Get the Men, Win the War

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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.

What I Learned from Preaching Through 2 Timothy

I wrapped up preaching through 2 Timothy this past weekend. If you missed any of the weeks, you can get all the resources and sermons here.

The context of 2 Timothy is that it is a letter written from the apostle Paul to Timothy, a young leader/church planter he has raised up and mentored. Paul is on death row and this letter is essentially a last will and testament of what he wants Timothy to know. It is like having an older follower of Jesus, in his 70’s or 80’s sitting across the table from a 20-something and say, “This is what I need you to know about being follower of Jesus, about being a leader.”

I have spent several months reading and studying this short, but powerful letter.

A few things jumped out to me:

  • Don’t be afraid. When it comes fear, whether that is failure, death or being alone, we shouldn’t have it. It doesn’t come from God. Paul says that God has given us a spirit of power, not fear. Fear plagues so many of us, it keeps us from moving forward, taking chances, having faith and also freedom. Many of us carry things around that we want to be free of, but we are afraid of what that will mean, so we continue to carry them. We don’t take risks, we don’t pray big prayers because we are afraid that it won’t happen or we’ll fail. That is not from God.
  • Have focus. This is one of the biggest things I took out of this book. Many of don’t know how to make decisions, figure out the will of God or become paralyzed in life because we lack certainty of the prize. Athletes, soldiers and farmers (and ultimate fighters) don’t lack certainty on the prize. The prize is the crown of righteousness, finishing well, standing before God with no regrets. Focus on that, push for that and then see clarity seems to come into your life. Paul lived his life and went to his death with those goals in mind and he had clarity, passion, and no fear.
  • Know scripture. The verse that is quoted to understand the doctrine of the Bible is 2 Timothy 3:16, which is a great verse and lays out the purpose of the Bible. But, verse 17 explains why so many Christians do not see God move powerfully and why God does not use churches or answer prayers the way we’d like. We aren’t ready. Verse 17 says to know your Scripture so that you are ready and equipped for every good work. Chapter 4 lays out the good work, preach the gospel, in season and out of season, always ready to fight for the gospel and move it forward.
  • Finish. People rarely finish anything in our culture. Projects are left undone, careers are left, marriages are thrown away, goals, dreams. It seems that if you finish anything in your life, you should get an award because it rarely happens. So much so, that when you finish a renovation project in your house, you have all your friends over, not just to see the finished project but to show them you finished. Paul tells Timothy, the goal is to finish and to finish well. Don’t quit, don’t give up, finish. Fight all the way to the end.

Saturday @ Revolution: Fighting the Sin in Your Life

The summer at Revolution has been unbelievable. God has done some incredible things since we’ve moved into our new space. We have seen so many first and second time guests, people taking huge steps in their spiritual journey, making changes in their lives, getting baptized and people starting to follow Jesus.

The last 3 weeks as we have been going through 2 Timothy in our Ultimate Fighter series, God has been challenging our church to step up and fight for the gospel. We’ve looked at how to fight for courage, fight with focus and fighting for righteousness. This week, I’ll continue our series by looking at how to fight the sin in our life by looking at 2 Timothy 3:1 – 9.

While many of us think we are doing okay and almost all of us wouldn’t describe ourselves as broken or sinful. All of us walk around with secrets. Whether they are sins done to us, addictions that we don’t want anyone to know about. All of us have something in our life that we long to be free from, and yet, most of us spin our wheels and never experience that freedom.

It always seems to be just out of our reach.

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul lays out how to fight your sin, how to fight your flesh and experience freedom. While it is difficult, painful and an often hard journey, it is not impossible.

Imagine what life would be like to be free of that thing, that secret you have carried around, that thing that you feel keeps you from experiencing God in your life.

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and don’t forget to bring a friend with you)! To use an e-vite, just go here. And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

Also, you can download the study guide to this series, complete with background information on 2 Timothy and daily questions for your personal time with God, as a couple or as a family. To download the study guide, go here. And, if you haven’t already, sign up for a small group. You can sign up at church this Saturday, or, if you don’t want to wait, you can sign up on the city (our online community). If you have any questions about joining the city, just e-mail Christe LePeau.

See you Saturday.

Saturday @ Revolution: Fight with Focus

Last week, we kicked off our brand new series Ultimate Fighter with a bang. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

This week, we will be looking at 2 Timothy 2:1 – 13 and looking at this idea of focus. Many of us lack focus in life, work and play. We roam through life with no real sense of purpose and calling and then wonder why life seems empty and uneventful. Paul gives us 4 images of what following Jesus is supposed to be like and the focus and passion we are to exhibit as we stay on mission with him and live a life worth living.

In this letter to Timothy, after laying out the challenge of having courage, Paul now challenges Timothy and us to take that courage and channel that into focus and passion.

If you have ever wondered, “What is my purpose? How do I have focus? What can I give my life to that is worth my life?” Then you don’t want to miss this week at Revolution. These questions are the key to unlocking God’s plan for our lives.

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and don’t forget to bring a friend with you)! To use an e-vite, just go here. And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

Also, you can download the study guide to this series, complete with background information on 2 Timothy and daily questions for your personal time with God, as a couple or as a family. To download the study guide, go here.

See you Saturday.

Top Posts of August ’08

In case you missed them, here are the posts that generated the most traffic this month:

  1. My Notes from the Leadership Summit
  2. Recent Pics of the Kids
  3. Why I Blog & Twitter (And Why Every Pastor Should as Well) 
  4. Going in the Same Direction as the Devil
  5. Why did I Get Married?
  6. Focus:  The Top 10 Things People Want & Need From You & Your Church
  7. God Does Not Waste Pain
  8. Saturday Night Mind Dump…  (8/8/09)
  9. What a Pastor Does When He Doesn’t Preach
  10. Leadership Qualities

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Love this series
  • Great night tonight
  • Got to preach on why we exist as a church
  • I could talk about that every week
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • Tonight was the longest message I’ve ever preached at Revolution
  • Just shy of an hour
  • Hopefully God will use us to the kind of church that does anything to reach our city
  • Let’s fill the chairs!
  • Shawn Pack and his band from 22nd St. Baptist Church were with us tonight to lead worship
  • They did a great job
  • Love the partnerships we are building with other churches
  • You do not want to miss next week
  • We’re talking about how to handle depression and anxiety
  • Gavin turns 2 on Monday, hard to believe he is 2 already
  • Our website I Want a New Marriage went live this week
  • Check it out
  • In case you missed my notes from the Leadership Summit this past week, you can find them all here
  • My head is still spinning
  • If you want to go next year, let me know, we want to take as many volunteers from Revolution as possible
  • Finished a great book this past week, Leadership Gold, definitely worth a read if you are a leader
  • Starting to do my homework for the Nelson Searcy Lead Pastor coaching network I’m in that starts next week, really excited about what this will do for me personally and for Revolution Church
  • Tomorrow, we have our small group mission project
  • We’re cleaning up the trash and weeds on Pantano Rd. near where we meet
  • If you want to join us, come at 8:30 am tomorrow
  • Reading a phenomenal book right now Focus: The Top 10 Things People Want and Need from You and Your Church
  • Really eye opening
  • Got to go on a date night this week without any of our kids, awesome
  • The longer we are married, the more important a weekly date night becomes
  • Came across a great talk by Darrin Patrick this called “The Kind of Leader God Uses”
  • Ava spelled her name this week, crazy that she is old enough to do that
  • I’m tired
  • So it’s bed

Summer Reading List

After tweeting about my summer reading list, I got some requests to see it. You ask, you get (in this case):

Preaching

  • Preaching the whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Graeme Goldsworthy)
  • Christ centered preaching (Bryan Chapell)
  • Eat this book (Eugene Peterson)

Spirituality

  • Freedom of simplicity (Richard Foster)
  • Margin (Richard Swenson)
  • Ancient – future time (Robert Webber)
  • The rest of God (Mark Buchanan)

Leadership

  • Execution (Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan)
  • Making room for leadership (Mary Kate Morse)
  • Visioneering (Andy Stanley)
  • Visionary leadership (Bert Nanus)
  • Focus (Al Ries)

Parenting

  • The parent adventure (Rodney & Selma Wilson)
  • Your child’s strengths (Jennifer Fox, M.Ed.)

Marriage

  • You just don’t understand Women and Men in conversation (Deborah Tannen)
  • The legacy of divorce (Judith Wallerstein)

Theology

  • How to not speak of God (Peter Rollins)
  • The myth of a Christian nation (Gregory Boyd)
  • The reason for God (Tim Keller)
  • Exclusion and embrace (Miroslav Volf)

My goal every summer is to get through half of my list, which is pretty reasonable. What isn’t listed is the novels I’ll take on vacation. That is my rule, only novels on vacation.

So readers out there, what did I miss? What book should be on my list?

What Simple Looks Like

This past Saturday was part 5 of our Becoming… series and we talked about our desire at Revolution to be a simple church. This doesn’t mean a simplicity church or a church that makes things easy, but not a complex church. Whenever this idea comes up, immediately the focus is put on what we aren’t going to do, which I think is backwards.

I laid out on Saturday that we will only do a few things at Revolution:  Weekend service, community/discipleship, serving (in and outside of the church), kids ministry and someday student ministries. You might look at that list and see some things missing and you would be correct.

The question that this came down to for us is whether or not we want to build Revolution or the kingdom of God? If our goal is to build Revolution, then we want to do as much as possible and get as many people as possible involved in the things we do, but if our goal is to build the kingdom of God, then it doesn’t necessarily matter if they come to Revolution or go somewhere else. It is a different mentality.

To read more about our journey around this topic, go here, here, here, here.

If you are kind of intrigued by this conversation check out the books Simple Church, It and Essential Church?

I planned to make this a longer post, but I ran out of steam, so just listen to my talk from Saturday.

What are your thoughts in the simple idea?