Is It Biblical for a Church to have a Target?

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Recently, I did a series of posts on why a church should have a target, why every church has a target and how to make choices to reach that target (you can read them here). After the series, I got some questions about whether or not it was biblical to have a target. After all, are we told anywhere in the bible that a church should have a target.

The answer is yes.

In the book of Acts, we see how Paul had a target of the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:17) and how Peter had a target of the Jews (Galatians 2:17). Jesus in the great commission even gave the disciples a road map of who they were to reach and the order in which to do it (Matthew 28:18 – 20).

As you look at the New Testament, you see that certain people were better suited to reach certain people. Their backgrounds, the way they talked, how they understood certain world views, enabled them to be more effective in taking the gospel to places. The courage of some allowed them to plant churches others never would.

Does this mean that Paul never shared the gospel with a Jew? Or Peter with a Gentile? No, in fact we have evidence of them doing that. It means they were focused though and knew who their primary target was.

Churches are the same. The style of preaching lends itself to reaching a certain person. The pastors who have effective ministries are largely effective because of where they are located. That isn’t an accident. Instead of fighting against this, churches need to be clear about this. And, they need to support church planters who go to places they don’t.

Let’s admit a tension here: it sounds unloving to say we are better suited to reach a certain kind of person as a church. This is a reality though. Dress, style of music, age of the people on stage, how programmed or organic a church is. All of these go into who a church is best suited to reach. A church will reach people outside of the norm, but by and large, they will reach a certain kind of person more easily. When we fight against this, our effectiveness goes down. This is one reason that church planting is so important. It enables a church to reach different kinds of people within a city.

I think that is one reason God blessed Peter and Paul’s efforts. They led from their natural gifts, didn’t fight with each other about it (at least after Acts 15, so you can see what happens when we look down on each other) and they then encouraged each other by planting more churches in a variety of places with a variety of leaders.

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How We Change the World

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Have you ever looked at your world and wondered how it could be different? Could one person really change the world? Could one person or a group of people really work together and bring about the change they long to see?

The answer is Yes.

Sunday we are wrapping up our series All InThe last 4 weeks have been incredible as we look at why Revolution Church exists, what the gospel is and what it looks like to be on mission in our everyday lives. Sunday as we close and get ready for Easter, we are looking at how we change the world from Matthew 28:18 – 20 if you want to read ahead.

Here are a couple of things happening I want you to know about:

  • Paul is teaching a new song this week called Pursuit. This song has spoken to me in a big way in the past year. Listen to it here and be ready to sing this powerful song.
  • The Stations of the Cross is on Good Friday, April 18th. This is a powerful night of considering the cross and what Jesus did in our place.
  • We are having a baptism on Easter Sunday. If you have not taken this important step and would like to, or if you have questions about it, you can go here.
  • Be inviting people for Easter as we kick off our brand new series Change and look at how Jesus changes everything about us, the stuff we want to change and the things we don’t know we need to change.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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Don’t Hide Behind “God Isn’t Moving”

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Pastors and churches often find themselves in a predicament. They want their church to grow, they want to see people start following Jesus, marriages saved, people get baptized, use their gifts, but many do not see that happen. What’s worse is when the church down the road sees these things happening, which let’s be honest, simply means they are preaching an easy gospel or at the very least, “watering down the truth.”

Recently, I heard a pastor say, “My church isn’t growing because God isn’t moving.” I heard another church say, “God just isn’t blessing like he used to.” And then they both talked about how hard our culture is towards God, etc.

I’m sorry, but these are simply excuses.

I know, the church down the road has a bigger budget, more staff members, better staff members, cooler music, they have a building, they meet in a school so they don’t have the traditional trappings, they are a church plant, they an established church so people don’t think they are playing church like a church plant.

Excuses.

What pastors and churches uses these excuses for is to push off having to deal with issues as to why a church isn’t healthy or growing.

If people aren’t getting baptized, why not? Is it unclear? If people aren’t taking that first step to follow Jesus, why not? Do you present the gospel each week?

When these thoughts creep into my mind and they do and have. We’ve had weeks at Revolution where I preached to 11 people, our offering was $84, no one responded to anything, we cancelled baptisms and went 6 months without seeing a salvation.

Here are a few questions for pastors, leaders and churches to ask when “God isn’t moving” the way they would like or think he should be:

  1. Is there any sin I or our leaders or church need to confess?
  2. When preaching a sermon, are next steps clear?
  3. Is the gospel clearly presented each week with a call to take that step?
  4. How clear is the strategy of the church? How clear is the next step for a person from sunday morning?
  5. How complex and busy is the church? The busier the harder it is to know what is important.
  6. Are you being the church God called you to be or are you trying to be the church down the road or the one from the conference you just went to?
  7. How clear and compelling is our vision?

Churches that aren’t healthy and effective often don’t have good answers to these questions. Next time, when your church hits a plateau, instead of giving up or getting jealous about the church down the road, celebrate how God is moving at that church and begin working on why God isn’t working in your heart and church the way you’d like to see him.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Bryan Loritts on Stop sharing and preach.

There’s just something in us that stiffens its back when it comes to authority, and this is a problem of biblical proportions. If you have a problem with authoritative preaching you would not have liked Jesus as a preacher.

Tiffany Cooper on What your pastor’s wife would like you to know.

I want you to know that, in some ways, being a pastor’s wife is no different than being a doctor’s wife or a teacher’s wife. There are sacrifices that must be made and challenges that accompany every job. Just like you, I love my kids, I like spending time with my husband, I feel lonely and overwhelmed sometimes, I need encouragement, I doubt myself, I try my best, I want to enjoy God and know His pleasure, I struggle, I desire relationships with other women, and I don’t always know the answers. I want you to know that I need and desire everything that you do. I want you to know that I am often leading, planning, administrating, or hosting. Most women look to me to carry the conversation, initiate a relationship, answer questions, or create solutions. I want you to know this, not so you’ll think I’m something special, but so that you’ll know that I appreciate when other women allow me to not lead. When others show interest in me or take initiative in ministry, it is refreshing to my soul.

Thom Rainer on 8 of the most significant struggles of pastors.

Many pastors struggle with expectations by church members of their spouses or children. Others struggle with finding time for their families. Many pastors’ families struggle with the “glass house” syndrome.

Kevin DeYoung on The red letter nonsense.

The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this “red letter” nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important verses in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. An evangelical understanding of inspiration does not allow us to prize instructions in the gospel more than instructions elsewhere in Scripture. If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus.

Why you should give guests a gift on their first sunday with your church.

First impressions are important as a church and this is strategic resources for you to invest. Your guests deserve it … they risked a lot to come to your church and you should reward them.

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Trusting Jesus with my Worries, Happiness and Stress

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Let’s be honest for a minute, trusting Jesus with our lives is difficult. I find it easy to trust him with my eternity because I often think, “I’ll be dead then.” But trusting him everyday, with relationships, my finances, those who have hurt me, my hang-ups and trusting him with my family and what stressed me out. That’s hard to do.

One of the things I’ve learned to do in this area has to do with how my day starts and end.

A lack of trust in Jesus often comes from a lack of gratitude and a false belief in my control of my life.

At the end of my day, when I land into bed. I spend a few minutes thanking Jesus for the day. The things he gave me, the blessings I have (kids, Katie, food, a place to live, a job I love, health and other things that come to mind). I also talk with him about the things that are stressing me out, the things that are weighing me down. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 that we are to give him our worries and stress and that he offers us life.

At the beginning of my day, before I get out of bed I spend a few minutes praying through my coming day. Meetings, activities, the things I’m worried about for the day, things for my family. I give them to Jesus. While he already is in control and I am not, this a reminder to me of this truth.

These two practices have helped me to make enormous strides in trusting Jesus to put the pieces of my life back together.

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When You Doubt God

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I’ve seen it so many times and every time it breaks my heart: someone whose life is held back because of doubt. 

If we are honest, all of us have doubts about Jesus. We struggle some days to believe that He can forgive us, redeem our sins, use our past for good or even that He really is who He says He is, that He is God.

What do you do with doubts?

For many people, they become their doubts, they allow their doubts to take over their lives and lead them to live in unbelief, completely missing the life God created for them to live.

Doubts keep us in the dark. Doubts keep us from experiencing freedom.

And truth be told, there is a way out of doubt.

This Sunday at Revolution Church I’ll be preaching from John 12:12 – 50 as we look at how to handle our doubts, how Jesus answers our doubts and helps us to live the life we were created to live. 

A life of freedom, passion, adventure and faith.

This is a huge Sunday at Revolution if you’ve ever struggled with doubt. 

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. If you want to be a great leader, you must have vision.
  2. Donald Zimmerman on How to structure your worship ministry. This makes me appreciate Paul Ingram all the more.
  3. Personal branding for introverts.
  4. Tim Challies on Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?
  5. Great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people.
  6. Garrett Kell on How to destroy your marriage before it begins.
  7. Hannah Joiner on Secrets for dads with daughters.
  8. Stop trying to date yourself. Great word for singles.
  9. Chan Kilgore on What he wished he would’ve known about leadership, parenting and satanic attacks when he started pastoring. If you are a pastor or thinking about it, this is a great series of blog posts.
  10. Will people have a chance to repent after they die?
  11. Trevin Wax on When your kids say “Dad, I know all the bible stories.”
  12. What one pastor wish he would’ve known about critics and parenting when he started pastoring.
  13. Thom Rainer on 7 tips for introverted pastors.
  14. The most important interview Rick Warren has ever done. I watched this last night and was blown away while watching it. Really a moving interview.
  15. How to not make a hiring mistake.

An Awkward Interview on a New book

Preach the Word 2013: Missional Preaching || Alex Early

bookI’m at the Preach the Word conference through Acts 29 today and as always, posting my notes to the sessions I attend.

Alex Early is the Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church Ballard. Alex’s session was on missional preaching and how to preach into the culture God has sent us to.

Pastor Alex was the planting and lead pastor of Four Corners Church in Newnan, Georgia before leaving for Mars Hill Church. Prior to church planting Alex has received his Masters in hermeneutics at the London School of Theology, as well as having received a M.Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Reformed Theological Seminary. Alex and his wife Jana have been married for eight years and have two kids.

Here are some things that jumped out from his talk:

  •  If you want your life to remain unchanged and your church to remain unmotivated or have people sing about Jesus with their hands in their pockets, ignore the bible. 
  • The nature of the Bible is that it takes over our lives.
  • Jesus is called a friend of gluttons, drunks, tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19). That’s how we should be described.
  • No one should ever have a bigger vision for the world than the men and women of God.
  • Who in the city you live in is beyond the saving grace of God?
  • The only hope you have as a missionary is to embrace the reality and reminded daily of the grace of God.
  • The gospel is for those who have been crushed by legalism.
  • The gospel is for the slut and for those who are offended that a pastor would say the word slut.
  • The gospel is for everyone, no matter where they stand or what they do. All of us need the gospel.
  • The gospel is the most inclusive message you will ever hear and so exclusive in how it saves people.
  • The Bible is written mostly by 3 murderers, so don’t say God can’t save anyone.
  • If you anchor your identity in the fact that you are the prodigal that the father has forgiven, living on mission isn’t something you have to work at, but something you work out.
  • If you want to preach effectively or understand grace, remember where you were the night before you met Jesus.
  • As a pastor, I need Jesus as bad as the people I preach to.
  • The gospel is God saves sinners.
  • The mission is very simple: make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
  • The art of hermeneutics is the art of interpretation.
  • Being a student of culture means understanding it. Understanding why people do what they do.
  • Missional preachers exegete scripture, culture, congregation, self.
  • When you preach, you must have a clear understanding of what the Scripture is and who it is about and who it is written by. Whatever the goal of Scripture is, that is the goal of preaching.
  • If the bible doesn’t provoke you or annoy, you aren’t paying attention. It came to wage war on you.
  • The author of the Bible is always present with every reader.
  • The Bible says God is already on mission and then bringing us into his fold and sending us on mission.
  • All theology is an argument against someone or something.
  • We want to make sure that we are answering questions that the culture is actually asking.
  • Too often people who love apologetics don’t lead anyone to Jesus because they’re concerned about being right.
  • As a pastor, are you provoked by the idols of your city and culture (Acts 17:16).
  • As a pastor, do you know what people love and hate about your city? Do you know who is successful, who is hurting? Do you know the goals and vision of the city?
  • Do you know why people of your city aren’t worshiping Jesus? What are the sins and idols of your city?
  • Start preaching to those people you want to see.
  • Pastors should know what the concerns of the congregation are. How do they feel about war, healthcare, the economy. Who is influencing those in your congregation? What celebrities do they look up to?
  • Elders are to be well thought of by outsiders. Do non-Christians know your elders? Do they like them?
  • Would you say what is on your Facebook status to a room full of lost people?
  • Being around lost people will cost you comfort because they don’t worship your God, they worship their god.
  • Instead of seeing a sinner, see someone who has the potential to change the world for Jesus.
  • The gospel demands you can your reputation, to give up lies to follow Jesus.
  • Being on mission will cost you time as lost people won’t call you on 9-5. Their lives fall apart after 5pm.
  • Being on mission will cost money, being where lost people are will cost money.
  • Being on mission means you’ll need the Jesus who sent you there.
  • Being on mission will never cost you more than it cost God.

Alex’s session was so good for my soul. So convicting.

Sermon Recap || Is Jesus God?

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Sunday, I continued our series in the book of John and looked at John 1:1 – 18 and sought to answer the question why we believe Jesus is God. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

The question of whether Jesus is God, if he was a man while on earth, was he God on earth has been debated since Jesus was alive. The theological term for our belief that Jesus was God in human flesh is what theologians called The Hypostatic Union which means “Jesus has two distinct natures: humanity and deity, there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures, although he has two natures, Jesus is one person.”

On Sunday, I gave 8 reasons why we as a church believe Jesus is God (you can find these 8 reasons in the great book Doctrine by Mark Driscoll):

  1. God the Father said Jesus was God (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).
  2. The Demons said Jesus was God (Mark 1:24, 34, Luke 4:33 – 34, 41).
  3. Jesus said He was God (Matthew 26:63 – 65, Mark 10:17 – 18, 14:61 – 64, John 5:18, 6:38, 8:58 – 59, 14:6).
  4. The Bible plainly says Jesus is God (Matthew 1:23, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, 3:4, 1 John 5:20, 2 Peter 3:18).
  5. Jesus is given the names of God (Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62 – 64, Luke 21:27, 22:69, John 5:17 – 29, Acts 1:9 – 11, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7).
  6. Jesus possessed the attributes of God (Psalm 139:7 – 12, Matthew 11:27, 28:18, 20, John 1:1, 2:25, 4:18, 16:30, 17:5, 1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17).
  7. Jesus did the works of God (Matthew 12:24, 27:42, Luke 5:20 – 21, John 10:36 – 39, 11:47, 20:30 – 31).
  8. People worshiped Jesus as God (Deut. 6:13, 10:20, Matthew 4:10, 15:25, John 5:23, Acts 7:59 – 60, 10:25 – 26).

You definitely want to make plans to be at Revolution Church on Sunday as we continue in John and look at John 1:19 – 34 and how Jesus moves in our world and how He works. It is definitely going to be an eye opening morning.