Answering the “Why”

We are in week six of a process that will (hopefully) lead us to discover the way God intends us to glorify Him and make disciples. A week ago, during our discussion on “Collective Potential,” I was asked the “why” question. In fact, it was posed like this: “Why does any of this matter?”

This question represents the power of any kind of discovery. Just going through the motions of the process, without knowing the reason behind it, wastes time and emotion. Because of the key nature of this question, I “hit pause” on our forward movement and attempted to answer the “why” of it all. I turned to Paul’s defense of his actions in his first letter to the church at Corinth to discover the missionary strategy.


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The Kingdom Concept: Defining our Area of Operations

Over the past two Wednesday evenings, I have introduced several concepts to our church family. The largest of these concepts is something entitled “Kingdom Concept.” Will Mancini, in his book Church Unique, defines this concept as “the simple, clear, ‘big idea’ that defines how your church will glorify God and make disciples.” In order to unveil this big idea, several other steps are required.

The first step toward understanding our place in God’s Kingdom is to determine our place in His world. Called the “Local Predicament,” we are looking to truly know our area of operations. Who lives in the area God has entrusted to us for disciple-making? What are the strongholds or markers of sin in our area? What opportunities exist for us to exploit for the sake of the Kingdom? These questions and more allow us to really grasp our ministry/mission field.

In pursuing these questions, we discussed some of the different ways for us to understand our immediate context of missional ministry: Concord and Cabarrus County. Relating to size of population, we found out that 79,000 people live within a five-mile radius of our church. The average age of those folks is 37 years old. The ethnic makeup of our field is 64% white, 18% African American, and 13% Hispanic. In the entire Cabarrus County, the population is 206,800 people strong.

After establishing these demographic markers, I asked a series of questions meant to establish two thought: what needs exist around us and what opportunities do those needs offer? Below are lists for our collaborative answers from the past two Wednesdays:

 

                        Needs                                                                          Opportunities

Concord becoming a transient population                             Organized Visitation

Surrounded by young unchurched families                           Ensure each home has a bible

Boys/Girls Clubs demonstrate poverty                                   Economic Boost

School system makeup demonstrates poverty                      Healing of families

Drugs, addiction, pre-natal addiction                                     Christians modeling Christ-likeness

Increasing jail population                                                          Organic outreach

Increasing # of microbreweries                                                Sharing the Gospel

Wrong view of the gospel                                                           Free tutoring

 

In addition, when prompted about our location in Concord, we noted: close to schools, centralized location, facility that accentuates hospitality, music opportunities, location for “tent revival,” and opportunity for homecoming.

I list all of these because they tell us what our congregation thinks about our location in the world. Over time, we will try to match up the opportunities and the needs so that we can understand why God has put us here.

Thanks for all the input. We will continue to massage this work so we can properly identify our local predicament. I’m very excited about the mission God has given to us. Perhaps we’ll get there soon, or maybe it will take a while. Either way, the joy of our lives is to seek the Lord and His plans for us!
 
 
In Him,
 
Pastor Jim


Beginning the Journey…

Last night we began our trek towards clarity. I titled this adventure “2020 Vision,” and yes, I know it’s cheesy. (But as one of our members told me, if you can’t do this on the eve of the year 2020, when can you do it?) The emphasis, however, is not on the packaging but on the process of clarifying our direction. For this post, my goal is to summarize the foundational tenets of what we’re about to do, record the results of our two exercises from last night, and then shine a light into the murkiness of the next weeks and months.

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Attempting Focal Unity

On Wednesday nights starting in late July, I plan to lead our church is a pursuit of clarity. Based on the book (and process) Church Unique by Will Mancini, I will lead us to discover who God wants FBC to be for Him in Concord and beyond.  I’ve read the book through twice, and ransacked it several more times, and it serves as a great tool for assessment.

As we grapple with the concepts on Wednesday evenings, I won’t expect (or even ask) our church members to read the book. What I will ask is that those present will actually participate. Collaborative in nature, the interaction will allow our folks to “remember when” and dream dreams of “what if we….” The product of this venture will provide a sense of unity: unified understanding, unified language, and unified future.


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Willing to Give.

What are we willing to give?

 

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.                                                                                                        1 Corinthians 9:19-23

As I examine God’s calling on my life and dream about my future, I often wander back to this passage of Scripture from Paul’s pen. I don’t always like it, I certainly don’t always live it, but I DO always believe that it serves as a model for our ministries. To sum it up, “I surrender my freedom (rights, preferences, desires) to reach others with the Gospel.” That’s it. Easy-peasy.


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Celebrating our Risen Lord!

I’m grateful for all of the opportunities we have at this time of year to celebrate, enjoy, and congregate with our families. I love the ham, devilled eggs, potato salad, and green beans present at our typical Easter dinner. I enjoy a summer tan or blue seersucker suit with a pink or orange bow tie and white bucks (no white before Easter!) to celebrate the seasonal change. And, sorry Halloween, there’s no candy like Easter candy: peeps, Reese’s eggs, and chocolate- covered marshmallow bunnies. It is a fun time of year.

Yet, we have to intentionally set before us the reason for this time of year. We must consider that at the heart of this celebration we don’t find eggs, or candy; rather we find a bloody cross and an empty grave. Our risen Lord Jesus, who will soon return riding a horse and judging the nations, reigns


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God Has Spoken

 

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”     – the Serpent

Did God actually say? These four words preface the Serpent’s overture to Eve in the garden. Adam and Eve had received instructions from God on how to please Him and live in harmony in His creation. With these words the Serpent enticed the couple to disobey. With these words the Serpent persuaded humanity to reject His will and succumb to their own desires. With these words all of ordered creation was thrown into disarray and cursed by its Creator.

This question – Did God actually say? – is the most important question for humanity. Not just for humanity, but each one of us as individuals must grapple with this question. Churches – and even denominations – must decide the answer to this question. In fact, every other decision, mission statement, or life-plan runs its course based on one’s answer to this question.


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When Herod has had enough…

We often celebrate Christmas in a kind of a sterile way. The shepherds are all clean and smell of freshly laundered linen. The angels are never frightening. Mary and Joseph know all of their lines. And, the Baby, “no crying he makes.” And, because we’ve cleaned it all up so well, we often fail to remember that Herod’s response to these “glad tidings of great joy” was to commit state-sponsored mass murder. And Rachel weeps for her sons.

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Church and Inclement Weather

This blog serves me as a way to continue to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” So, most of my posts are attempts to persuade you, dear reader, to follow Christ more closely. Sometimes I share things that I see lacking in our lives. Sometimes I share things that God is teaching me, places where I notice short-comings in my own walk with the Lord. And, sometimes, I use this blog to communicate with our church family.

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Intentional Discipleship

Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

Thanksgiving arrived earlier than I’m used to this year. It gives us this squirrelly week that we have now; it’s after Thanksgiving but it’s still November. So, instead of turning my thoughts toward Christmas (which I’m wont to do the week after Thanksgiving), I will bring my last thoughts on discipleship for this calendar year.


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