“So Then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with
thankfulness.” Colossians 2.6,7
Jesus is not a “one-time” feel good experience and then we move on. He wants to invade every area of our life. He wants us to go beyond the receiving part. As I often visit people, they can leave me standing in the door, or the entrance of their homes. Yes they have allowed me in, but not really “in”. Most people invite me to the living room, or the kitchen table (my favorite), as they open their home, their personal living space to their pastor. One person told me, “strangers come to the front door, family comes to the back, you come to the back.” I love that.
Let Jesus in deeper. Paul writes here that we are to be “Rooted” with that commitment and then “built up” in him. This is the process. We are built up and strengthened in Christ every time we choose to drawn to Him. How do I do it?
- A time of solitude, silence, and reflection to hear from God.
- Some simple prayers as I follow “Handbook to prayer” by Kenneth Boa or “Day by day” by Peter Scazzero, or the “Celtic Daily Office”. One of these are used to aid my heart and my mind on Christ.
- I breath in Him and breath out me as I pray.
- I have my journal ready to write down my thoughts, impressions, and prayers.
- I follow a guide to reading my Bible. This year I wrote my own. I focus on a book or couple books for the month, re-reading them over and over.
- I read another book to spur me on.
- I listen to Scripture when often. When I walk, carve, or drive. I use an app called “Dwell”.
- I investigate my walk, my emotions, my intentions, and my motivations for purity of heart and the glory of Christ.
Some days I do this great! Some days I struggle through, yes, I even miss a day once in a while, but these disciplines strengthen me and transform my heart to be more like Christ. They change my appetite for things of God and not of this world. My roots grow deeper, my heart more grateful, my flesh weaker, and faith stronger.
As you have been saved, live for Christ and don’t skip the very things that make living for Christ incredible and enjoyable.
As I began reading Ephesians again today these two words stand out. It was a common greeting and the Apostle Paul says it to the church in Ephesus in the first part of his letter to them(we call Ephesians in the Bible).
We all love grace. Grace is the gift from others. A gift to forgive. A gift to overlook an offense, the gift to be tolerant of a short-coming. Without grace relationships are doomed. Without grace to each other, we have the potential to become cynical, spiteful, aggressively-opinionated, and even hateful.
The idea of peace, is what is experienced as we become givers or recipients of grace. Have you ever been forgiven? Have you ever let go of anger toward someone? I bet you experienced some peace. The population is seeking grace and peace. When grace is not lived, received, or experienced we have a propensity to seek peace in behaviors that can hurt and destroy us, and heap the opposite of peace, on those closest to us. Counselors call this “self-medicating.” This brings short bits of shallow peace that is really an illusion. We need real peace, and it only comes through real grace.
The grace of God, our Father is this: He sent Jesus to pay for our offenses, only because of His great love for us. Grace spiritually is like all grace. It is a gift. God’s love is a gift, as well as God’s life, his free salvation, and His presence. To have this gift you just receive by faith, saying yes to Jesus and the love of the Father, and no to everything in this world that leads us from that.
When we experience Grace from Heaven, we can then experience peace with God. It is then part of us to grant much grace to others, thus perpetuating peace on earth, and good will to men. Only in Christ, is true grace and peace able to be experienced and attained.
Grace and Peace to you and to others this day.
Tertullian of Carthage was born around A.D. 155. He had a fine education. His parents were pagan but he converted toward the end of the 2nd century to the Christian faith. He indicated that he was impressed by he attitudes and beliefs of Christianity. The courage and the determination of martyrs, their morality, and uncompromising belief in one God. He died an old man around A.D. 220.
Here we have one of his very profound sayings. This grabbed my spirit when I saw it. I am involved in a lot of funerals, death, hospice, etc. as a pastor. I see the struggles of family when a loved one they adore and love passes. I also see the struggle when a loved one who has led a pretty selfish life passes. They want to grief, and feel bad they don’t.
This begs some questions for us to contemplate.
- As you think of your decisions, your life, your habits, are they self-centered?
- How much do you sacrifice for family, your spouse, your kids?
- Do you spend your time wisely?
- Do you add value to others lives by encouraging?
- How do you speak to your family? Love, encouragement, fun, or are you letting anger, criticism, snottiness, be your normal communication?
- Are you doing anything missional for Jesus?
- Do you “die to self” and put others and the Lord first? Or is that uncommon?
God has so much for us, if we put Him first. Love others more. Be selfish less.
Mark 8:34-38 34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
As 2018 as arrived so have all the New Year’s Resolutions and goals. The gyms will be filled the next couple weeks, and more Paleo diet books and the like will be downloaded and fly off the shelves. We will pledge more time with family, less time on Netflix and social media. Thousands will announce their new goals to give up things, like sugar, smoking, gluten, etc. and sadly, most people will abandon these resolutions within a couple weeks.
But what kind of change do we really need and how can it happen? This verse in Old Testament gives us some insight of what the Lord is able to do. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36.26). True change is a change of our heart. Deep change comes from the inside out. So changing our hair and weight might be noticeable, change in our character and choices are more beneficial. These changes on the inside that manifest on the outside, make the greatest difference in our lives and the lives of those closest to us, those we love and need in our lives.
What deep change would be the greatest for you this year? More time with family? Freedom from temper? The way you talk to your spouse? How you use time and resources? Do you need free from addictions? Be less grumpy? Have more joy, less fear? The Lord can do a work in our hearts and deep change can happen through Christ if we will be humble and ask Him for help. He can give us the strength for all these kinds of changes and more.
I love the verse in Proverbs 4.23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Only the Lord can change a heart by His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Pr 4:23). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
In 1996 we left ministry in Northville Michigan to plant a church in Bedford township or Temperance, Michigan, a bordertown adjacent north to Toledo, Ohio. NCA and sent us out with love, prayer, and support in every way. It has been 21 years. I am so glad Wendy and I stepped out in faith, left the comforts of being a full-time youth pastor, and went on the journey. Today we have 2 campuses, 4 weekend gatherings, with 50+ small groups, and an amazing staff. We have built a few times, and have seen many, many people come to Christ, we have started another campus, and God is moving in lives and growing people’s faith.. Here is why I am so glad I did not “chicken” out from the challenges of church planting.
- I needed to grow in faith. I had to trust God for everything. My faith grew. I can believe God for so many things as I have seen Him so faithful. I would not have the faith I have now, if I did not plant Compelled Church.
- I struggled being bi-vocational. The struggle helped me. I had to be better with time, plan more efficiently, and think ahead. I had to budget money carefully. We learned to live on less, and not lose our joy.
- I understand the pressures and challenges of our bi-vocational pastors because I was. It is hard. No one gets how hard it is.
- My children were part of the church plant and have experienced this, and it is part of their ethos and worldview. They know God is real. The love the church, and love ministry.
- The stories! People’s lives changed by Christ. I know God would have called someone else if we would have said no to the call here, but I get the privilege of being part of the spiritual journey of many. What an honor.
- Christ is so real to me. I will never forget that this is his church. He is the head. He is in charge and He builds the church. I live at His service.
- Compelled Church has been an encouragement to other pastors and leaders. They gave in those early years, they invested, they encouraged, and their fingerprints are on Compelled. I know that encourages them to continue to help and support church planters.
- We planted another campus in Toledo. Many have come to Christ, come back to Christ and God’s people had an opportunity to be missional and believe God for another “church”. The campus pastor, Tim Rabara, was saved, discipled, and sent out from Compelled Church.
- We have also supported other church plants, taken dozens of mission trips, given hundreds of thousands to missions, because of this church plant.
- We have had the opportunity to send many into ministry and missions over the years. Dozens of young people and adults, serve in ministry in so many places. What an honor to be part of their journey.
- We have made priceless relationships in the community, as we lived here, imbedded our lives here, went to the public school here, participating in sports, and the community. God has leveraged those relationships in amazing ways. I have some amazing stories.
- I met amazing mentors that poured into my life to helped me, and speak into my life. I will forever be indebted to Dean Grabill, my brother Steve, Todd Winkler, Otis Buchan and NCA, Hugh Duncan (he never stopped encouraging me, contacting me, writing me, calling me), Dennis Clanton, Marty Eddinger, Jim Rentz, Tim Dilena, Steve Miller, Joel Stocker, Brad and Tom Trask, more friends and mentors than I can even list!
- Everyday has been an adventure, in the lives, and community of faith. I would not trade it for the world. The last 21 years have been a roller coast ride of amazing, with God’s faithfulness in each season, the great ones, and the tough ones, He is faithful.
Don’t underestimate the power and leading of God. If you want to investigate more about church planting, multi-site, shoot me a note. I would be overjoyed to invest and help in anyway I can into future planters. firstname.lastname@example.org
Some church-planting pics for fun.
We will celebrate 5 years of our Holland Location of Compelled Church on January 29th. In the last five years I have a learned a lot and so has our team. Here are some key things we have learned.
- There is not just one multi-site model-Multi-site churches do it all differently. Live, video, site pastors, pre-recorded, livestream…..on and on. The church must decide their best way, that works for them.
- The Site pastor is the key-Much has been written about this. This can’t be under-stressed. The site pastor must be a top shelf spiritual leader, growing, with character and Christ-likeness to match. He must be a loyal, gifted, extrovert with a heart for discipleship and leadership. Our’s is and we would not be celebrating 5 years without him. Thank you Tim and Amanda Rabara.
- Not everyone cares. I have learned that our Bedford Campus (first church plant), is not 100% engaged in the missional outreach of a multi-site. Many are, some even have gone there to minister, but many don’t seem interested. Good or bad, just a reality. Communicating vision, passion, and wins, continue to help that.
- People come to Christ at Multi-site. Many believers are vocal that they would never attend a multi-site or watch a video message, but they are not the targets. We are attempting with all our heart to reach the lost, and that happens! People come to Jesus.
- Communication must increase internally and publicly. I have learned that I must communicate more. I must communicate with my pastors, site leaders, official board, both locations, etc. Without communication it all breaks down.
- The Goal is evangelism and ministry! Some get confused that the goal is to have the new site be “self-supporting” or that the new site exists independently, or that it is “cut loose” at some point. None of these are our goals. Our goals is to win souls, and help people to “love God, love each other, and serve the world.”
- A new site impacts the staff-Everyone on staff is affected and they all must grow in thinking, sourcing, and encouraging the leaders, ministries, pastors of the site. Everyone must be “all in”.
- It costs money-Investment must happen. Ministry can be expensive. The lost is worth it. Marriages saved, children and youth coming to Christ, people returning to their faith…every dollar is worth it.
- Be committed for the long haul. This has been difficult. Our staff has paid a price. Our site pastors and family have also. It would have been easy to quit a few times, but it is worth it. Be committed to not quitting.
- Long-range planning must increase by the Lead Pastor. I have learned that I must plan way out for the life and the calendar of the church as well as for the weekends. It is another layer, and with 3 gatherings at one campus and a 4th at the Holland location, planning is critical and cannot be avoided.
- You must have an associate or executive pastor that is amazing. Our executive pastor, Rick Flood, makes sure the tech, sound, planning, ideas, and so much more is thought about and implemented. We could have never done this without him.
- You can’t cut corners on tech. You need good equipment and it needs supported, updated, and protected. Your weekend depends on it.
- Video teaching is not just for the young. We have reached many older adults, many even over 60 that don’t mind video teaching at all. They are rocks at our campus. I love them so much.
Always a lot to think about to be multi-site. But seeing the lost saved makes it worth it and I believe the pleasure of God is blessing Compelled Church is so many other ways because we took a step of faith, put our money where are heart is, and truly lived “compelled by His love.” If you have any questions, shoot me an email at email@example.com. Looking forward to more years and someday, more sites, and more lives changed for Christ.
Five years ago we set out on an endeavor to plant another location of Compelled Church. God gave us an amazing site pastor, worship leader, and key volunteers that have stuck in out, worked hard, never quit, and today we are expanding a growing church with life-changing ministries and relationships. Continue reading “Five Year Anniversary for Compelled Multi-site Launch”