If you are new to this blog....

Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Friday, October 23, 2009

wednesdays out - 4 weeks in

A few weeks ago I described our Wednesday Night out "experiment." I said I would report on how it's going. It has already exceeded my expectations many times over!

On the fourth Wednesday, one of the group that goes to Barnes and Noble in the Arboretum shared with me about what has happened there. They have met two of the folks that work at the Starbucks there. One they just asked his name, and he responded, noting that his name was in the Bible. Another they shared that they were sharing prayer requests with each other and was there anything they could pray about for her – and she opened up with them, asking for prayer.

We could have had another Wednesday night study – same content, but in the church building amongst ourselves. And we would have missed out on all these connections. But we got up and got involved with our neighbors – with the people God loves and for whom Christ came into this world. And look what God has already done! It has far exceeded my expectations.

It has also illustrated what Jesus taught in John 4:34-38 (sermon here). While we've only been a small part of these neighbors' lives, we have surely have been a part of what God is doing in their lives. Clearly in some cases God has been working before us to plant seeds, and we were part of the watering process. Hopefully we are planting some seeds. If we persevere, we may also see part of the harvest or some fruit. The point is not the product, however, but being willing to OBEY and PARTICIPATE in what God is doing. That is what Jesus modeled and taught the disciples, and I believe it is God’s instruction and challenge to us.


Link to 1 week in
Link to 2 weeks in
Link to 3 weeks in
Link to 4 weeks in
Link to Wednesday Night Experiment, year 2
Read or hear the sermon on the Wednesday experiment: HERE

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

wednesdays out - 3 weeks in

A few weeks ago I described our Wednesday Night out "experiment." I said I would report on how it's going...

After the first time, it had already exceeded my expectations. Two weeks in, those suprises multiplied several times over.

In the third week, one of our Wednesday night participants shared with me that a boy in her son's 6th grade class (and who had attended some church events a few years ago) was struggling academically. He lives in a housing project behind our church, which is another of the ministry areas we identified a few years ago. We have been praying for an open door to connect with families and children in Brighton Place.

This Good Shepherd mom said she had been challenged by the sermons and Wednesday night vision to reach out to this boy and offer to lead a study group with him during the hour-long Wednesday night out. So, starting the third Wednesday, she and one of the men of our church went to Brighton place to meet with this young man, who ended up bringing one of his friends along. By the time they were done, several other friends had gathered to see what was going on and it looks like a serious study group is forming.

In the process, we also got to meet the manager of Brighton Place and initiate some conversation with her about using facilities for this purpose.

This is what really excites me - when I (as pastor) don't think of a ministry and have to recruit people, but when God leads someone to a ministry and they ask me how we can do it. And I get to launch them out to share in what God is doing with our neighbors and in the world. Unbelievable - God, that is!


Link to 1 week in
Link to 2 weeks in
Link to 3 weeks in
Link to 4 weeks in
Link to Wednesday Night Experiment, year 2

wednesdays out - 2 weeks in

A few weeks ago I described our Wednesday Night out "experiment." I said I would report on how it's going...

After THE FIRST WEEK, it had already exceeded my expectations. Two weeks in, the surprises began to multiply.

Several years ago our officers and staff grappled with a vision to be God's church for this neighborhood (about a 1 mi. radius around our church). We identified several significant mission opportunities within a few blocks of the church, including a group home for men just across the street. We have prayed for an opportunity to connect with them, but have never really stepped out boldly to do so. Last year we had an outdoor concert with the Shelley Moore Band and several of the group home guys came over. About the same time, one of our youth volunteered at a Joni and Friends summer camp and was paired with a young man named Josh. Campers were from all over the country - and Josh was from the group home across the street. Between Josh and the concert, several guys from the home decided to venture over TO US on our last few Wednesday nights of the Spring... then we took off for the summer.

So when we started back up this Fall, two of the guys were ready and waiting. We have paired two adults and our high school guys (3 seniors, 1 sophmore) with them for a small group to study the book of James and pray for each other's needs. They shoot a little basketball first, then go back to the group home for the study. This all developed between the first and second Wednesday and now 5 of the 6 guys in the home are involved and our high school guys are engaging in ministry and discipleship! Unbelievable... God, that is!

Link to 1 week in
Link to 2 weeks in
Link to 3 weeks in
Link to 4 weeks in
Link to Wednesday Night Experiment, year 2


wednesdays out - 1 week in

A few weeks ago I described our Wednesday Night out "experiment." I said I would report on how it's going...

After THE FIRST TIME, it had already exceeded my expectations. Two weeks in, those surprises multiplied several times over.

We have about 15-20 people going out in groups of 3-5. I give them several simple questions to discuss (with each other) during the hour out. The questions are something like 1) Where did you see or experience God's presence in your life this past week? 2) Is church important to you? Why? 3) Can we pray about anything in your life?

The groups disperse within about one mile of our church. There are two separate groups at Caribou Coffee, one at Barnes and Noble, one at a local bar/restaurant called The Lodge, one in the parking lot at the basketball goal, and one that stays at the church for folks who have babies in the nursery or don't otherwise want to go too far away.

We also encourage the groups to interact casually with waitstaff, baristas, and anyone else they run into. We ask them to patronize the store or restaurant and to tip well!

So here was my VISIONARY HOPE: after 6-8 weeks of this, we might have met a few regulars and the staff wherever we are and perhaps God might open a door or two to more significant spiritual conversation. We would be going to where people are, building relationships, and pointing people to God.

Here's what has happened so far:

WEEK ONE: as my group was leaving Caribou, I went to meet the manager/barista and see if there was any possibility of bringing my guitar the following week and providing an hour of live (non-religious) music in the outside eating area. The manager, Desiree, got a strange look on her face and said, "Live music?" She went on to tell me that at her previous store a co-manager had started live music and it was wildly successful. The other managers at this present store wanted her to start the same thing (because she had been at the store where it worked), but she had no idea how to get it going. She told me she had to Google "acoustic music" to see what it even was (no drums or amps, if you didn't know). I realized the strange look on her face was shock that live music had dropped into her lap. I was shocked to find there was already a desire and need and the door was already open! So, another friend and I started up the next week and are now talking to her about possible regular weekend gigs. On top of that, she suggested that we put out a tip jar as live musicians often do. I'm already thinking we might do that, but have it go to a recognizable local mission like "Loaves and Fishes" or "Crisis Assistance." Unbelievable!! We just ventured off the church property and the need was waiting for us. (I also think God thought we could use some encouragement!!)

Rather than write a too-long post... I'll post later about the amazing development in the second week and yet another on the third week! Let me know your thoughts and come back for more! Unbelievable... God, that is!

Link to 1 week in
Link to 2 weeks in
Link to 3 weeks in
Link to 4 weeks in
Link to Wednesday Night Experiment, year 2


Sunday, October 18, 2009

come thou fount - live gspc worship

This is a recording of live worship at Good Shepherd. We are singing my arrangement of "Come Thou Fount." I adapted the chorus from Psalm 36:8-9, which reads:

They drink their fill of the abundance (lit. fatness) of your house;
And you give them to drink of the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
In your light we see light.
Here is the live worship from this morning, October 18, 2009, at Good Shepherd.



And here is the studio version from my upcoming CD, The Breadth of Worship. (still working on the vocals...)




Thursday, October 15, 2009

church with an expiration date?

I recently read an interesting post on Adam Walker Cleaveland's pomomusing blog. He invited a guest blogger, Russell Rathbun, to share an idea that sounds fresh and interesting to me. The post was entitled, "What if a Church had an Expiration Date?"

The basic gist was to start a new church with a core of folks committed to welcome, connect, develop, and focus outward such that after a set time (he suggests five years) they might be sent out to start afresh and multiply.

This idea very much paralleled the response I got from Stacie, one of the students I taught at the YWAM School of the Bible last May. Challenged to develop a worship service from scratch, using principles we had studied, she envisioned a whole church concept around that worship. It also had an "expiration date," though she didn't use those words. She envisioned a house church that would only meet for a year, beccause the expectation would be to disciple and grow such that two (or more) new house churches might be formed out of the original group after a year's time. In comparison to this pace, I found our mainline denominational church (as evangelistic as we may be) to be moving at a snail's pace... and a slow snail at that.

I believe such an idea rightly challenges us (esp. in the mainline denominations) to be more intentional about evangelism, discipleship, community, and multiplying ourselves outward. Having said that, as I reflected, I had what I think were some helpful thoughts toward the value of not 'expiring.' Here's what I wrote:

At first pass, I LOVED this idea, in spirit if not in specifics (after all, what if God had something in mind for 5 yrs. 1 week!)… and perhaps part of God’s witness is reviving/resurrecting things about to expire. Nonetheless... I think the caveat “remain open to what God might do” would be a good balancing principle, [though] I definitely think we need more permission to end things – within the church to be sure, if not the whole endeavor.

As I pondered [this idea] more, very significant matters like baptism, discipleship, multi-generational relationships, spiritual formation, etc… came to mind – i.e., many of things things that are right and healthy in churches, not to mention instructed in scripture. Perhaps the idea of a time-line for church planting and a holy expectation for multiplication outwards is a healthy application of the expiration date idea, without packing up the whole shop.

As 2nd pastor of a 28 yr. old church, I hear the stories of the first 5 years and can understand the value of tapping into that energy. Yet, I also see some amazing experiences that come out of the 15th year “stall” and pushing through it… it’s a kind of adolescence and even maturing that may come with time. I also think of the excitement of dating someone for the first time and the richness of a long-term relationship and marriage… certainly not as mobile and malleable as those early relationships, but also potential for lasting impact through children and maintaining a dynamic loving relationship as we age.

I think what I’m getting to is that, upon reflection, there are some important things that might be lost with a 5 yr constant re-start. Yet I think there might be some good ways to incorporate the energy, motivation, and expectation in this idea within the life of a maturing and outward-focused congregation. It is a provocative enough idea to at least get some good thoughts and conversation going!
I'd be interested in readers' thoughts, so please comment!

Like Us!