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. Practicing biblical hospitality.
  2. Geoff Surratt on 3 reasons guests don’t return to your church.
  3. An email from a proud deadbeat dad. Love Matt’s response. Definitely shows what is wrong with men in our culture.
  4. John Piper on Parents, require obedience from your children.
  5. 6 trends in kids ministry.
  6. Carlos Whitaker on 4 tips on how to handle social media with your kids. Great tips for parents.
  7. One father writes a letter to his daughters about body image. If you have a daughter, help her understand biblical body image.
  8. 30 hour work week.

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. Tim Elmore on 3 huge mistakes we make leading kids and how to correct them. Parents, teachers, kids pastors and student pastors need to read this. So helpful.
  2. Bringing clarity to organizational language.
  3. Jared Wilson on How your preaching might increase sin in your church.
  4. When everyone else has a better sunday than you. Every pastor feels this at some point, and this is good encouragement.
  5. Ron Edmondson on How to stop being a people pleasing pastor.
  6. 9 observations on the lonely pastor. Every pastor and church member needs to read this.
  7. David Dunham on Superman pastors are bound to fail.
  8. How to design message series for the unchurched.

5 Things I Learned from Teaching in Kids Ministry One Week

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This past Sunday I didn’t preach and took the opportunity to volunteer in Planet Rev, the kids ministry at Revolution Church. It was quite an experience for me and hopefully for the kids in the class.

So, here are 5 things I learned from teaching kids ministry one week:

  1. Tell stories. Everyone loves stories, but kids especially love stories. It is how they imagine things. Kids don’t do reason, they do stories. It is how things get passed down.
  2. Have one idea. Don’t have more than one idea. This is the same for a sermon. If you have more than one point, no one will remember it. I love that our church uses the gospel project in our kids ministry and how each week we point to Jesus in our lessons with the kids. Whatever lesson you are teaching to kids, students or adults, have one point.
  3. Sermon needs to be done on time. 75 minutes is a long time to keep any child entertained. Pastors, me included, often neglect this idea and say, “I went long cause the Spirit was moving.” That may be true, but the Holy Spirit can speak through a 35 minute sermon just like He can through a 55 minute sermon. If you say your service is 75 minutes long, it needs to be that long. Your volunteers plan for the amount of time they’ve been told and if you go long, it makes it hard on them.
  4. Say thanks to volunteers. Always say thanks to your volunteers. If you have 1 service, really say thanks as those who volunteer with the kids come to church JUST to serve that week. They miss interacting with adults, singing, taking communion, hearing a sermon. They are my heroes. They do this because they believe it matters and children need to hear about Jesus and parents should hear about Jesus in a way that makes sense to them.
  5. Interact with parents differently. It was fun serving in the kids ministry because parents did some double takes, is that really our pastor?

I think every pastor should take a week off from preaching and teach in the kids ministry at least once. At Revolution, all of our kids volunteers wear red vests to mark that they work with kids. Our Kids/Student Pastor asked me if I was going to wear the vest. I told him, “Whatever expectation you have for volunteers, you need to have for me.” I got over 20 comments that went something like this, “I can’t believe you volunteered in there and wore the vest.” What’s sad about that is the reminder of how as pastors we allow ourselves to be above things and not servants.

Lastly, if you volunteer with kids and students at Revolution Church. You are my hero. You poor into one of the most important ministries in the church today. You are shaping generations by the work you do. When you love on a child or a student, open the Bible to them and tell them about Jesus, you have the potential to affect every person they ever interact with, the person they marry, the children they have and one day the job they will hold. The influence you can have in that young person’s life is enormous.

Never forget that.

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. Barnabas Piper on You’re asking the wrong questions.
  2. One thing all successful churches must have. The one thing might surprise you. It did me.
  3. Trevin Wax on Is the Bible too violent for kids? I love that we use the gospel project in Planet Rev and how they have put it together and don’t gloss over what is in the Bible.
  4. Some pastoral wisdom from Thabiti Anyabwile. This is pure gold for a pastor.
  5. Bob Johnson on Questions a potential church planting wife should ask.
  6. Ron Edmondson on the 7 most exciting thing a pastor experiences and the 7 biggest frustrations a pastor experiences. These are all true.
  7. Thom Rainer on 7 things pastors would like their churches to know about their kids.

Links I Like

Links of the Week

  1. Listen to the new EP from Mar Hill worship band Ghost Ship. It’s a good one.
  2. Michael Patton on Why people love C.S. Lewis and hate Rob Bell.
  3. Free Advent resource for individuals and families from The Village Church.
  4. Leadership Network on New megachurch research.
  5. Michael Kelley on God will not give you more than you can handle.
  6. Mark Driscoll on 8 reasons single men should volunteer in the church nursery.
  7. Churches that embrace technology attract younger people.
  8. Grace Driscoll on Transitioning from the workplace to the workhome. Some practical insights that go with my sermon on Titus 2.
  9. Churches not canceling worship on Christmas Day.
  10. Bob Franquiz on Huge outreach results on a limited budget.
  11. Scott Williams on 5 reasons why organizations and individuals fail.
  12. The role of preaching in church planting.

Meet the Revolution Staff

This past Saturday, I got to talk about how Revolution is structured and what the means. I am incredibly blessed to have so many great leaders to work with. Without these leaders buying into the vision, buying into me and putting in all the time that they do, Revolution would cease to exist.

I talked about how Revolution is an elder protected, staff led church, what that means and why that matters. How things are structured at a church makes all the difference.

Each of these team members oversee many other teams. While it would have been great to talk about everyone, we did that before when I preached on Nehemiah 3 (which you can listen to here). On Saturday, I wanted to talk about the main leaders as our leadership team has grown and changed over the last few months to help us staff for growth (if you haven’t read this before, go and read this and come back).

The staff team helps in overseeing the day to day operation known as Revolution. All the ministries, follow-up, everything. Whatever it takes to keep the ship moving in the right direction.

In case you missed Saturday or don’t know who they are, here are some snippets:

Cody is the newest addition to the team. He is in the back middle. He oversees Rev Up, our student ministry, which launched two weeks ago. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this new ministry and what it will mean for Revolution and the lives of teenagers and their families. Cody has a huge personality and lights up every room with his energy and southern accent. By birth, he is a huge Bama fan. I am still trying to learn southern sayings without laughing, but he’s helping. He has dreams of getting me to like country music, but…

Paul is on the far left and he is our Pastor of Worship & Arts. He oversees everything that happens on Saturday:  the music, arts, videos, first impressions, set up and tear down. Paul is a massive Texas anything sports fan. He is also a secretly great basketball player. Don’t let his height fool you, if you are picking teams and he is there, pick him first. He will drain every 3 he takes.

Jennifer is in front of him, she goes with Paul. We all know why he picked her, but the jury is still out. She oversees Planet Rev which is our ages 0 – 5th grade ministry. This encompasses the largest volunteer team in our church and almost a third of our church. It is a huge undertaking every week to create a safe, secure, fun environment for kids to hear about Jesus in ways that make sense to them and partner with parents as they disciple their kids.

Christe is next to her. Christe is the glue that holds it all together. She is our admin. Without her, we would not last very long. She oversees all the details, keeping us on track. She oversees countless volunteers in the area of graphics, printing, marketing tools, any flyers, all of the follow-up we do. In many ways, she is becoming my right arm on so many projects for our church. The addition of Christe is huge for me personally as a leader and our church. She frees me up to do so many other things and takes the jobs (details) that I get lost in and she makes them fall into place.

As I said, I am incredibly grateful for the leaders I get to work with. The talent that God has assembled at Revolution is unbelievable. I hear from many pastors who can’t find good leaders, who have lazy leaders or aren’t passionate about the vision or the church. When I look at the leaders I get to work with, I thank God that I don’t have that problem with anyone at Revolution.

If you see these guys this Saturday, say thanks to them. They work hard (along with all the volunteers on their teams) to make Revolution happen. Their hearts are to serve you, the guests that walk through our front door and our city. They want to see lives changed.

Keep up the good work. Remember Revolutionaries, Saturday is coming. God has given us the opportunity to be a part of changing lives and eternities every week.

The Future of Revolution

For the last two weeks in our Nehemiah series, I have been laying out who we are as a church, where we have come from, where we are going and how we plan to get there.

In the last year, we have gone from 30 – 100. We are praying, dreaming and moving towards going from 100 – 300 in this next year.

Before diving into how we will get there, let me recap how we got here:

  • In December 2008, we were a church of 30 people. Paul and Jennifer raised half of their salary in 6 weeks and moved out here to be a part of this adventure of reaching the city of Tucson. Our weekly giving at that time averaged $800/week. With them coming on and our plans for 2009, our weekly budgeted need went to $3,118.
  • In the last quarter of 2008, we averaged 97 people and our weekly giving average was $3,118.

So how do we get to 300? Here are some ideas we have and we’d love to hear yours:

  • Invest and invite. As followers of Jesus we are called to invest in relationships and invite people to church. This way, we partner together in the process and it is not just up to one person. It is up to us with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  • We are doing more for families and kids. We will be kicking off Revolution VBS this summer. More details will follow soon.
  • We are doing more for students. Rev Up will kick off this year. Rev Up is being headed up by Cody and Hannah Brasher. This is a bright young couple that has been attending Revolution since August. So excited about the leadership, passion and energy they bring to reaching students and their families. This is huge for Revolution. It enables us to reach an entire demographic that previously we could not reach.
  • We are becoming more intentional about helping people discover their gifts, how they are wired and how they can better help build the city (Revolution) to reach the city of Tucson. More on this January 30th.
  • Small groups. This is the next step from Saturday night. If you want to get better connected at Revolution, grow in your relationship with God and have opportunities to serve in our city, this is the place. We are doing sign ups for our spring semester right now. You can learn more about that here. We are launching 5 small groups this spring, which is largest number yet, with plans to launch more small groups in the summer and fall semesters to accomodate the growth we are hoping to have.
  • Servant evangelism. Being missional an in our city has always been the heartbeat of Revolution. We are stepping that up this year. Each small group will do at least one servant evangelism outing (which we will open up to the whole church to participate in) and then an outing during the 4 weeks off from small groups.
  • Being expectant. As we have prepared for this series on Nehemiah, myself and the other leaders have been challenged by Nehemiah’s prayer life. He prayed specifically and intentionally for God to move. When we pray generally, it doesn’t take any faith. So we are praying specific prayers. This has raised our awareness and antennas to be a part of what God is up to in our world. It has also made us more expectant not only as we walk through our days that God will use us, but showing up on Saturday night expecting God to move and do big things.

Here is what I’m asking us to do as a church:

  • Pray specific prayers. Ask God to give you opportunities to talk with your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors who don’t know Jesus. Ask God to give you an opportunity to invite them to Revolution.
  • Then invite them.
  • Jump in. If you are not in a small group, get in one. If you are not serving on a team, get on one.
  • If you are not giving back to God, start. Honor God not only with your talents and time, but also the resources that He has blessed you with.
  • Show up on Saturday expecting God to move, expecting people to begin a relationship with Jesus, marriages saved, hurts healed.

2010 is going to be our best year as a church. Get ready Revolutionaries for God to some HUGE things in and through us.

What Guides Revolution #3 [Rewind]

On January 9th, we launched a brand new series on the book of Nehemiah called Building a City Within the City. Every church, organization or family has a list of seen and unseen things that guide decisions, what they value and how they function. Since we have so many new people at Revolution, I thought it would be good to share what guides us.

#3:  We will stay simple.

When I was growing up, we were at church all morning on Sunday morning:  Sunday school and then church. Back for choir practice Sunday afternoon, then church. Back Wednesday night, throw in some other ministries and you are living there.

A few years ago I was in a staff meeting at a church I just started working at. The Executive Pastor said with a smile, “If you wanted to, your family could be at our church 7 nights a week.” I asked, “Is that good?” You should have seen the glares I got. Apparently, I didn’t know what was “good.”

One of the things that has driven us is to be simple. At Revolution, we want to do a few things and we want to do them well. When we got started, we looked at what the Bible said a Christian was, what they did, what practices they were involved in and then set out to just do those things (worship, teaching, serving, community, reaching out).

Right now, here’s what we do:

  1. Worship gathering
  2. Small groups
  3. Kids ministry (Planet Rev)
  4. Student ministry (Rev Up)
  5. Missional Life Projects (outreach/serving)

One of the things we are doing to stay simple is with small groups. They run on semesters. There are 3, 12 week semesters each year, with a 4 week break in between. This is when we have sign ups for the upcoming semester. We also do most of our missional life projects in the context of small groups in place of having a “normal” small group time that week.

As you can see from the list above, there are a few less things than the church you grew up in. This is intentional. Does this mean the list will always be this small? Not necessarily, but we are not going to do something just because another church does it.

When a new idea comes up we ask:  Will this help us reach our target (20 – 40 year old men), can we do it better than anyone else? If we can’t do it better and someone else is doing it, our stance is how can we support them and be a part of what they’re doing? The goal is not to grow Revolution, but to expand the kingdom of God in Tucson.

What is interesting about this is the only push back we get on this is from people with a churched background. Unchurched people don’t give push back to this idea. The conversations I have with people as to why we don’t do more are always interesting. I will say something like this, “This isn’t the only biblical way to do church, it is just the way we do church. It may not seem right, but you can’t tell me it doesn’t work.” By staying simple, we are able to help people grow, not kill themselves with church activities, and stay on mission. Because their calendar doesn’t revolve around church, you are able to build relationships with those who don’t know Jesus and live out the gospel in front of them and share it with them. If you are always with Christians at church, you aren’t able to do that.

I think this philosophy is one of the reasons God is blessing Revolution and moving the way he is.

Links of the Week

  1. Top 10 Church Growth Strategies.
  2. Recommended resources from Acts 29 through the seasons of church planting. If you are planting a church or are in the midst of it, this is a great list of resources. Very thorough.
  3. Kent Shaffer just put together his list of the top 100 church blogs.
  4. Clayton King – An invitation is not an obligation. This is something all leaders need to keep in mind.
  5. Carlos Whitaker – Welcome to Sandals Church, Please Shut that Kid Up. What do you think of this?