Thursday, February 28, 2013

Discipleship = Everything

We can't selectively follow Christ only in the areas of life of our choosing.
From "Be the Church"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls - by Kate Conner

Exceptional post by Kate Conner.

Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls

1.  If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys.  To be more specific, you will attract the kind of boys that like to look down girls’ shirts.  If you want to date a guy who likes to look at other girls’ boobs and chase skirts, then great job; keep it up.  If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling.  All attention is not equal.  You think you want attention, but you don’t.  You want respect.  All attention is not equal.

2. Don’t go to the tanning bed.  You’ll thank me when you go to your high school reunion and you look like you’ve been airbrushed and then photoshopped compared to the tanning bed train wrecks formerly known as classmates – well, at least next to the ones that haven’t died from skin cancer.

3.  When you talk about your friends “anonymously” on Facebook, we  know exactly who you’re talking about.  People are smarter than you think they are.  Stop posting passive-aggressive statuses about the myriad of ways your friends disappoint you.
4. Newsflash: the number of times you say “I hate drama” is a pretty good indicator of how much you love drama.  Non-dramatic people don’t feel the need to discuss all the drama they didn’t start and aren’t involved in.

5.  “Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever. 

6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being.  Emotion is good; it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Emotion makes us better – so long as it remains in it’s proper place: subject to truth and reason.

7.  Smoking is not cool.

8.  Stop saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.”  First of all, that’s not true.  And second of all, if it is true, you need a perspective shift.  Your reputation matters – greatly.  You should care what people think of you.

9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention.  Don’t pretend something is too heavy so that a boy will carry it for you.  Don’t play dumb to stroke someone’s ego.  Don’t bat your eyelashes in exchange for attention and expect to be taken seriously, ever.  You can’t have it both ways.  Either you show the world that you have a brain and passions and skills, or you don’t.  There are no damsels in distress managing corporations, running countries, or managing households.  The minute you start batting eyelashes, eyelashes is all you’ve got.

10.  You are beautiful.  You are enough.  The world we live in is twisted and broken and for your entire life you will be subjected to all kinds of lies that tell you that you are not enough.  You are not thin enough.  You are not tan enough.  You are not smooth, soft, shiny, firm, tight, fit, silky, blonde, hairless enough.  Your teeth are not white enough.  Your legs are not long enough.  Your clothes are not stylish enough.  You are not educated enough.  You don’t have enough experience.  You are not creative enough.

There is a beauty industry, a fashion industry, a television industry, (and most unfortunately) a pornography industry: and all of these have unique ways of communicating to bright young women: you are not beautiful, sexy, smart or valuable enough.

You must have the clarity and common sense to know that none of that is true. None of it.

You were created for a purpose, exactly so.  You have innate value.  You are loved more than you could ever comprehend; it is mind-boggling how much you are adored.  There has never been, and there will never be another you.  Therefore, you have unique thoughts to offer the world.  They are only yours, and we all lose out if you are too fearful to share them.

You are beautiful.  You are valuable.  You are enough.

(Read “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Boys” here.)
(Read last year’s “Ten Things I Want To Tell New Moms” here.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

10 Hard Questions - Tim Stevens

Some really good stuff below from Tim Stevens.

10 Hard Questions Every Planter Needs to Ask

Granger Community Church recently celebrated our 25th year (in December 2011). For a quarter of a century now, we’ve been a mission outpost in our community. We’ve seen thousands of people come to Jesus, get baptized and begin new, changed lives. The impact has been undeniable. And yet in February 2010, we looked at each other and asked a hard question: Is the sheer number of “unchurched” people in our area any less than it was 25 years ago before Granger existed?

Our honest answer? No. Many years ago, a report was released indicating that 50 percent of our county did not attend church. A recent report indicates the number is now 60 percent. We hadn’t even kept up with the population growth or net loss from the decline of other churches.

Yes, we were having an impact on individuals, and thousands of lives had been changed. But we weren’t making a dent in actually changing a growing percentage of our community into mission-minded followers of Jesus.

The Shrinking 40 Percent

We weren’t alone. Every current poll I’ve seen indicates the American church is in decline. Yes, the number of large churches is increasing, but overall church attendance continues to go down. The way we do church—the model of Christendom that has been followed for the past 1,700 years—is working with fewer people all the time. Most people reading this are the product of the type of church that is, as a whole, becoming less and less effective.

Just about every church in America can be described by three words: “Come to us.” That is it. We put on amazing services and do everything we can to communicate truth to the people who make the effort to come to “the box” for worship. Some boxes are beautiful, and others are utilitarian. Some boxes are ornate with stained glass and a pipe organ, and others are located in an empty Walmart. But most of what we do is at, through and around “the box.” Many times even the mercy and justice ministries we engage in outside the walls are done for the primary purpose of inviting people to “come to the box.”

I remember being at a leadership conference where Alan Hirsch was teaching through the main thesis of his watershed book, The Forgotten Ways. We had opportunity to ask questions, push back and consider the practical application for our churches. Alan said he believed that this “come to us” model of church still works for around 40 percent of our population. Does that mean 40 percent attend? Not at all. But there is probably around 40 percent of the population for whom the model still works. We can put on great weekend services, and 40 percent of the people in our community are still attracted to, or at least not repelled by, that model.

Is that a scientific number? No. Is there any research to back up that number? No. But I believe it to my core. We have asked scores of people in our church whether they think it is accurate. To make it easy to consider, we put it this way: “If you were to invite 10 people to come to church with you, how many of them do you think would consider your invitation?” Over and over, they agree that it is probably no more than four people.
Maybe the number is much lower in the Northeast or Northwest. Maybe it’s much higher in the Bible Belt states. But every pastor I have talked to agrees that the number, whatever it is, is shrinking. Whatever you decide the number is for your community, it is likely getting smaller every year.

I remember a LifeWay Research survey, which found that “… a growing number of Americans are recognizing a need to develop their inner life … but many don’t know where to begin, especially if they don’t consider themselves ‘religious.’ Even if they are religious, many haven’t found everything they’re seeking in weekly services.”  The article went on to report that 86 percent said they could have a “good relationship with God without belonging to a church.” I used that quote scores of times in talks I gave around the country in 2008 and early 2009. But, I don’t think the impact of that trend hit me hard until I was sitting with Rob [Wegner] listening to Alan talk at that conference. It was the first time I really considered the impact of the shrinking 40 percent.

The Growing 60 Percent
Everyone who is not in the shrinking 40 percent is part of the growing 60 percent. These are people who might believe in God (whatever that means for them), have a respect for Jesus and are on a spiritual journey, but they don’t consider the church (as we know it) as a resource to help them take steps. And it is likely they never will. They pursue their spirituality through culture, friendships, music, TV personalities, their own study of the Bible, self-help books and more. A study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted in early 2010 reports, “… more than a quarter of Americans born after 1981 have no religious preference or affiliation. Fewer than one in five teens and 20-somethings frequent worship services” But the study also revealed that young adults pray as often as their elders did at that age and share an equally strong faith in God. More and more young adults are pursuing their faith outside of the church.

We can argue the percentage. You may not believe it is as high as 60 percent. But whatever the number, it is growing.

As our Granger leadership faced the truth that we weren’t making any real impact in the 60 percent of the population around us, it seemed we had a choice to make:
  1. We could continue to pour our lives and efforts and largest share of our ministry focus and dollars into reaching the 40 percent. Nothing wrong with that. Pure statistics show there are 62,000 people within five miles of one of our campuses who don’t go to church and who are part of the 40 percent. That’s a bunch of people who very well might be open to exploring their spirituality with us in a service. So on a relational level, we could continue to encourage our people to do everything they could to build relationships with a friend and start spiritual conversations, hoping to lead them toward a chance when they can invite them to a service where they will hear how much they matter to God?  That was certainly an option. We could probably do “successful” ministry for years with this group. But eventually, the statistical reality would catch up. And we’d be spending more money and time with decreasing effectiveness.
  2. Another viable option: Leave the institutional church. Forget the “come and see,” attractional approach. It’s reaching a smaller and smaller percentage every year, right? It’s a dying breed. So why spend any more time there? Let’s be missional. Let’s go to the masses. If the 60/40 hypothesis is true, then let’s go to the more than 93,000 within five miles of our physical sites who don’t go to church and who likely will never go to church as we know it. These are people who are taking spiritual steps but need help. They are people who need to know how much they matter to God and how much they matter to the church. So we would be encouraging people to be the love of Jesus right where people live, in a culture they know best where God has given them influence, and be the church with them, right there, where they live.
It seemed like these were our choices. It has to be one or the other, right? I’d never heard of a church doing both effectively. I’ve heard of great churches reaching the 40 percent and a few small but effective ministries reaching the 60 percent—but I’d never heard of any church doing both.

[Note: Tim Stevens continues the story behind the story of how Granger has championed both attractional and missional, and the impact of the both/and combination in the 2012 release Vision: Lost and Found available for purchase here.]

10 Hard Questions Every Leader Should Be Asking

Every church leader serious about making disciples should be asking themselves the same hard questions Granger leadership asked:
1. Is the sheer number of “unchurched” people in our area any less than it was before we existed?
2. Is the way we do church more effective or less effective in reaching people and making true disciples since we began?
3. Is most of what we do at, through and around “the box”?
4. (survey your congregation): “If you were to invite 10 people to come to church with you, how many of them do you think would consider your invitation?”
5. Am I as a leader content with reaching just the 40 percent that will still consider a “come to us” approach? Is our church?
6. Do I want to reach the growing 60 percent that won’t respond to “come and see” ministry? Does our church?
7. If so, is our church equipped and ready to reach the 60 percent?
8. What should I as a leader do next?
9. What steps should we as a church take?
10. Am I as a leader praying, “God, open my eyes”? Am I leading our church in the same prayer?

What is Love?

Below is a short but powerful video on love.

What Is Love? from cvcnow on Vimeo.

Do marriage vows seem to mean as much today as they used to? If you've heard anything about the increase in divorce rates, you may wonder.

Bill & Glad are ignoring the trends. More than ever the vows they made 50 years ago are being tested. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, the promise they are keeping is a true example of what love is.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What women really think about your facial hair?

I (obviously) don't endorse the following video as a guide in my life. But it is funny!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lecrae raps the Gospel

Lecrae is the real deal.  Incredibly gifted rapper with the best part being his Gospel focus!

Lecrae Raps the Gospel in One Minute from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jack White on Love Interruption and Freedom at the Grammys

Jack White was the highlight of the Grammys last night in my opinion. First song is "Love Interrupted" with his all girl band. The Second one is "Freedom at 21" with his all guy band.  And I want to know where Jack got that black with blue "peacock" jacket!?!?