Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • The first day back from vacation can be brutal.
  • I’m rested, excited about being back, but blown away by how much can stack up while you’re gone.
  • It was definitely different being at church yesterday without Paul. First time in over 5 years.
  • At the same time, it felt good as so many people commented about how church felt the same. That’s a good thing.
  • Mike did a great job preaching his first sermon.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Love seeing new communicators preach in our church and seeing their gifts develop.
  • On vacation I read one of the best books I’ve ever read on team building and hiring: It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best
  • So much wisdom in this book.
  • So far, my summer reading list has proven to be filled with great books.
  • Definitely came at a good time for me as we are hiring 2 new staff members at Revolution Church: A kids pastor and a pastor to lead worship and oversee missional communities.
  • I’m excited because tomorrow I’m going to be part of a google hangout you can watch on worrying, stress and church planting.
  • All the fun starts at 2pm EST.
  • You can watch here.
  • Getting closer and closer to finishing the first draft of my book.
  • Hard to believe.
  • I’ve been loving the world cup.
  • So many great games and great goals.
  • Stunned at how the US is hanging in their group.
  • This is a short one, cause I’ve got lots going on.
  • Til next time…

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God Will Let You Have Your Sin

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I was reading Romans 1 the other day and while this passage is often used as to why homosexuality is a sin, I was struck by something else. There is a phrase in vs. 24 and 26 where Paul says, “God gave them up to their dishonorable passions.”

When we choose to sin, and yes, every time we sin we are choosing to sin.

God will allow us to make that choice and experience what comes from that choice. That wording, “gave them up” is a handing over.

Often, when we experience the ramifications of sin, we get angry at God. Why didn’t he intervene? He did, He allowed us to move forward.

The truth of the gospel is that God does and will rescue us from our sin. He does give us a way out of temptation. He also will allow us to have our sin.

Often we complain about the consequences of our sin. Why does God allow our sin to hurt ourselves, others? Why do we bear consequences for what we do wrong? Why are relationships broken because of words? Why do our actions lead to bankruptcy, broken trust? This falls into the area of what God allows.

His will is not for this to happen, but is what He allows.

There is grace found in our consequences. 

When we feel the consequences of our sin, we learn that God is indeed good. In our sin, we learn that God is better than our sin and the temptations we face.

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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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What’s Next for Revolution Church

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On Sunday, we announced at church that Paul and Jennifer Ingram are moving to Alabama for Paul to be the worship leader at a church there. This is bittersweet for our church and for me personally. I have worked Paul longer than anyone else in my life. Paul and Jennifer have been a crucial piece to get Revolution to where it is today and I’m not sure we would’ve made it through the planting phase without their gifts.

But as I said on Sunday, “God has a way of moving resources to the places they are needed most when they are needed most.”

As Paul mentioned on Sunday, he started feeling this past year like God was preparing to move them to a new place, which means God has some exciting things in store for us as a church as we continue forward and continuing growing. Whenever God calls someone somewhere, God begins calling a person to replace that person.

For us, this comes at the right time as we are growing from a church of 300 to 500. This is a crucial season in the life of our church. What makes this exciting is that we are able to seek God as to the kind of leaders He thinks we need to take this step. While I always thought Paul would be a part of that equation and we would lead Revolution together for decades, God had other plans.

On June 15th, we will say good bye to the Ingram’s and celebrate what God has done through them.

Going forward, this leads to a few questions. Paul and Jennifer did a lot at our church in worship, finances and Planet Rev.

Over the summer, AJ Winslow who has been mentored by Paul and has led regularly at our church will be leading the worship area as we figure out what is our best next step. He will lead a couple times a month and oversee all the behind scenes of our worship and tech area. We will also have some guest worship leaders from churches here in Tucson and Phoenix that we are connected to. It has been exciting to see the way other churches we’ve supported and blessed over the years reach out to us and ask how they can help us in this transition. While it can be hard to have a rotation like this, know that the quality of our worship will not drop as we move forward.

In the area of finances, if you have a question you can direct them to Jason Wood or Ciara Hull. Jason is one of our elders and has worked closely with Paul in this area over the past year and this is a natural transition. Ciara has been on staff for over a year and knows the inner workings of what Paul does each week in this area and this will enable us to have a seamless transition in this area.

For Planet Rev, God has once again blown me away with how he has protected our church and put pieces into place to ensure that Revolution will continue without a hitch. Several months ago, we announced that we were beginning a search to hire a full-time Children’s director. We went with a local organization to lead the search as we felt they understood the culture of Tucson and could provide training and coaching to our leaders and volunteers. This ministry, led by Karen Wendling will be overseeing Planet Rev during the interim time. This will allow us to keep all our classroom leaders in place (which will keep things the same for your child and our volunteers) while we continue the search for a leader in this area. In fact, we have 2 interviews next week, so be praying for that as we move forward.

As I said at the top, this is a sad, but exciting time for our church. God has protected us in the past and sent us the leaders we needed at the moment we needed them, and I know He will do the same now as we move forward.

If you have questions about our next step or for Paul and Jennifer, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Paul.

Have a great week and I’ll see you Sunday as I’m preaching our next sermon in our Change series on “How to trust God.”

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

    • Yesterday was an exhausting but exciting day in the life of Revolution Church, and for Katie and I.
    • It was sad because we announced that Paul and Jennifer Ingram are moving to a church in Alabama.
    • I have worked with Paul longer than anyone else in my life and we have been through so much with their family over the past 5 years of planting together.
    • His last day will be on June 15th.
    • I always thought Paul and I would work together for decades, but 5 years is pretty incredible.
    • As I told our church yesterday, we are moving into a crucial season as a church as we grow from 300 to 500.
    • God always has a way of making things happen at the right time on his timetable.
    • This is no different.
    • I’ll be posting tomorrow about some of the details of what our transition plan looks like over the summer.
    • It’s been nice having the last 2 weeks off from preaching, but I’m excited about preaching this coming Sunday.
    • I’m talking about how to trust God when trusting God or others is hard to do.
    • Joe did a great job yesterday preaching his first sermon at our church.
    • Love seeing new communicators and leaders rise up in Revolution and get trained.
    • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
    • I spent much of last week finishing up the rough draft of my book.
    • It’s due on August 1st and I’ve been trying to work ahead of my deadline.
    • So far, so good.
    • I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like my summer weeks are busier than my non-summer weeks.
    • How does that happen?
    • Makes me really excited for my summer preaching break coming up.
    • I’m starting a new training program today with a new trainer.
    • Excited about continuing to grow in that area of my life.
    • I’m reminded more and more how important physical health is to longevity in ministry.
    • Too many leaders and pastors don’t take this seriously enough.
    • I’m reading what might be the best church planting book ever and it not a church planting book.
    • It’s called The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.
    • Planters, buy this book.
    • You’re welcome.
    • Time to get back to it…

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

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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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Trevin Wax on The uselessness of twitter battles.

Twitter is a place for conversation, but once we go into battle mode, I think the legitimate conversation is already over. Twitter battles are like putting on a spectacle for the perverse pleasure (or dismay) of the Twitter audience. Has anyone watching one of these debacles ever said, “You know what? You convinced me! I’m wrong and you’re right.” No one. Ever.

21 ways to perk up your productivity.

Chuck Lawless on 10 ideas from wise leaders.

Give your family veto power over your schedule.  He’s an incredibly busy man, but he somehow manages his schedule well. Here’s what he taught me: involve your wife before you make a commitment that requires you to be away from home after work hours. Be prepared to change your schedule if your family says, “We need you at home.” You’ll be less likely to lose your family in the midst of busyness if they have opportunity to help you plan your schedule.

Denny Burk on How to deal with false teachers.

Not every purveyor of false teaching is a lackey of the Devil. We have examples in scripture where bona fide believers are the source of error in the church. Apollos was a man mighty in the scriptures who taught accurately about Jesus but who nevertheless was only familiar with John’s baptism. In Apollos’ case, his deficient teaching was an error of omission. He simply did not yet know the full apostolic message. Priscilla and Aquila came alongside Apollos and explained to him the way of God “more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Presumably, Apollos responded favorably to their correction such that Paul would later identify Apollos as a co-laborer in preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 3:5-9).

3 tips on being a friend of sinners.

If Jesus was a friend of sinners, we should be too, it seems — somehow, someway. And instantly, this discussion can drift into a much bigger one about Christians and culture and all that. But instead of going there, let’s just talk friendship for a minute. Friendship, which is not without its implications, is more practical and relevant than a primer on the church’s posture in society. So in that light, here are three tips on being a friend of sinners.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Lunch Edition]

mind dump

  • The past 3 weeks have been a growing time for me personally as a husband and father, but also as a pastor
  • I’ve really enjoyed preaching specifically to women in our Beautiful series
  • I tweeted out that all pastors should do a series for women, if only to learn more clearly the struggles the women in their church go through
  • It created some great conversations in our missional communities
  • The response from women about the conversations they are having with their spouse or the things they are wrestling through personally has been overwhelming
  • Definitely what we prayed this series would do
  • If you missed yesterday as I walked through Proverbs 31, you can listen to it here
  • Paul and I spent a day last week learning about taking Revolution to multiple sites
  • So excited for the future of church planting at Revolution
  • What was once just wishful thinking 5 years ago (having more than one Revolution Church) is getting closer to a reality
  • So excited for Fight to kick off this week
  • Seriously, if you have been wanting to invite a guy to church, this is the week to do it
  • I took Gavin to a U of A basketball game last night
  • Such a fun daddy date
  • He couldn’t get over how cool it was
  • One of the things I love about this time of year is being able to watch the Olympics with the kids
  • They are so intense
  • Pretty excited because we are celebrating a birthday in our house today and going to see The Lego Movie
  • Heard great reviews about it
  • Speaking of movies
  • Katie and I went to see Lone Survivor on Friday night
  • Wow
  • So moving
  • I was simply astounded by the courage of those men and others like them
  • Seriously, you need to see it
  • We are beginning the process of looking for a full-time children’s pastor at Revolution Church
  • This is such an important hire for our church
  • Planet Rev is exploding and I’m excited for this person to help take it to a new level
  • Last week, Katie and I spoke at MOPS about how to communicate and fight well
  • It was great to interact with that group of women and help to push some of their thinking
  • It was also incredible sad talking to many of them afterward and hearing story after story of brokenness in their own life, their husband or their marriage
  • Heartbreaking
  • All I could think of was, “Why don’t their pastors challenge their husbands more?”
  • It was a good reminder to me of one of the many things that are at stake every week at Revolution when I preach
  • The ripple effects of brokenness go for generations
  • Sorry to end this on a sad note
  • I need to do some lunchtime “Murph” in honor of Lone Survivor
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Church Multiplication with Geoff Surratt | Session 3

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Paul and I are spending the day learning about church multiplication and multi-site with Geoff Surratt. Really excited about today as we are looking towards church planting in the future of Revolution Church.

Here are some notes from the third session:

What should a multi-site church reproduce:

  • What do you value?
  • What are you uniquely good at?
  • What is reproducible?
  • What is non-essential?
    • The more you reproduce, the harder it is and the more it costs.

Funding questions:

  • What model are we going to use?
    • The model you are going to use will determine what you will need to spend.
  • How many will we launch?
  • What are our financial expectations?

Two views of operating budgets of multi-site churches

  • Shared Purse: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
  • Capitalism: Each church lives on its own income.

Defining DNA

  • What are the irreducible minimums?
  • What is up to individual leaders?
  • Are you a high accountability church or a control church?

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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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John Piper on Don’t waste your weaknesses in 2014.

Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness. But I am calling you to give attention and effort in finding your weaknesses and maximizing their God-given purpose. The Bible tells us what that purpose is in 2 Corinthians 12:8–10. Paul had been given a “thorn in the flesh” which was one instance of a “weakness.” Why?

The top 30 blogs Christian leaders need to read.

Zach Nielsen on How to avoid mission drift in 2014.

New pastors and/or church planters have extremely high aspirations for maintaining the purity of their church’s mission. All those churches they used to work for got too messy, complicated, and unfocused. “This church won’t be that way!” they vow to themselves and other leaders.

A gut level, honest struggle every Christian leader has.

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian leadership is keeping your relationship with God fresh and alive.

Ed Stetzer on What evangelicals can learn from TIME naming the Pope the person of the year.

The immediate evangelical responses to the TIME story were interesting to watch: some evangelicals said appreciative things about the Pope’s actions, only to be criticized by other evangelicals for compromising, some took the time to point out all the ways they disagreed with Catholicism, and others just said nothing.

Dan Reiland on 4 questions every young leader should be asking.

The leader in trouble is not the one who doesn’t have all the answers; it is the one who doesn’t know the right questions.

Tim Brister on How to create a disciple making plan in 2014.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

Mike Anderson on How to plan your ideal week.

The more responsibility I take on, the more my life feels out of control. One good way to help bring some order to my calendar is planning an ideal week. I try to keep it simple.

Planning a Preaching Calendar

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I mentioned in my mind dump on Monday that we have our sermons for 2014 planned out and I got a few emails from guys asking how we plan that far in advance, what goes into it, how we decide what to do that far in advance, etc.

So, here are some thoughts.

First, why plan that far in advance. This often gets debated. Should you plan at the last minute or plan ahead. The fly by the seat of their pants guys will often say, “I’m waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak” or “If you plan that far in advance, you will take the Holy Spirit out of it.” I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit can speak 1 hour before I preach a sermon and 1 year before I preach a sermon. I just need to listen. I think planning ahead is biblical and wise, whether it is your life or ministry. Can you take the Holy Spirit out of things by planning that far in advance? Yes. You can also take the Holy Spirit out by being a last minute guy because you are more likely to preach what you want to preach.

Here are a few things I think through when planning a preaching calendar:

  1. What have I already preached on. It is important to know what you have already preached on and not repeat it. If you have just done 3 NT books of the Bible, change it up. We try to alternate between old testament and new. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s the rhythm we seek to have. We are in John right now and before that we did Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, Joshua, and before that 1 & 2 Peter. You don’t have to rigidly lock into that, but it helps to make sure you are preaching different books, topics and genres of Scripture.
  2. What topics do I feel like my church needs to hear. This gets at who is at your church, who you are hoping to reach, what questions your culture is asking. Every year at our church, we seek to preach on marriage, relationships, generosity, and money. We will hit those topics every single year regardless of what books we preach through. Why? Our culture is always asking questions about those things. In this point, you need to think through time of year. We talked about doing a series on pain and suffering in February 2014, but people aren’t asking those questions then. They are still asking questions about meaning, purpose and how to have a better new year, be a better person. You can argue those aren’t great questions to ask, but you can’t argue with the fact that they are asking those questions.
  3. What haven’t I talked on recently. This helps to identify the places you gravitate towards and help expose things you are afraid to address or have simply skipped. This is when you look back at your old sermon schedule and see where you’ve been.
  4. What am I passionate about. This can be good and bad. It is good because you have to preach what you are passionate about. Otherwise, no one will listen. It is bad because you can easily preach what you are only passionate about. It took me 5 years at Revolution to preach through a whole gospel. Why? Because I love the NT letters more. That can be unhealthy for a church if it goes too long. Other preachers stay in the gospels and ignore Paul, or ignore the OT.
  5. Where is my church going. This is a vision question. What is coming up in the next year that you can preach towards? For Revolution, we are praying towards planting Revolution Church | Midtown next year, because of that, I want to preach towards that. We are going to go through 1 Corinthians next year leading up to that moment. This will allow me to hit topics of a gospel centered church, what the gospel does, talk about how a church responds to divorce, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, how a church functions with spiritual gifts, leadership and other issues that arise in a church. This means though, as a pastor you need to lead with vision and know where you are going.

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