Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Worthwhile Read

Two books I read in the last couple of weeks worth mentioning. The Shack by William Young has been a bestseller and has received acclaim as well as criticism... but I have to say it was one of the most significant books I've read in years. You can't build your entire belief system around it but it is very special in its ability to portray the heart of God and His love for us. I highly recommend.

The other is written by James Chuang of San Diego. The book is titled True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In. This is one of those books that may have impacted me simply because of the timing... I might not have looked at it twice 5 years ago... but right now it was very special. The author takes a very "Kingdom" approach to evangelism with a strong focus on social justice as a Kingdom principle. He also develops in the book an evangelism strategy and model that seems like it would be particularly effective with the social justice crowd... (which here in San Diego is a large part of who God is sending us). Again, a worthwhile read.

Both of these are easy reads... the kind you can knock out in a couple of nights... and both are books I will read again with a notepad in hand.

Its Official... We're a church!

Wow... are we close... a little over 2 weeks to launching our new church. I got the paperwork today from Vineyard... we are signed, sealed and delivered...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Church Culture

Even inside our church movement it seems we are overly focused on new emergant/emerging theories and models. We work very hard to be current (or hip).

I must admit that I believe much of our hoopla over post-modernity and emerging philosophy is a fad. Every generation has experienced some level of rejection of its parents values and has fought for a revolution of sorts. And now its targeting the church. But the church is resilient... and does change, albeit slowly. The very natural flow of things is for the church to trail culture just a bit but it is turning with culture a generation at a time. The type of church I grew up in during the 60's and 70's no longer exists (much to my parents dismay). Simply because of the evolutionary nature of the church. Church is now run by leaders who grew up in a different culture with different worldviews and mindsets than my parents did... and the leaders that follow me will also bring with them their worldviews and values. And the church will change... and adapt.

My point is, don't try so hard to be post-modern... or to be cool. Just do what you do the way you do it... do what God told you to do... and nothing more... and nothing less. There is room in the culture for the way you were made...

Culture always has a front edge and a back edge and there are people at every point in between. And they all need Jesus. You do not have to force yourself into a poorly fitting mold to be relevant... just serve the people that are drawn to you and the culture of the church will take care of itself. GOD will present her...

Counter Culture?

Still thinking about the last comments about the counter-culture church. I don't actually read the gospels and see counter-culture as the theme. Jesus seemed to work from within the culture. He maintained his jewish lifestyle including temple worship. In Matthew 26 Jesus asserts that he sat in the temple courts everyday to teach. He told stories that were relevant culturally to make his point.

I think we will have more impact working from within the existing culture than establishing a counter-culture. A counter-culture movement creates a bubble that the culture can ignore as a freak show. But kingdom people salted through the existing systems can actually change culture. You can't change what you're not involved with.

Love For the Bride

It seems like every book on the church that I read anymore is angry... that it perceives the church to be so broken that it just needs to be blown up and rebuilt ground up. There is an element of counter-culture and revolution in this ideology.

We have forgotten who the church is... the bride of Christ... his beloved.

I am fully aware of the faults in my wife... but I love here completely. I can talk to her and encourage her to change in some way and she will respond because she know she is loved as she is. But if somebody else is critical or points out her flaws then I am incensed and rise up to protect her.

Ephesians 5:25-27
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Who does the correcting? Who washes her and cleanses her and prepares her? Christ does... he makes her blameless and without blemish... she doesn't do it on her own. And Christ is the only one who can... he's the one who loves her enough to change her gently.

If we don't love the church the way Jesus loves the church then we don't have the privelage to criticize or correct her. Fix the part you are involved in but be gentle and loving toward the body or your voice rings hollow.

Change of Plans

Prov 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.

I was talking to a local pastor who is struggling a little with how we are to let God 'build the house' and the role we play in strategizing and planning. I think I have a better answer for that than I ever have. I have been much that way in the past... a problem solver... feeling like I had to fix everything and pursue a well defined plan in order to build a church. But the truth is that I was rarely as successful as I expected to be... falling short each time of the vision God had given me. And yet feeling like we were off course if the plans got changed.

It is becoming clear to me that we are to plan and strategize everything in our power... and then pray and expect God to intervene and change our plans. To celebrate him changing them. Because if he doesn't change them we are simply limited to the best we can figure out and accomplish on our own...and I have already proven that the best I can accomplish will still have limited impact. But if he does change my plans then we are beginning to function at a supernatural level and have superceded our own abilities and talents.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

This is what I moved for...

This was a very special week in the life of South Bay Vineyard Church. On Saturday we had 15 people show up at the San Diego Food Bank in north county. In a little over 90 minutes we were able to assemble and pack 500 food boxes to be delivered to seniors in need throughout San Diego.

Then later that same afternoon we went to Crown Point in Mission Bay Park. There we had the pleasure of baptizing three of our friends into the body of Christ...
They also have the distinction of being the first baptisms performed by our young church making it doubly exciting. We then celebrated with food and play and great stories of what God is doing.

This week is the debut of "The Powder Room". The girls are trying to one-up the guys...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Our regular Sunday evening gathering this weekend experienced a powerful move of God.

As we began to pray for healing over one of our members the presence of God was very heavy. Pockets of ministry began to break out all over the room as people would begin to weep and others would rally around them. This continued for several hours... just as I would think we were finished it would start back up again.

Most exciting of all was that three people made public first time commitments to Christ.

We will be celebrating these decisions with baptism in Mission Bay on Saturday.

Road Trip

This past Sunday morning we loaded up around 14 people and drove the 2 hour trip to the Anaheim Vineyard Church. I was hoping it would give everyone a much bigger picture and vision than what we could communicate in our little home church.

The affect was much greater than I had hoped... the sense of connection to the larger body was powerful and impacted them more than I could have imagined.

During the worship time several of our group began to weep as the Holy Spirit moved on them. The teaching itself felt like it was prepared for us... about the importance of each member of the body... and each one that we took received personal ministry during the ministry time.

When we got everybody together later that evening each one shared what they had seen and experienced. Some reported feeling weak in the knees and a 'lightness' in their body. Others talked of uncontrollable tears. One said he felt 'electricity' go through his body when he received prayer... but all came away saying "Let's do this here in San Diego."


Our infant church is enjoying a great sense of momentum here in south San Diego.

Most of the people who have been gathering with us these few weeks have little previous church background and almost all of them indicated they had never imagined themselves involved in church.

Now just 6 weeks into it those same people are complaining that its too long between Sunday's and have been the catalysts for two new mid-week discipleship groups.

We are still looking towards the Fall for a formal launch but we are in full church building mode already and seeing God do incredible things in some wonderful people.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Community in the Making

We have hit the ground running here in San Diego. The boxes are mostly unpacked and we are already seeing God move in natural and supernatural ways.

We have had two group gathering events at my home this month. Our first gathering had eleven people... a few of which had virtually no church background at all. We focused primarily on building relationships and shared a meal together. The following meeting added another person and was much more spiritual... there were a few minutes of teaching around our vision for serving people followed by a very sweet time of prayer.

One of our new friends told me following the second meeting that this was the closest thing to a family she had experienced and to count her "in".

Chris Self told the group about a couple that he had met that were going through a hard time and the group decided to put the 'serving' part of the church vision into action... so we will serve the couple next weekend by preparing them dinner. One of the neat things about this simple act of service is that a number of additional people have already heard about it and asked if they could help (including a professional 5 star chef). We are now hoping to see a significant impact beyond just the people being served.

Our plans are to add an additional midweek meeting this month and will continue to meet on Sunday evenings as a home group. We are aiming at public services by mid-September.

I want to say thank you to all of you who supported our move. Your send-off was encouraging to us all and very appreciated. And we are grateful to those of you who continue to contribute to this vision. Pray specifically over the next few weeks for favor as we look for a meeting facility.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Here We Go!

We are currently busy packing the house and will be loading a moving truck this weekend. We should be in California by the end of next week!

Even though we have been looking forward to this moment for months we find ourselves with mixed emotions. The last five years have been satisfying and fruitful and the friends we are saying goodbye to in Mississippi are dear to us. But at the same time we are excited and anxious to get started on this new adventure.

I LOVE CHANGE! In my mind I see the purpose of a church as an agent of change... in individuals... and in the larger community they serve. And this is the theme that has shaped my dream of a new church in Chula Vista, California. A church that affects change by demonstrating the love of Christ through extreme acts of service, radical acceptance and supernatural power.

Many of you have asked how you can be involved. There is simply no way we can succeed in this without your help. If you want to commit to regular prayer and/or financial support for this new church let me know by email and I will add you to a 'Foundations Team' email list keeping you informed of our specific needs.
(Or, if you prefer, click on Update Profile/Email Address and add yourself to the 'Foundations Team' mailing list).

We really enjoy receiving your emails. They are such an encouragement to us!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What Evangelism Isn't

** From Christianity Today**
By far the greatest danger in apologetics is being distracted from the main message. Evangelism is not defending the virgin birth or defending the historicity of the resurrection. Apologetics is defending the faith, answering the questions others have about Christianity. It is responding to the agenda that others set. Evangelism, however, is following Christ's agenda, the news about him. Evangelism is the positive act of telling the good news about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through him. Read More