is helping people take their next step with Jesus. 

Our culture loves the idea of goals and resolutions. Everyone makes them every year in January. We talk about the future, what things will be like, what we will accomplish, how next week, next month and next year will be better. The sad thing about all of this is that very few people actually stick with their goals and resolutions or see any change because of them.

One of the ways I evaluate the effectiveness of my sermon or the sermons of those who preach is the amount of next steps that are taken. Each week when I am preparing a sermon one of the most important question I need to answer is, “Because of this truth in Scripture, what do I want them to do, what is this calling us to?” Those are my next steps.

At the end of my sermon before communion, I ask everyone to pull out their connection card and walk them through the next steps. Each week we point out taking the step of following Jesus or getting baptized and then the specific next steps for that week based on the sermon. It doesn’t end there though. Each person who fills out a connection card with their next steps gets an email from me with some ideas on how to accomplish those next steps. For example, if it is memorizing a verse, I give them ideas on scripture memorization. If it is forgiving someone, I’ll share a story of how I applied that truth in my life. Then, our staff and elders pray over those next steps that week as they move forward. We also encourage our MC’s to talk through the next steps people take each week to give it some accountability that is personal.

For us, it is a failure if we have no next steps. For this reason, preaching and discipleship is not just about dispensing information. Many pastors see this as the goal of preaching. The goal of preaching is transformation. If transformation is happening, lives are changing, which means, people are taking steps to Jesus. Churches and pastors need to help their people define what those steps are, give them resources for them and hold them accountable.

Become Who You Were Called to Be

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

The first is to help people become who they were called to be. 

This might sound simplistic and something every church sets out to do, but it s the heartbeat of my preaching and our church. Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to give life, overflowing and abundant life. All throughout the New Testament, we see places where we are told that God wants us to be holy, set apart, to live the life we were created to live. Not a shell of that life where we indulge our idols or chase empty ambitions, but life.

This means every week, we want to challenge people in our sermons to confront the idols of the heart and show people the truth of the gospel. We want our MC’s to weekly confront each other in areas where they aren’t believing the gospel, but instead are living out of lies. When people are seeking to control things, make decisions to gain approval or power, our hope is that people will challenge each other lovingly with the truth of the gospel and remind each other to be who they were created to be.

This means, we don’t believe anyone is accidental. God doesn’t need us to be someone else, live out someone else’s gifts, vision or dreams. He doesn’t need us to try to live up to someone else’s standard. He needs us to be us. He created us to be us.

For Revolution, this is the gospel piece. This is where we challenge those who are not yet Christians to take that step and begin following Jesus. For those who are Christians, this is where we challenge them in sin patterns and to be holy as Christ is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

For anyone to become who they were created to be, a few things must happen:

  • You have to talk about creation. You have to talk about how God created the world to be. People must see how they and those around them were created in the image of God and what that entails.
  • You have to talk about the brokenness in our lives and in our world because of the fall. You have to talk about the reality of sin and hit it head on.
  • You have to talk about the resurrection. The cross matters greatly, but I get fearful when I hear pastors talk about the cross and then never mention the resurrection. As Paul tells us, talk about both (1 Corinthians 15:14).
  • You have to talk about the kingdom and the reign of Jesus and what it means to live forever in the kingdom of God, the way God meant the world to be. You have to give your people a vision of what God intends and why that matters. Too often, pastors do not help people imagine a better future because of the gospel.

Bob Franquiz sums this up well in his book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic:

Great preaching aims for repentance in each message. This is the goal of every message we teach. Repentance means to change your mind, and we must all changes minds about false beliefs we’ve had, false teachings we’ve held, false ideas we’ve hung on to, and false securities on which we’ve depended. The essence of the gospel is embracing Christ and walking away from idols. The question to ask is, “What is the false god, false belief, false idea, or false teaching we’ve held on to, and how does the gospel require us to respond?” When you preach for a decision with unbelievers, the answer is obvious: you want people to come to Christ. When you teach this to believers, it’s a bit more difficult, but something always tries to draw us away from the gospel. Our goal is to keep believers and unbelievers face-to-face with the gospel.

11 Years Ago Today

11 years ago today, I asked Katie to marry me at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Hard to believe it has been that long. It has flown by.

We went to a concert and had a picnic near Navy Pier at Grant Park. I made Caesar salads because they were easy and I wasn’t a great cook then.

Afterward, we walked around Navy Pier, looking at the boats in the water as the sun set. To carry the ring, I brought my camera bag and pretended to take pictures of Chicago. I told her my mom wanted pictures of Chicago. Which was kind of true, but I’m not even sure what I took a picture of.

We finally sat down on a bench on the pier and she said, “Do you know what would make this moment perfect? If you had a ring.”

I panicked. I intended to ask her, but the ring was in the camera bag next to her on the bench and I wasn’t near it. So, I did what all smart guys do at that moment, I told her to close her eyes.

I got the ring out and got down on a knee and said, “Katie.” At this point, she thought I was mocking her with the camera flash or something, and she took a swing at me and almost knocked the ring into lake Michigan. My one foot was on the edge of the water.

I looked at her and I asked her to marry me. And the rest as they say, “Is history.”