Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Few Christmas Thoughts

Christmas was different this year, a lot different. The main reason... we have a 6-month old little girl. This changes everything. It's fun. We get to live Christmas through her eyes. Except... she's 6-months old. She'd rather eat the paper than see what's inside the box.

As much as we talk about Jesus being born at Christmas, it's really weird for me to think of Jesus as a baby. I mean, I know what 6-month olds do!

Think about it (here's what I know of my baby):

1) AvaRae drools a lot. Nothing deep or theological here, just interesting to think of Jesus drooling as a baby (and no, I don't think that is sacrilegious).

2) AvaRae makes a lot of interesting noises. The other day, we were enjoying a nice time of family prayer and AvaRae decided she needed to added her two "scents" (it was more like ten "scents", and everyone heard it loud and clear).

3) AvaRae is definitely advanced :). I wonder if Jesus' parents thought he was advanced... Just think about it. (I wonder when they finally found out how true this was.)

4) AvaRae is a cute cuddly baby.

I once had a professor in college give us an assignment. He told us to come back next class and tell him what the greatest miracle ever was. We all came back to class thinking we had the right answer. Creation, parting the Red Sea, raising the dead... the resurrection of Jesus! We were all wrong. The greatest most amazing miracle of all was that God became one of us and was born as a baby, the incarnation. This one miracle alone tells us just about everything we need to know about our amazing God. Think about it.

"[God/Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:14 (NIV)
"You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:12 (NIV)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vision! What is it?

If you run in leadership circles at all you hear the word "vision" a lot! And as used up a word as it may be, we can never escape it's importance. The truth is, we die without vision (Don't believe me? Read this.). Vision matters!

I used to think vision was slippery, hard to get a handle on, but lately I've come to see vision in a very practical way. Vision is simply something God places in your heart to do. That's it, that's vision! (Don't believe me again? Read this.)

Here's some of the vision God has given us... We believe God has called us to launch a church that is super solid theologically. God wrote a book, it's called the Bible, it's our manual. At the same time, we believe God has called us to connect with culture. This means speaking a language people understand, designing worship services and worship space so that people who aren't used to church will feel at home and in the process encounter a real God. We believe it's possible to have a solid Christian church that is simple, understandable, and relevant all at the same time. (Remember that old line where they would say, "It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No. It’s Superman!” I think people are going to say, “It’s a concert! It’s a worship service! No. It’s Jesus!”)

We want to create a church where it is crystal clear what it means to find Jesus, pursue Jesus, and live for Him (Helping people find, pursue, and live for Jesus.). We believe people want to connect with God they just don't know how - we want to change that. We want to break the rules, the kinds of rules that say 20% of the people do 80% of the work. We want to break the kinds of rules that say you can't go deep (depth of teaching) and wide (reach the unchurched) at the same time. We want to be simple... and effective.

We believe it's possible (and would be God honoring) to launch with 200+ people. We believe it's possible (and would be God honoring) to launch with multiple staff (or the closest thing to it). And we believe it is fully possible (and would be incredibly God honoring) to spin off another church within two years. We believe it's possible to see lives changed daily and people regularly coming to Christ. We believe we (God) can change a community... and a city.

...But, I guess this is all just stuff God has placed in our hearts to do so who knows if it'll actually happen. Oh, wait. That's what vision is, it's stuff that God places in your heart to do. And if it's something God has placed in your heart to do, then I guess you'd better get ready.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Next Level

It's time to take things to the next level... are you ready?

I was feeling a little frustrated today so I decided to do something I haven't done in a while - I hopped on the tread mill and took off. It wasn't long into it that I realized I really was in as bad of shape as I suspected (by the way, don't try to take your shirt off while still running on the treadmill - bad idea). I also realized I've been coasting (in a lot of ways, but especially physically). I've known I needed to do something about it, but I haven't. Today, I had had enough, it was time to take it to the next level.

Jesus was constantly challenging people to take it to the next level. He challenged the disciples to get out of their boat and follow him into a new future. He challenged the religious to lose their religion and find the heart of it all. He called the crowds to the next level when he taught that if they wanted to truly find life, they needed to lose themselves in a cause greater than themselves.

It’s time! It's time to stop coasting. It’s time to take things to the next level with this new church! Are you ready?

We’ve been meeting for several months now, pulling together a team and now it’s time to get rolling. January 6 we’ll have one last key Pre-Launch Gathering. We’ll once again tackle vision questions, discuss our strategy, and lay out a Launch Team Covenant. This is the point in what we’re doing when everyone decides how committed they are and how much they believe God is calling them to this and how much they believe in the vision. This is where we start to lean in; this is where it starts to get exciting!

We really want as many of you on the team as possible, but you need to engage.

January 6 – Pre-Launch Gathering: talking about vision, strategy, Launch Team Covenant
January 13 – Shindig ’08: relationship building @ the Hosslers
January 20 – Kickoff of Weekly Launch Team Meetings!

Guys, it is going to be great! God has given us the challenge and privilege of starting a new kind of church, one that is Biblically solid and connects with culture. Man, I cannot tell you how amazing this new church is going to be!

Pray like crazy! Lean in! Here we go!

(I'll be posting a little later in the week a little bit more about mission, vision, and values for ? church.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Josh's Favorite Things

Had a great night of team building tonight as 26 of us (counting the wee ones) of us got together to talk and dream some more about the kind of church God has given us a vision for. It was hilarious to get to know all the strange little things that people enjoy. Tim Joye shared some thoughts about being connecting to other believers and encouraging each other. Then, yours truly, kicked the night of by sharing a few of my favorite things... Oprah Style (and yes, everyone went home with gifts... Milky Way Candy Bar, McDonalds Dollar, and a can of Mt. Dew).

Honestly though, the night wasn't the blow out we had hoped for. It's hard (even though it's important (even critical!)), to take the time necessary to build the foundation. Right now we're building the foundation. But, it's going to be a great foundation. (I'm excited about the people on the team!)

We also just took some time tonight to dream. We said, "Can you imagine what the next year or two are going to look like?!" It seems every great church plant has their story. "Yeah, we started with like 3-people in an alley behind... And now look where we are!" I wonder what our story is going to be. And I wonder who's going to be in it.

God, thanks for teaching me lessons. Thanks for teaching me about the amazing resilience of Daniel, a man who turned several world empires upside down (Daniel 1-6, some really great stuff). Thank you for teaching me not to despise the day of small things (Zech. 4:10). Thank you for placing a vision inside of our hearts for a church that goes after the unchurched, that even dares to run to them (Luke 15:20) without compromising. Thank you for running to us (ie - Christmas).