Saturday, January 31, 2009

bayne's superbowl pick is...

Ever since the fumble away loss of the Titans to the Ravens my football heart has been sad. Yes I admit it, I have not really enjoyed the playoffs since that defeat. I just wanted us to get to play Pittsburgh again and see if we had really arrived. The towel stomp was too much to overcome, bad mojo Titans fans! Well we never got the chance and now I have to choose. Honestly, I am not really stoked about the game. Not a big fan of either and I refuse to pic the Cardinals just because Kurt Warner is a great guy and Christian. If the Cardinals win, good for Kurt he is a great guy. I watched Kurt beat my Titans in 1999 and I just can not go there. So Bayne is picking the Steelers over the Cards 34-2o in a great game.
Football wise...Pittsburgh is determined, they have a TEAM, they have great defense. Think Mike Tomlin is an amazing coach. Willie Parker is going to run for days. I have too many friends who are real Steeler fans. I have never met a true Cardinal fan, do they exist outside of Arizona? If they do exist they were ashamed all season as the Cards floundered in the weakest division in football. The run ends Sunday with a Steeler victory then we all get ready for kickoff 2009. Go Titans! Who are you picking Sunday...I really want to know!

Friday, January 30, 2009

at the VIVA CATIE concert we raised...

we raised......over 1,000 dollars last night for the Lance Armstrong Foundation! We had over 250 people come out! It was an amazing night and we are pumped about the Viva Catie Concert in 2010...better get a bigger venue! Thanks to all of you who came out and gave. every dollar counts in our fight against cancer. Thanks to all the bands and volunteers who served, you all did an amazing job.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Viva Catie Concert...tonight!

We have worked, prayed and planned for this night for over a month and it is here. Tonight we gather around music but for a cause. The Viva Catie Concert is one night where we gather together to raise support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and fight cancer. Catie Summers was a friend that discovered she had cancer in middle school. She fought the disease with passion and vigor until she lost the battle in her Junior year of High School. Catie is in heaven now and completely healed but for those left behind she showed us how to live every moment to the fullest. Catie also believed he could beat this disease and she did beat all the odds, continue to go to school, raise money for cancer research, hang out with her friends, and enjoy life. Tonight this concert is for Catie and for all those who have battled this disease. This is a donation only show and all proceeds from cafe will be donated also! The Daniel Doss Band, Mike's Chair, the remix band, and Will Mckelvey will all be performing tonight and we hope to see you there also. For more info click on the graphic above to go to

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

To Write Love on Her Arms

Just got an email from a good friend from Virginia. The past year has been hell for his family because they have had to experience the pain of watching their little girl, now a teen, struggle with cutting and signs of an eating disorder. I know this family, love them so much. They are a great family and this young lady is a beautiful young woman with an incredible future ahead. This season in her life has been terrible and the same story is being played out in every city, across America. To Write Love on He Arms is an organization facing the pain of depression, eating disorders, drug abuse, and cutting that so many people are trapped in. This is a difficult issue and most of us do not want to face it until it hits someone we love. I was just reminded today that this is real. Please be aware, and be ready to be there for a friend or family that feels trapped. Go check out this organization and see the work they are doing. Please if you go visit the site know that these guys are in the middle of helping people try to find healing. Some of the stories are raw and difficult to understand. Just want you to be aware. If you are reading this and this is your story and you feel trapped please know you are not alone!

I am thankful for the work TWLOHA is doing. Thanks for running into the darkness and bringing light and hope!

what the heck is spiritual growth anyway

What is spiritual growth? I may be the only one asking this but i find myself trying to figure out what a "mature" follower of Jesus looks like. The search for this answer leads us to create all kinds of tools, programs, systems, and rules to prove growth is happening. The problem is that in my life it has been an amazingly messy journey and I have not and do not think I will ever stop growing and maturing. I could live 1,000 years and just begin to embrace the kind of life Jesus modeled for us. It is so consuming. John Burke, in his book No Perfect People Allowed, connected so many dots for me about what this growth process looks like in our Western culture. The book has been out for a while but I feel a kind of kinship with the direction of the church he leads and Grace Community. One of the pages I marked on the read through really helped me grab onto what growth looks like for all of us who refuse to run from the "world" Jesus gave His life for. Here was the passage of scripture...Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Love that passage! I do not pretend to have all the answers about spiritual growth but the passage and John's book remind me that growth in never isolated. It happened in community together with other believers. Why? Maybe so that we are always reminded that as we grow we are not better than others but in desperate need of other people because we can not live out the life Jesus modeled without community. The Christian faith is not just about a PERSONAL eternal destination it is just as much about bringing God's kingdom into reality here on earth even in our lives. The idea that we will begin to think, live, give, serve, and love like Jesus blows me away and calls me to change in my own life. Growth happens as we care about our fellow man as we care about ourselves.

John says about Gateway community in the book...
"For this reason, our primary goal from day one has been to connect people into small group communities. We teach people how to be a unified community, building up one another in love, using their gifts to serve others in response to the leading of Jesus."

Could Ephesians 4:11-16 be a road map to helping people discover spiritual growth? For me it helps. This is the mission of the ministries we lead and the door is wide open to discover new ways to help people encounter community and become more like Christ. What an adventure!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

rethink youth ministry...

It was great to sit down this week with George Stull, the director of student ministries at Cross Point church in Nashville. It is always refreshing to take time out of my week just to connect with another leader, hear their story, and dream about what youth ministry can be today. The one place we both landed on with both ministries we lead was that we need to have the courage to view student ministry from a wider perspective. We usually measure our impact around a program that we run. Student leaders must step back and evaluate what we do from the church / community level and not just through our meetings or programs. We have to be asking...

How many students are plugged into the life of the church we serve? (are we a part of the local church we serve or just leading a teen church within an adult church)

How are we helping students to see the adventure of living for and through Jesus?

How are students connecting with and experiencing community at all levels, young life, fca, the environment we lead, home groups, etc.? (teens need community and there are multiple ways to connect with teens, our program is not the final answer)

How many students are serving?

How are we supporting an encouraging parents to be influencers in their teens spiritual journey?

Are we willing to stop supporting programs, environments that we are having to manufacture energy for? (many of us try to DO so much we have no time to BE with anybody in healthy relationships)

Student ministry is always changing because the teens we are reaching live in a changing world. I pray we will be willing to adapt our STUFF to reach teens for Christ and help them to live in and through Christ. What questions are you asking when it come to serving teenagers today?

Monday, January 26, 2009

first impression?

Today I had my first can of Diet Pepsi in the new can. Great design, love the look. I know you may be thinking, does it matter how the can looks? We all think we don't care about design until we see something we do not like. When we have a bad first impression suddenly it matters. First impressions do matter. First impressions leave us desiring or rejecting many things around us. First glance moments impact our choice of TV shows, restaurants, jobs, cars, clothes, and even relationships. I saw the Pepsi can today and immediately liked the look. It had nothing to do with the taste, my brain just liked the design. a local restaurant I like called Cumberland Grill just did a huge makeover outside and the place screams, COME IN AND EAT. It looks great! At GCC we had new banners made for the main hallway and it looks so much more inviting. You actually know where to go and the banners have a look that connects with our branding. I looked a local photographers web site and I immediately thought it would be someone I would use! Ok, banners, graphics, and design only help with first impression but I think that one first moment is HUGE. Over time quality trumps first impression, but a good first impression allows people to see the substance quicker. First impressions are either helping your organiztion of hurting it? Make sure the first impression's you are getting say what you want them to say...that is the secret.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Viva Catie Concert...THIS THURSDAY

This coming Thursday night is going to be an amazing night in the life of relevant student ministry as we continue to try to see where God is working and then move that direction. On January 29 we will host the first Viva Catie concert as we unite together through music to raise support for the Lance Armstrong Fund to support cancer research. Cancer Sucks, it destroys lives, we can fight it, we are going to take action. Will post again later in the week but I ask you out there to pray for us as we get ready for Thursday night and help us raise a ton of money to fight this disease. Hope you can make it out to see Mike's Chair, Daniel Doss Band, the remix band, Will Mckelvy, and Jason Roy. There are no ticket for the show, donations only! Help us do something about this disease. for details hit!

Friday, January 23, 2009

good stuff...

Last week I showed the girls the Photo Booth program on my Mac and they loved it, really loved it. Who doesn't like making their head look like a stretchy mess on a computer screen. If you want to see our first collection just go look on my facebook page. It has been a busy week. Just the fact that I missed posting yesterday will let ya know it was a crazy Thursday. Sure I have a few things to knock out this weekend but I am really excited about being with the family. I just need to slow down for a few days...make some more pictures, HA.

In office news - The GCC office is officially moving over to the MAC, wow it is a glorious day. Now we can all make stretchy head pictures!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the right response?

Most of life is made up of responses? Responding to people, responding to problems, responding to success, responding to hurt...Response is a pretty big thing. This week I had the chance to watch a student I have mentored respond to a difficult situation. It was so exciting to see maturity rise to the top in the middle of chaos. My friend had spent several weeks planning an event at school. Tons of time, tons of effort and the event turned out great. After the event a teacher confronted him and was very sarcastic in asking why something was not done the way she wanted it. The student thought it was a joke then later asked the teacher if there was a problem. THEN CAME THE RESPONSE MOMENT - the teacher shared their feelings and added several wonderful choice words and attacked my friends character. WOW, how would you respond. The student apologized then wrote a letter formally apologizing later that day. With all he could have said and all the commotion that could have been caused the student apologized and moved on. Really he did nothing wrong but he apologized for missing a detail important to this teacher. What a response! This is the verse I was reminded off...

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

My friend had every right to throw that teacher under the bus and cause a major stink over what was said and done. He could have fired back and been confrontational. He chose to respond with respect and patience. He chose the gentle response. Sounds like something Jesus would do. There is a time to confront. There is a time to respond in tons of different ways. We must know the God does care about the response we choose. How we respond to life determines the outcome of so many situations. No matter what we just need to respond well. Thanks to my friend for the reminder.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

plan and evaluate

We are spending the day in an all day planning session with our staff here at Grace Community. At every church I have served at we have done planning different. Some we did little planning, some we did longer off site planning retreats, and some we did on campus planning meetings. Every team is going to plan differently, but if any organization is going to make progress the team has to know the PLAN. Not that our plans will last, we are limited in our knowledge but the One we serve kind of knows all. Well ok, God does know all. It does not mean we plan less. The fact that God knows all should drive our teams to gather, dream out loud, and seek the plan in prayer. Our team at GCC functions better when we have a plan and we feel like we have given God full chance to influence that plan. When we plan we have direction that guides our effort. We can say no to distraction. We can manage our time better. We can celebrate and evaluate at the end of the plan. Our planning strategy here is to gather 3 or 4 days a year for one day planning sessions. We always get away from the office and we always take time together to just be WITH GOD but other than those 2 things we keep if flexible. The pace of life moves so fast that spreading our planning days out keeps us alert and flexible to change.

So there ya go...Bayne's thoughts on planning. Go plan and trust God. One thing is for sure, your plan will change but having direction will make a huge difference in your life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

monday brain dump

Had a great weekend hanging out with my wife. This is the first time we have dropped the kids off with grandparents and come back to Clarksville to hang out for the weekend. We went on 2 dates, got to rest, and just had a good time. Our kids had a great time in Shelbyville with their grandparents. It was a win win and we will have to do this again. Man I love my wife, she is the best. Here are some random thoughts on Monday!
  • What are we about at Grace Community? Go listen to the podcast from this week. Good stuff, in fact God has been really blowing us away these past few months. We are so grateful that God is allowing us to be able to serve Clarksville.
  • When I saw our attendance this week I almost passed out. In fact I thought it was a mistake. Thanks to everyone who did the GRACE SQUEEZE to move to the middle seats in the gathering. I think our next move will be to ask some of our leaders to sit in the front 2 rows to free up seats in the back for guests. Good problems to have. Thanks GCCer's for being flexible!
  • We had a huge challenge in our set up process Sunday and Katrina Watts handled it so well. I am so proud of our family ministry staff. They just rock it each week. Thanks to our set up and tear down volunteers, you are amazing and we could not do this without you!
  • Cross Street Live is coming up on Feb. 8. This will be our second family production. Hope to have a promo video ready this week. We will see!
  • Terrace Crawford got a new job, way to go T, I know you will do a great job!
  • Staff planning day this week and a few lunches with student pastors in the area. I am looking forward to connecting.
  • the Viva Catie concert is next week. This is a concert we are hosting to raise money for cancer research. Yes we are taking action and yes we can make a difference. Pray for us as we get close to this night. Go to for more info
  • We had our second community group meting last night. It was great!
  • watched 2 movies this weekend with Chelsea, Valkarie was great and wathed the new Hulk on DVD, it was great also.
  • FINALLY - it was hard to not see the Titans in the championship game against the Steelers. Congrats to Steeler and Cardinal fans. It will be a fun Super Bowl.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2 things I keep laughing at...

There are 2 things I keep laughing at...first the phrase "IN THIS ECONOMY". When you place that in front or after whatever you are talking about it makes what you are talking about not seem so bad. I lost half my 401K...BUT In this economy we are doing well. My house is now worth 5 dollars and that is good in THIS ECONOMY. My burger cost 60 cents what a deal IN THIS ECONOMY. I may be the only one who is tied of hearing the phrase. I just add IN THIS ECONOMY to everything I say right now.

The second is this commercial...Thanks Pete for the pic, this is a HORRIBLE idea and if I ever walk into my house and see on of these I promise to burn it on the spot...Yes it is the dreaded SNUGGIE, use a blanket people not a blanket poncho!!!!
Have a great weekend and order a SNUGGIE so you can knit on the couch and be warm!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The student pastor at my church invited me to volunteer in the student ministry. I ran sound, help with events, led small group stuff, went on mission trips all as a volunteer. AMAZING OPPORTUNITY to serve in my church, shaped my life forever!

I was in college and my pastor invited me to join the staff at Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church and experience ministry from a staff perspective...what a huge OPPORTUNITY before I left for seminary (grad school for pastors, it is kind of boring at times well for that matter all school is)

At First Clarksville I got the OPPORTUNITY to create environments for middle school students...camps, service, Bible Study groups, events...I learned I loved to create environments and work with teams of volunteers!

At First Norfolk I was given the OPPORTUNITY to serve on a creative team with my pastor and several on the staff as we worked to shape the service flow each week. Great to learn how to contribute in the creative process with a group of leaders.

Now at Grace Community I have been given the OPPORTUNITY to experiment, create and shape environments for kids and teens. I have been given the OPPORTUNITY to create from the ground up but this current OPPORTUNITY is shaped by all the people that gave me opportunities in the past and invested in my life. I am the person I am today because of the opportunities I have been given over time. I am so grateful people have believed in me along the way and given me a chance to lead. It is so important to remember when we give other chances to lead in our current ministry or organization we are a part of that persons journey. We don't just give people "jobs" or "responsibilities" we give them OPPORTUNITY to make a difference. Who are you giving OPPORTUNITY to right now?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Viva Catie Concert - January 29...

This is one night where RELEVANT is going to sponsor a concert where we simply gather to raise money to fight cancer. How can we fight back...we can raise support to help research through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. All of us have been effected by cancer at some point in our life and we are hoping that tons of you in Clarksville will join us in this effort. The remix band, Mike's Chair, Jason Roy from Building 429, and DDB (the daniel doss band) are just a few of the artists that will be at the show. We are just asking people to come, enjoy, and donate so that we can be a part of the solution. Will be blogging more next week about Catie Summers...the incredible young lady this event is named after.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 Father/Daughter PURITY BALL!

If you live in Clarksville, and you are a dad of a K-12 grade daughter you need to check incredible event out. Every year the Hope Center here in Clarksville sponsors this night for dads and daughters for an incredible night of connection and dancing, YES little girl is thrilled. The plan is to get some dads together, dress up, take our daughters out, go to the ball, and have an amazing night. What girl does not want to go to a ball. Oh yea, they have a night for kids and a night for teens. I am a HUGE fan of this night and Kozbi is so excited. Click on the logo above to get more info!

Monday, January 12, 2009

random monday thoughts, just random...

It is Monday and it has been a early start to the week. Early morning meeting to think, pray and plan some stuff at Grace Community. Not a big early morning person but I made it and I made it on time. That is huge for me and early morning meetings. Today I was on time, what a WIN. God is doing some amazing things at Grace Community in the lives of people. It was great to pray, think, discuss, dream about the future with a group of people that love Jesus more than attendance, buildings, and budgets. It is great to look to the future and ask God what he wants us to do....NOT WHAT WE WANT TO DO. Our ideas are good but the best path forward is God's plan. Great days are ahead for GCC but hope we do not have too many more of these early morning things, wow...lunch anybody! Please! Just a few other thought banding around in my head this morning...
  • We each need to be coming to God in prayer with the details of our life! How can we gripe about life when we do not talk to God about real life stuff. Problems at work, hard times with family, the money crunch going around. We all really need to ask God to be a part of the details of our life. Just been reminded of this so much lately.
  • Chelsea and I had a great time last night in our new community group. Kids loved playing with their friends more. So glad God has allowed us to connect with this group of people.
  • Proud of the Titans not blaming the loss on the refs and that terrible NO CALL on the delay of game in the 4th quarter. REFS, TERRIBLE job but our tram lost that game. Titans are a class organization.
  • Proud of our family ministry team here at GCC and the volunteer staff. SUNDAY and last Wednesday WAS GREAT and you made it happen. Thanks for investing in the lives of kids and teens each week.
  • It was great to see so many folks at Grace Community Sunday. It dawned on me that in the beginning people came to grace because of the buzz and invitations of friends. Inviting people i so important but now people are coming back because of significance. God is doing significant things in our hearts. Thanks God.
  • Last week we had some warm weather and we got to hang out with our neighbors on the best street in America. We love our neighbors, can not wait for warm weather and cookouts! BOOOOOOOO WINTER!
  • Go Eagles, my playoff hope!
  • check this commercial out from New Spring Church / AMAZING COMMERCIAL!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

she is a MESS

I have an older responsible daughter named Kozbi but this girl is a MESS. Kelyn is a mess and with her dad with her this weekend she has managed to...
  1. go to timeout at least 15 times for hitting someone
  2. sit down in the road and get her pants soaked while we were puddle hopping outside after rain
  3. pick up a bottle of Fred Flinstone vitamins and eat like 8 of them...WOW
  4. take a permanent marker and color her hands and get some on our coffee table, still on the hands, it is off the table!
I love this girl, she keeps us HOPPING!

great season for Titans TERRIBLE way to end it!

MAN, that was a terrible way to end the season for the Titans. Just got through watching the game with some friends at our place and we all just were in shock mode after the game. This one hurts...really bad...I hate it hurts so much. I am so proud of this team for the year we had. I said before the game if Chris Johnson went down we would lose! He goes down and and there it was a big L. A no call delay of game at the end of the game and 2 fumbles in the red zone also killed us. The Ravens did what they had to do. Props to them. I hope they get beat like a drum next week. Let me say...Good job Defense, good job offensive line, good job Kerry Collins.

The off season starts now, lets resign Kerry and # 92 and lets get a new weapon at receiver and try again in August. Go Titans! Great year, HARD loss...

Friday, January 9, 2009

living with your head up...

The Bible is such an amazing book. Every time I pick it up I find stuff that blows me away. Reading it is one of those things that is a challenge for all of us because we just have a hard time making it a priority. In the past I found myself reading it asking God if He could show me things that would help me know him better, love Him more, see Him more clearly. I was reading it with my head down and focusing on my own needs. I was asking God to reveal things for my life, that I needed. There is so much there for our lives in the pages of the Bible, but there is so much more God wants us to discover. I have been trying to read the Bible with my head up. Looking outward and inward. Asking God to show me each day I read it to show me something I can give away to others. Asking God, what about this verse will help me serve others, love others, give to others. God does not just want to shape our inward life, He is passionate about the life we live out. Scripture should shape the actions we take each day. It should bring change that reveals itself in the choices we make. Lets read it with our heads up...looking...aware God is at work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

what other youth pastors never tell ya!

There are so many things that youth pastors do not talk to each other about. Not sure why! Maybe we just want to talk about all the good stuff God is doing because in private we all get frustrated with the hard parts of serving in a student ministry. These are those, WHY DID NO ONE EVERY TELL ME THAT moments. They are big, we just forget how significant they are so as they creep up I am going to blog about them. Here is the latest one...

January 1, of whatever year you are in will GREATLY effect the momentum of the ministry you lead.

We had our first night back since fall last night. It was a great night. Really, God was at work. The new series, the band, lifegroups went well. This is what was different last night. Every year, in every student ministry I have led the kids come back from Christmas break and they are in the MID YEAR FUNK. In years past when January came I would run to my office after the student gathering and want to QUIT wondering what happened! What did we do wrong! I promise I picked up on it last night. It is just hard for teens to engage. There are so many factors for our community BUT no matter what, things are different when Christmas break is over and it is like this every year. Fall is an amazing time of the year with tons of natural energy and momentum in the lives of teens. Make the most of it and be ready to deal with the different vibe in January. It just takes a few weeks to gain the momentum back and it will never be as strong in January- May as it is in September. Ministry in January-May has some great opportunities but also different challenges. Just be ready for it!

dream bigger

What are some of the dreams you have for the student ministry (church, organizations, etc.) you lead? What are you praying your students will become? What kind of vision of you casting for your teens to go after? I think many of our dreams for the student ministries we lead center on filling up a room, having lots of baptisms, pulling off good events, and keeping the crowd excited about what we are doing. Why do I say this? I was there! I was all about taking the next step...reaching the next is a worthy cause but is it really a compelling dream for teens to go after with all of their life. Most of us cast the vision of come and change your behavior, enjoy your youth group time, and stay away from the bad stuff in the "world". Kids learn that being a follower of Christ is about coming to events, classes, camps, retreats, and it all is so safe. Following Christ looks like a manageable "part" of life.

One of the ideas we are experimenting with and carrying out at relevant is calling kids to a bigger dream, the dream Jesus had for His followers. It is a risky dream. It comes with cost. It might be hard BUT asking kids to invest their lives in things that matter is really what each of their hearts long for. We all long to see our life count, to stand out, to do something that is significant. This month we are freeing our small groups up to adopt causes (bloodwater, International Justice Mission, fixing the Homeless problem, Toms Shoes etc...). The kids get to pray as a group and go after the cause they want to fight for. It flows from their heart! This month we are going to do a huge benefit concert to raise money for Cancer research...why...why not just hold a rally with some games and a speaker that makes kids feel guilty and promise to do stuff. BECAUSE CANCER KILLS KIDS EVERY DAY AND CANCER SUCKS AND WE CAN FIGHT THIS FLIPPING DISEASE and our faith demands we take action. Jesus is calling us to care more about compassion that our "youth room" our extreme winter conference, our little party. Events are not bad, youth rooms are not bad, but Jesus is calling us to influence a generation for His fame and His plan.

So I ask...what are the teens your leading dreaming about. Lets dream some big dreams! Lets allow teens to make a difference. Lets lead teens to the gospel and then release them to LIVE the gospel!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

what are you for?

Swerve is a blog I continually gain insight from. Craig Groeschel is an amazing pastor an leader here in the United States and someone you need to look into and learn from. If you are a leader you have to be a learner and this is a guy has some amazing insight. I am so passionate about shaping organizations and creating environments and I have always felt it is small to define what we are by screaming to others what we are not and throwing rocks at other organizations. Go add to your blog list and enjoy...check this post out from Craig, GREAT thought!

Who Cares What You’re Not?

While traveling, I listened to podcasts from three of the most well respected pastors in the U.S. All three started by explaining what their church was not. I’ll paraphrase what they said.

Pastor One: “We never water down our message. We don’t preach a seeker sensitive message.”

Pastor Two: “How many of you have been to boring, dead, traditional churches? Churches like that shouldn’t even exist! I’ve got some news for you! We’re not your grandma’s church!”

Pastor Three: “We don’t preach topical-feel-good, entertainment sermons at this church. Most churches are into tickling ears and making people feel good about themselves, but that’s not us!”

My Rant: I’m thrilled you are passionate about your style of teaching and church! It is very likely a true reflection of your gifts and calling. I pray God blesses your church in every way.

But don’t build your church on what you’re not!

If you do, you’re training the people at your church to believe your way is best and everyone else’s is inferior. Who cares what you’re not?! Be who you are without making others look like they are less.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

what do we do with our denominations?

Perry Noble wrote the other day on his blog that denominations (I am paraphrasing this) are DONE, on the way out, lost. That is a strong statement. (Perry is never afraid to make strong statements and I so respect him) It does seem that most denominations in our country are trying to protect their institutions and traditions instead of advancing the Kingdom of God. Now please hear me, I have friends who work for denominational organizations that are very passionate about seeing the fame of Jesus spread all over this country and our small planet. I am not sure what denominations will look like in years to come but if they want to be useful these organizations are going to have to be willing to restructure in order to support the local church and mission work around the world. Ed Stetzer had this to say in the Tennessean today, I thought it was great insight...

Stemming SBC Membership Decline

LifeWay Research recently reported that the SBC had declined in membership. The SBC growth rate has been slowing for decades but last year was the first year of decline in a long while--but trends say that more will follow.

The SBC I care about is in decline. Yes, it's part demographics (i.e. we're historically rural and such regions are in numeric decline) and ultimately changes have to be made at a local church level. But, many believe there are issues the convention can acknowledge and address to help turn around the decline. Denying the facts won't help, nor will a theological left turn, but there are things that need to change to reverse the decline.

When the news came out, some in the SBC stuck their heads a bit deeper in sand saying, "We're doing just fine, thank you!" They believe trying harder without change is best. Besides, they say, the SBC is not shrinking as fast as liberal denominations--which seems to me like bragging that our sunset is brighter than theirs.

On the other hand, some "finger waggers" will propose that the answer is to move leftward theologically. Yet, regardless of one's theological views (and that is important), no evidence exists to support that a leftward shift will grow a denomination--generally, the more liberal a denomination is, the faster it is declining.

Yet, a growing number of us believe that change is needed in the SBC. Let me suggest a few of those needed changes.

First and most importantly, the SBC must refocus on the gospel. The convention has become big, bureaucratic, and distracted by so many things--from politics to boycotts to programs. In the process, we have, at times, lost the focus on what was once the main thing: being, doing, and telling the good news locally and globally. We must return to our "first love" (Rev. 2:4), Jesus, and then show and share his message. We need gospel change.

Second, the SBC must address the continued loss of leaders. Ongoing denominational conflict has hastened the depopulation of young leaders. Furthermore, ethnic leadership remains mostly absent after decades of ethnic change in America.

Yet, such change will require an openness to other approaches to church and ministry from different cultures and generations. Openness will be difficult since preaching against other ways of doing church still gets the "big amen" at the SBC meeting-- even though the "Amen Corner" is getting older and smaller every year. If we share a common theology, we need to hold out a chair and ask new generations and ethnicities to sit at the table of leadership. We need leadership change.

Finally, infighting must not define the SBC. It is public knowledge that Baptists do not always settle their differences amicably at the convention or local church level. If "Baptist" and "bad-tempered" are synonyms to the average American, the trend toward decline will only accelerate. We need a heart change.

Can the tide be stemmed? Yes. Will it? Realistically, the "odds" are against it. But, I am one who believes that if we obey God's leading, He can continue to use even an imperfect people like Southern Baptists.

Monday, January 5, 2009

what do I value?

I know some of you get tired of me saying this but here goes once again...I love serving here at Grace Community. For anyone out there who goes to GCC you know Sunday was an amazing day and an amazing gathering to start 2009. Ron said a short statement in the middle of the message that really stuck in my mind yesterday. You can hear the entire message on our podcast at The statement was simple and short but it is still bumping around in my head today. Ron said the our values shape our behavior. We "do" or "engage" or "support" things we value.

How we value health determines our work out plan for 2009.
The value we place on money determines how generous we will be in 2009.
How we value our wife determines how we communicate with her!
How I value the Titans determines if they will be Baltimore Saturday....oops that slipped out!

The incredible thing about this line of thinking is that we get to influence what we value. We can choose to place value on what we want and God allows us to choose. I can choose to value my time with God. I can choose to value other people. I can choose to value things that do not come naturally to me that God is calling me to value. Maybe instead of working on our 2009 goals we should first examine what we hope to give value to in our life first then make the goals. Just something to think about...

Friday, January 2, 2009

that place everyone talks about...

Hooked on this show on the food network. One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Bell Buckle Cafe in Bell Buckle TN, a place just like you see on the show. Guy needs to visit Bell Buckle! There are some things that stand out about all the places the show is what I am seeing.
  1. somebody had a dream to do things "their way" and started a new restaurant
  2. every "dive" started with a risk...there is not a shortage of restaurants anywhere!
  3. every "dive" does something unique that makes it stand out
  4. every "dive" has a few things they do and do well, none of them do EVERYTHING!
  5. people who come say they have a great experience each time they come back
  6. people tell others about the amazing food they get at the restaurant, the product is real!
  7. the "dives" stay packed because they deliver and because PEOPLE CAN NOT STOP TELLING OTHERS ABOUT IT!
Ok ok ok...we need some youth ministries, children's ministries, college ministries, and church plants to watch this show and think about what they can do to stand out. YES I AM BEING SERIOUS! Here is an idea...we need God to give us unique visions for the unique cites, and unique cultures we serve and we need to be willing to take the risk to make it happen. What about what you do stands out as SPECIAL or UNIQUE to the ministry you lead. I know there is balance, I strive to learn from others and look for what WORKS all the time. I have implemented some great things from other ministries in our church and family ministry BUT nothing makes me more excited than when God shows our team something unique that we need to implement for our local environment! When you can look at something that works at your place that is unique is the moment you get to throw your hands up and give GOD the credit. That really is the goal...God gets the credit!

So....what makes your "dive" stand out? I am done here I am going to finish this episode on food network!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

how long is too long...

Happy New Year everybody! 2009 is here and I am very excited about the challenges of a new year. I have been watching football all day. I am a huge college football fan and this week of bowls is GREAT, I love every minute of it and the only thing that could make it better would be a college football playoff. I want to see USC play again against Florida or Texas!

Watching the Rose Bowl today and watching Joe Paterno coach from the press box, never coming to the field during pregame, never going to the locker room at the half, never interacting with his team, made me ask as a leader how long is too long. Can a great leader stay too long at the helm of an organization, a team, a company, a church? I feel leaders can stay too long. Leaders never stop leading but our titles and roles change and must change as we age. There is an art to passing on leadership to the next generation. There is a time to move on and age is only one factor. The roles we have are a gift from God and from the people we lead. None of us get to say we have earned our position and we get to stay as long as we like. That way of thinking places our wants and wishes ahead of the organization. All of us need to finish strong and we need to plan to finish strong! If we are blessed to lead an organization long enough we also need to pray through how we empower the next leader also. SO, can a leader stay too long? what do ya think? Has Coach Paterno stayed too long?