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.

Take Your Next Step

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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.

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

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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.

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.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Start with Why

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (kindle version) by Simon Sinek.

As of today, this is the best book I’ve read all year. This is a book that if you are a leader, you need to read.

The thrust of the book is what Sinek calls The Golden Circle of “Why, what, and how” (see image below).

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Most pastors struggle with this concept. They can talk all day about “what” their church does. They can even tell you the inner workings of “how” their church works. Very few can tell you “why” they do anything. And, if they are seeing the results (“what”) based off of why.

In fact, this is what many churches and pastors do at conferences. They hear a speaker talk about “what” they do a their church, go home and copy it. That church grew because they preach through books of the Bible. That church grew because of video sermons. That church grew because of louder music. Yet, they never ask “why” did that church do that in the first place? What made them have to do that? That’s what the why is.

This book came at the right time for me and was a great reminder. Revolution Church is about to turn 5 years old in a couple of weeks. We are beginning plans to plant our first church in the next year. Our missional communities are growing, more leaders are getting developed. Everything is working. We are seeing results. At this point, it is easy for a church to drift and get fuzzy as Sinek calls it.

Here’s a video of Sinek talking in this topic at TED:

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. Aaron Armstrong on Are buildings a hinderance or a help to churches? I think the last question of, “do we need a building” is a question more churches should ask.
  2. Brian Dodd on 13 Habits Of Highly Friendly Churches.
  3. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield on DOMA and the Rock.
  4. Paul Alexander on the dark side of vision.
  5. Dan Black on Should church leaders adopt best practice business and leadership principles.
  6. 3 things dying churches can do to avoid going out of business.

The Biggest Mistakes Young Preachers Make

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/68609422]

Money and the Vision of a Church

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Most pastors hate to talk about money. People also don’t like to hear pastors talk about money. Yet, money is a huge issue in people’s lives. They mismanage it, get divorced because of it and it often ruins their lives.

The reality for churches and pastors is:

There is a direct correlation between giving in a church and vision.

I was talking with some pastor’s the other day and the question of how to increase giving in a church came up.

Now, if you aren’t a pastor you may think this a coarse conversation to have. Why would a pastor want giving to go up? The reason is simple:

  • Giving is a heart issue. Jesus said as much in Matthew 6:21. If giving goes down, it shows that the heart of the people in the church aren’t there, their passion and worship is somewhere else besides Jesus. 
  • It shows that they might need to hear solid, biblical teaching on the topic.
  • It shows buy-in.

It was this last reason that struck me as I thought about.

While churches can increase giving and generosity by having a giving challenge (you can listen to me here giving our last giving challenge), or teaching on giving (which many pastors need to start doing).

What many churches need do a better job at is communicating a compelling vision. When the giving at Revolution has gone down it has been during the seasons where our vision was cloudy or if felt like our vision wasn’t going anywhere.

Tell stories. Show how your church is winning. Talk about how your vision is happening. Make videos, show people it is happening.

People want to be generous, they want to be part of something that is winning, something that is going somewhere.

Act Your Size

One of the things many pastors struggle with is how to lead the church depending on the size they are. There’s a leadership adage pastors talk about that if you want to grow your church, you must act larger than what you are. There is a lot of truth in this. But how much larger?

I talked to a guy the other day who leads a church of 100 who has someone answer his email because he heard a larger church pastor say his assistant checks his email. I heard a guy who leads a church of 200 say he doesn’t meet with people in his church because he wouldn’t do that when they were 1,000.

While these may sound ridiculous, they are both true.

At Revolution Church, we’ve always sought to lead the church based on what we would do if we were twice our size.

A few things I think leaders should keep in mind as they lead their churches or teams:

  1. Know what size you are right now. While leaders are to live in the future and be able to cast vision, your church lives in the present. The guy in your pew doesn’t care if you want your church to be large, he wants your attention and has a need he wants addressed.
  2. Be as available/accessible as possible. This is different for each leader depending on their personality and gift set. While you can’t counsel everyone, visit everyone, know everyone, you should do it for some. Andy Stanley said, “Do for one what you’d like to do for everyone.” Your church is never too big, your schedule is never too packed to be a pastor to someone.
  3. Do what you call others to do. If you call your leaders and people in your church to spend time with those who don’t know Jesus, to be a missional community or small group, then you do the same. You are not above this. I see a lot of pastors though who say, “My community is the staff or elders.” There’s some truth to that, but you call others to do it, you need to model it. If you are too busy or too important for community at your church, don’t be surprised when others tell you the same thing.
  4. Think twice your size. As I said before, a healthy way to lead is to lead and think twice your size. It keeps you close enough to where you are and far enough into the future to lead your church well.

Question: How far into the future should a leader think? What ways can you act your size while leading into the future well?

3 Distinctives to a Vision Based on Building God’s Kingdom

I’m reading through It’s Personal: Surviving and Thriving on the Journey of Church Planting by Brian Bloye. Before sharing all my thoughts on the book in a review, I wanted to share a few things that jumped out to me that I thought needed an entire post.

He shares some great insights into how you know if you have a compelling vision from God for your church and life:

  1. You’ll know that the vision is truly from God, because it’s all about him.
  2. It will be a vision that is too much for you to handle in your own abilities or wisdom.
  3. God will bring the right people to your team, and he’ll keep them there long enough for you to make significant progress toward your goals.

This Weekend @ Revolution: The Kind of Person who God Uses

Easter was an unbelievable time at Revolution Church. Started off with a powerful Good Friday of walking through the Stations of the Cross and then celebrating baptisms in our Easter services. If you weren’t there, you can listen to the sermon here and see some of the pictures of the baptisms here.

This week, we are continuing our series Weird and I’ll be preaching from 1 Peter 5:1 – 4 and looking at the kind of person God uses. We all want our lives to matter, to make a difference, but God has specific qualifications for the kind of person He uses.

When we think of a leader or a person God uses, we often think of a superhero kind of person. Someone who is strong, maybe good looking, looks and sounds spiritual whenever they open their mouth and seem almost otherworldly in how they live. But is that really who God uses? If so, that creates a narrow view. Yet, many people walk through life and think, “God could never use me.”

Peter points out not only who God uses (and the answer might surprise you), but also when God is most likely to use people (again, the answer on this one might surprise you as well).

This is a crucial week in this series as this gets into the area of leadership. All of us are leaders, we all lead someone in our life. We are all further on our journey with God than someone. The reality is not, am I a leader, but am I a good one?

In addition to talking about who God uses and when he uses them, I’ll also get into what it means to be a leader at Revolution Church, why that matters to you and how that will move us forward to being a church that plants churches. I can’t emphasize enough that you definitely do not want to miss this week or next week at Revolution (you don’t want to miss any week at Revolution, but these 2 weeks are critically important to who we are as a church and where we are going).

It is definitely a week you don’t want to miss.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at 4 & 5:30pm at 6620 E 22nd. St. See you Saturday.

The Circle Maker

I started The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams & Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson the other night and have not been able to put it down.

I told Katie this morning that she needs to stop reading whatever she’s reading and read this book. It was that good and challenging. There were a few things that jumped out to me from the book.

The first was the idea of drawing circles around prayer. Praying specific prayers. I’ve preached before on this idea and find that praying specific prayers stretches my faith and I see God move in powerful ways because of it. But I like the idea of circling something. For me, I’ve begun circling places I believe God wants us to plant Revolution Churches in Tucson. So this was a great reminder.

Another point was having a vision beyond your resources. I’ve already blogged on this idea, so I won’t belabor it, but suffice to say, if you can afford or pull off your prayers or dreams, they are too small. Another was the question Mark asked, “Is there a limit to God’s power?” All Christians would say no, yet we pray as if there is. We pray small prayers, believe possible things. This is the foundational question of prayer. Is there a limit to what God can do.

By far, the most life changing idea from this book was when he said, “Stop praying for something and start praying/praising through something.” God has already given us the promise of answered prayers and power in Scripture. Start praising God for what he will do. For me, I started to think about our adoptions and that God has already chosen children for our family, so instead of asking him to complete the adoption, I’ve begun thanking him for these children and praising through it. I believe God has put on my heart the prayer of planting a movement of churches around Tucson so that everyone is within a 10 mile drive of a Revolution Church and that 1 million people will enter the kingdom through Revolution (in my lifetime or beyond), so I’m beginning to pray as if that promise has already happened and giving God the glory for it.

While all of this is good, it is easy for this idea and the way Mark communicates it for someone to walk away and think of God as a vending machine. Pray this and you’ll get more than what you prayed for. Give this and God will give you 10 times what you gave. This is a tough line to walk when it comes to faith. Mark handles it well by bringing us back to the glory of God and how that needs to be the heart of our prayers and asking. He handled this well by comparing it to John the Baptist. One of Jesus’ closest friends, John is beheaded, while others are being healed, raised from the dead, walking after years of being lame and John does not get rescued. It’s a tough place to be, it is a dark place to be, but it is also a place that pushes our faith and asks if we truly believe in God and his sovereignty and his plan. The other reality is that sometimes God tells us no and doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want them. Sometimes he doesn’t bring healing like we hoped.

Here are a few other things that jumped out to me:

  • Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.
  • Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.
  • The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.
  • “God does not answer vague prayers.”
  • We usually focus on what we’re doing or where we’re going, but God’s primary concern is who we’re becoming in the process. We talk about “doing” the will of God, but the will of God has much more to do with “being” than “doing.”
  • Faith is the willingness to look foolish.
  • If you aren’t willing to be perplexed, you’ll never be amazed.
  • Many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. Our biggest problem is our small view of God.
  • God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is great because nothing is too small for Him.
  • All of us love miracles. We just don’t like being in a situation that necessitates one.
  • Show me your vision, and I’ll show you your future.
  • The degree of satisfaction is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty.

If you are looking for a book that will stretch your faith and prayer life, this is a great book to start with.