I am so excited about Easter I can hardly wait! I have special guests of a different religion who will spend this weekend with Nikki and I. As I was thinking about him and his wife coming, I began to think about all those in the DFW area that read my blog and wanted to make sure you were invited and most welcome at www.Northwoodchurch.org. Good Friday service is at 7pm and Easter worship services at 9:30 & 11am in Keller. There will also be a service at 5pm downtown Fort Worth at the Norris Conference Center on Houston Street beside the Reatta Restaurant. You can visit our website to learn more about us. Our address is 1870 Rufe Snow, Keller, Texas 76248. Our church phone is 817-656-8150. Read more
I am a white, Irish-American, southerner, Texan (United Sates), evangelical, conservative, from the tribe of faith called Baptist. I grew up in Waco, Texas, which is not a major metropolitan area, nor is it vastly diverse in world culture. Diversity in Waco could be described as white Anglo Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans living in different socio-economic zip codes. Invisible lines separated the neighborhoods and where you lived was determined by the color of your skin. This was not by our own personal choices. It was the social construct of our society. Those lines existed long before my family lived there. Read more
Easter is that time of year when everyone comes to church. Not necessarily because they believe in God or follow the faith – but because there is something in their background spiritually, culturally, or religiously that makes them come. I’m not discounting the fact that the Holy Spirit works to bring people who find him – the Spirit does! But, we will all have the biggest day of the year in a couple of Sundays. The Sunday after that, there will be some that return, but in most cases it will be nothing like the previous week – until next year! Read more
Most people want salvation, but they don’t want to be converted. We want to convert others, but I’m convinced we need to focus on converting ourselves more than anyone else. DNA, processes, church models, and expressions of the church are what pastors talk about today, but the sleeping giant that really isn’t addressed is culture. Some are becoming acquainted with the idea of the Gospel of the Kingdom. It’s the idea that God is at work transforming people, communities, infrastructures, all things, the world included. It works because “kingdom culture” transcends all cultures and can be inserted within any culture and can produce followers of Jesus where the citizens, though different in tribe, race, background, are similar in character and life. But, that really isn’t happening, at least on a large scale. Some want the gospel of “salvation” where they get their ticket to heaven punched. Some want the gospel of “religion” where they follow the traditions of their ancestors. Some want “church” where they have some friends and it’s limited to a weekly service. Yet, this is not the church that was in Acts or Paul’s epistles. Read more
Recently I was with a small group from the US in a meeting with faith and government leaders from a different country; we had to meet in a nearby nation due to security concerns. It was an incredible time of meeting others, hearing stories, listening to desires of what the future could be, and then mapping out some strategies of moving forward on how to bridge gaps between people of different faiths. Everyone came to the meeting somewhat curious but also tenuous about the “others”, but by the second day people were laughing, sharing stories, later they were talking about their families and by the final day many were inviting their new friends to come visit their homes and stay with their families. One of the projects we did while we met was to study our sacred texts as to what they taught about peace in the world. As we Christians looked at all our Scripture, they were full of admonitions to peace as well as how Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.” As a matter of fact, in the New Testament there was nothing where Jesus or the Apostles ever were instructed to take up arms or come against another nation or people, but they were instructed to put them down. Read more
Everyone has junk. There are no perfect people. Everybody has inabilities and weaknesses. No one has the whole package. It’s a lot more fun to look at someone else’s imperfection than to look at our own. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced the reason we love judging others is because it makes us feel better about ourselves – “we aren’t ‘that’ bad!”
I recently read somewhere that in America 1300+ pastors per month leave the ministry. There’s no doubt about it, leading a church can be hell. Read more
If you’ve read my blog you know that around November to December every year I write about journaling. I’m serious about it. There is no greater or formative discipline that intersects all the disciplines and all of life like journaling. It’s not a diary – it’s reflections. I define a journal as “a catalogue of reflections of what God is doing and saying in your life”.
To journal you don’t need to be a good writer. You just need to be still and quiet and write. You aren’t writing for publication or for your English teacher. I would not write a journal for anyone but myself. It’s not history it’s how you see life, what you are learning, questions you have, and anything you want to write about. Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, and others – have used this and it was key to their spiritual development. Some of the things they wrote about included personal struggles, frustrations, and even deep questions about God. Some people freaked out over that – I didn’t. We all have those questions and I believe it’s in the slow wrestling of those questions that we find truth, meaning, life and, yes, God. There is NOTHING that has grown me spiritually, emotionally, and relationally – even globally, like journaling. Yet, it’s not journaling – it’s reflecting, remembering, discovering patterns, recording events that were good and bad, and writing down the things God spoke to you about in the middle of the night.
I believe the book of Acts is how God intends for us to walk with him, learn, grow, and experience life. Having read Acts many times, studying it, preaching it – I’m convinced the biggest message of Acts is the unexpected. The Holy Spirit orchestrates everything from relationships, timing, schedule – and none of it comes through orchestrated action plans, goals, systems, and processes. That doesn’t mean those things don’t matter – just that they aren’t primary. I know this, the greatest things in my life that God has done, has had little to do with how I organize but rather how I hear God’s voice or recognize him moving in unexpected circumstances or people. At the moment at which things are taking place I don’t always recognize their significance – but as I journal and see things develop there really is a pattern.
Each year I start a new journal. It has what I learned from the previous year, it has words people give me, verses burned in my heart, goals, people I work with, people I’m praying for, models, tons of stuff – about 30 pages worth, then daily and early in the morning I write.
THUS, this is why I’m promoting the book “Journaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth through Reflection” by Adam Feldman. It is simply the best book I’ve ever read on how to journal. I would encourage you to buy it, read it, and use it to begin. Your own style and preferences will takeover, but it will be a fantastic guide to start with. You can read more about his view of journaling at AdamLFeldman.com – I loved the book and was excited when it came out.
SO YOU’RE GOING TO START A CHURCH!!! HALLELUJAH!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! No doubt, you’re reading books, heading to some great conferences, in a cohort, talking to former church planters and pastors, gathering all the information you can to plant a church that glorifies God, extends the kingdom, and reaches your city and the world. There are some things that are very important to understand, to the degree that if you don’t – you could “lose” you’re soul in all the stress, challenges, and learning you’re about to do.
6. An exceptional church planter knows their context. Len Sweet says, it’s “knowing your zip code”. Who lives there, education, background, history, culture, values, traditions, nuances . . . all of these things are critical. There is always a growing church somewhere because someone doesn’t just love Jesus, they understand the people and have the ability to think deeply and design communication in light of who is present. It isn’t enough to know what is, but what’s coming. What’s coming, in terms of demographic shifts, psychographic shifts, economic shifts, racial shifts, etc? Another key issue is, what are the questions that the broader culture is asking? Thirty or twenty years ago, those questions were easy to ignore if you wanted to. Read more
When I started Northwood in 1985 no one was really talking church planting that much. Pastors coming out of seminary definitely were not doing it – Rick Warren & Bill Hybels were anomalies. Today, it’s just the opposite, no one wants to pastor an established church and everyone wants to start a church. Sad to say, in my day many started churches because they couldn’t get an established church – but some were called and gifted and went out because of that call. Today, some, but not all, start churches because they see it as the quickest way to grow a church real big real fast.
1. An exceptional church planter has dealt with their brokenness. A church planter with a checkered past or a checkered present, that is being kept hidden from everyone else, sooner or later comes to the surface. Read more