Category Archives: Church

“A Little More Excitement Please!” -Jesus

I was in my favorite Starbucks the other day.  Shocking, I know.  I ordered my Fall favorite, Triple Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Near the door stood a man, a little shorter than me.  We’ll call him 5’11”.  He appeared to be very fit and his shirt even advertised it.  It said, “Rogue Fitness!”  And then had some added information about kettlebells and who knows what.  Honestly, I quit reading after, “Rogue Fitness!”

As usual, I started a conversation with a complete stranger.

“Hey, tell me what Rogue Fitness is all about.”

The conversation from that point was a blur.  I know I left with a business card, his name (Matt), the fact that Rogue Fitness was his gym and an offer to come and check it out.  He was so excited about his gym, I honestly contemplated checking it out.  Until I came back to reality and realized that would cost money.  Nevertheless, the fact I won’t be going by, didn’t diminish one glaring fact that was blinding me as I walked to my car.

Why can’t Christians be that excited about their faith?

If I was wearing a church shirt and someone asked me about it, would I have responded that excitedly?  I sure hope so.

When given an opportunity like this one, do we jump all over it with the tenacity of a Rogue Fitness Coach?

Do our eyes light up?  Do they get really big?  Do the veins in our neck stand out a little more?  Can people see the passion about your faith when you talk with them?  Or does your impression leave them feeling as if they would fall asleep at your church?

God has come across the cosmos and intervened in our world.  Given us a mission and purpose.  Told us that no matter what happens, we will not fail.

And yet we often times act as if we are scared little dogs, afraid to tell anyone what we believe.

So get out there you Christians.  You who claim to be followers of Christ.  You who show up on Sunday morning and sing the songs, listen to the message, take the communion and claim to live for and obey Jesus.  Get out there and be excited about your faith.  When someone is done talking to you, they should feel the excitement and passion pouring out of you.  Get excited Christians!

And unlike Rogue Fitness, there isn’t even a membership fee.  So you can tell that stranger at Starbucks that it’s all free!

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) – And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

The Book of Joel?

Who would have thought?  Inspiration from a small, Old Testament book, that goes by the name of the prophet, Joel.

I am reading through the Bible in one year.  Currently I am well over halfway done, but still in the Old Testament.  I will admit that there are some Old Testament books that I get to and honestly think, “What can I possibly get out of what this book has to say?  I mean, it’s so…well…old.”

And today I find myself landing in a short, three-chapter, book by a prophet named Joel.  First thought, “Here we go again.”  Not very encouraging coming from the “pastor.”

But if there’s something in a small book like Joel that can benefit us today, God can certainly show us where.  So I prayed before I began to read, “God, please show me what you want me to see in this book.  Whatever it is, let me see it clearly.”  And wouldn’t you know it, clear as day, Joel 2:12, 13 popped off the page and smacked me in the face.

That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time.  Give me your hearts.  Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.  Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’  Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not punish.

There it was.

Popping off the page.

God wants more than my outward show.

You see, we all can be good at putting on a show for everyone.  We are fantastic at convincing people we are one way, when on the inside we are another.  We can show up at church, but internally not allow it to impact us in any way.

God is not interested in the outward show (tearing our clothes in grief).  When the Bible says that, we would need to hear, “Don’t come to Me (God) just by looking like it on the outside.  Don’t show up at church and pretend to be coming to Me.”

God is interested in the internal happenings (tear your heart).  What we need to hear is, “God wants more than the outward show of religion.  God isn’t interested in your record for most Sundays attended in a row.  God is interested in whether or not your heart is fully, completely, 100%, turned, focused and aimed toward Him.  Am I fully surrendered to the God of the universe?

I can be the master of this.  Putting on my show for everyone to see.  Making it appear that everything between God and I is okay, when internally, God and I are experiencing tension.  Tension over whether or not He can have all of me.

Guess Joel is urging me to continually lay down the stuff I want in life and to turn my heart completely to God.  Time to give up the tension and allow God to have His way.

Have you ever experienced that tension?

Am I way off?

Gettysburg and Leadership!

Some of the staff guys from my church, New Life Christian Church, headed out of town for a few days this week. We left with the mission of hanging out, doing some team building, praying and trying to get a clear picture of what God has in mind for us in the coming months and year. We headed out on Tuesday and drove from Chantilly, Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Gettysburg is the sight of one of the deadliest and most memorable battles of the Civil War. A battle lasting for three days; July 1, 2 and 3 of 1863.

Gettysburg

View from Little Round Top!

Wednesday morning, we all went on a four-hour bike tour of Gettysburg. The tour was great. Watching eight pastors try to ride bikes in a straight line was downright entertaining. After the leg cramps went away from the 13-mile, four-hour ride, we sat down for some lunch and started chatting about what we learned.

Here are a couple of principles I picked up from the ride.

1 – Leadership Sometimes Means Following!

If you can’t follow the lead of those over you, it might be time for a change of scenery. Just don’t cause a scene on your way. During day two of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Sickles of the Union army, disobeyed a command from General Meade. His move to higher ground (the Peach Orchard) instead of anchoring his line where Meade had directed (base of Little Round Top), nearly cost the Union the battle. A defeat at Gettysburg would have opened the door for the Confederates to take the Capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, as well as take open routes to both Baltimore and Washington, DC.

2 – Leadership Is Making the Tough Calls!

Leaders are leaders for a reason; they make the calls that many people are unwilling to make. Sometimes the call they make isn’t popular, but the leader must make the call. Around 5:00 pm on the first day of the battle, General Lee had the Union troops on the ropes. They were outmatched and outflanked. He then delegated a decision down to General Ewell, a lower ranking General, about whether or not to pursue the already retreating Union forces. His decision? Regroup and attack the next day. Wasting two hours of daylight and precious time with the enemy on the run, the Confederates will not recover from this decision and will ultimately lose the battle at Gettysburg. Leaders, some calls are yours and yours alone. Don’t delegate away your momentum!

Of course, these are just a couple principles. There are many others. What are other leadership principles that you wouldn’t go without?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

What Should I Name My Church Plant?

A fun post to get us started.  It’s a little old, but that’s okay.

What I am about to say, I do not say lightly.  I have been praying about this for years and I believe that God is leading me down this path.  I believe that God wants me to plant churches.  I am on a journey where the future is completely unknown and must fall squarely in the hands of God Himself.  And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be.  From here, it gets a tad less “heavy.”

When it comes to church planting, there is a lot to ponder.  Until I feel the spark to talk about other areas of church planting, I want to go ahead and offer a few tips to church planters and future church planters out there.  This post will deal specifically with your church’s name.  When it comes right down to it, your church name is going to be the center piece of your marketing, it will reflect who you are, what your values are, everything.  You are setting out to change the world for Jesus and chances are the first impression people have of you will be your church name.  That’s why the church name is almost as important as financial funding (insert hilarious laughter here).

That being said, I have some very important church names that you should consider for your church plant.

The Lord’s Vineyard

That’s right.  You want people to know that there’s only one vineyard in town that God has chosen, and it’s yours.  That other church down the street?  Forget them.  They don’t even have the right name on the door.  Surely God isn’t working in their lives.  You want everyone to know that if they’re going to be picked in God’s glorious elect, they better be in your vineyard.  After all, it is the Lord’s.

Church of the Holy Immaculate Conception

What we’re hoping for here is for people to be confused and think you meant, “immaculate reception.”  If that’s the case, they might think you’re talking football.  And if you know football, maybe you’re only half-weird.  Get them in the door with this brilliant “bait and switch” name.

Holiness Church of (  insert city/town name  )

Nothing says, “Our church is more holy than yours, yours, yours and definitely yours,” than a church name with “Holiness” in it.  If you’re in an uppity suburb somewhere, this may be the option for you.  Everyone should know that while other churches might be holy, they aren’t nearly as holy as yours.  The folk who love to keep up with the Jones’ will love that they can rub this one in to their friends.  “Oh, you go to First Church of God down the street.  Well, we have been members of the Holiness Church of (  insert city/town name  ) for 42 generations.  Yep, that’s right.  We’re holy.”

Anything with “Whispering” in it

Whispering Pines.  Whispering Grove.  Whispering Creeper.  Who’s whispering over my shoulder?  This is just getting weird.  Still, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper on a mountain side.  You want people to know that at your church, they will be hearing God in whispers over their shoulder.  Plus, this way you get to get them started in some Old Testament knowledge right away.  They’ll be learning Bible and won’t even know it.

The First Holy Faith Tabernacle Church of Peter, Andrew, James and John Founded on the Solid Rock

If your church name is longer than your mission statement, it’s a good one.  Because the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for the lost to actually remember your church name.  After all, new people means being uncomfortable.  So let’s just confuse them with a ridiculously long name on the sign.

Boring (  anything  )

Look, I get it.  You’ve lived in Boring, (State Name) since you were conceived.  You are proud of the 1/2AAA Girls Checkers State Championship your school won in 1903.  So go ahead and spit in the face of first impressions.  Who cares if people drive by and think your church is boring.  It’s worth it because of 1903.

So, there you have it.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but I do hope I have helped to ease the burden that is the hard work of church planting.  Feel free to use these free of charge for your church plant, or you can create your own variation as well.  Now, get out there, start a church and confuse the heck out of the people in your town.

Passion4Planting

If you have a desire to church plant and you believe God is leading you in that direction, let me know.  I would love to pray for you (seriously, no satire here).  Also, you may want to click the image above to help you get started on your church planting journey.

Books Available!

I’m parting with several books that I have had in my library.  Rather than sell them online, I thought I would give you the opportunity to ask for one first.  So, if you are interested in any of the following books, let me know.  First come, first serve.  You can message me with your requests at stan.rodda34@gmail.com.  All I ask is that you pay for shipping if you live far away from me.  =)

  1. I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt  –  Antonucci
  2. The Leadership Lessons of Jesus  –  Briner & Pritchard
  3. Blue Like Jazz  –  Donald Miller
  4. Too Small To Ignore  –  Stafford
  5. Jesus Wants To Save The Christians  –  Bell (eBay)
  6. Guerrilla Lovers  –  Antonucci
  7. When Leadership and Discipleship Collide  –  Hybels
  8. The Prodigal Hugging Church  –  Wright
  9. Taking A Stand  –  Knowles
  10. The Purpose Drive Life  –  Warren
  11. If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat  –  Ortberg (eBay)
  12. Planting Growing Church for the 21st Century  –  Malphurs
  13. Faith In The Game  –  Osborne (eBay)
  14. Emerging Churches  –  Gibbs & Bolger (eBay)
  15. In A Pit With A  Lion On A Snowy Day  –  Batterson
  16. Creating Web Sites  –  Crowder & Bailey
  17. Building A Web Site For Dummies  –  Crowder

There you have it.  Let me know.

What Should I Name My Church Plant!

What I am about to say, I do not say lightly.  I have been praying about this for years and I believe that God is leading me down this path.  I believe that God wants me to plant churches.  I am on a journey where the future is completely unknown and must fall squarely in the hands of God Himself.  And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be.  From here, it gets a tad less “heavy.”

When it comes to church planting, there is a lot to ponder.  Until I feel the spark to talk about other areas of church planting, I want to go ahead and offer a few tips to church planters and future church planters out there.  This post will deal specifically with your church’s name.  When it comes right down to it, your church name is going to be the center piece of your marketing, it will reflect who you are, what your values are, everything.  You are setting out to change the world for Jesus and chances are the first impression people have of you will be your church name.  That’s why the church name is almost as important as financial funding (insert hilarious laughter here).

That being said, I have some very important church names that you should consider for your church plant.

The Lord’s Vineyard

That’s right.  You want people to know that there’s only one vineyard in town that God has chosen, and it’s yours.  That other church down the street?  Forget them.  They don’t even have the right name on the door.  Surely God isn’t working in their lives.  You want everyone to know that if they’re going to be picked in God’s glorious elect, they better be in your vineyard.  After all, it is the Lord’s.

Church of the Holy Immaculate Conception

What we’re hoping for here is for people to be confused and think you meant, “immaculate reception.”  If that’s the case, they might think you’re talking football.  And if you know football, maybe you’re only half-weird.  Get them in the door with this brilliant “bait and switch” name.

Holiness Church of (  insert city/town name  )

Nothing says, “Our church is more holy than yours, yours, yours and definitely yours,” than a church name with “Holiness” in it.  If you’re in an uppity suburb somewhere, this may be the option for you.  Everyone should know that while other churches might be holy, they aren’t nearly as holy as yours.  The folk who love to keep up with the Jones’ will love that they can rub this one in to their friends.  “Oh, you go to First Church of God down the street.  Well, we have been members of the Holiness Church of (  insert city/town name  ) for 42 generations.  Yep, that’s right.  We’re holy.”

Anything with “Whispering” in it

Whispering Pines.  Whispering Grove.  Whispering Creeper.  Who’s whispering over my shoulder?  This is just getting weird.  Still, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper on a mountain side.  You want people to know that at your church, they will be hearing God in whispers over their shoulder.  Plus, this way you get to get them started in some Old Testament knowledge right away.  They’ll be learning Bible and won’t even know it.

The First Holy Faith Tabernacle Church of Peter, Andrew, James and John Founded on the Solid Rock

If your church name is longer than your mission statement, it’s a good one.  Because the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for the lost to actually remember your church name.  After all, new people means being uncomfortable.  So let’s just confuse them with a ridiculously long name on the sign.

Boring (  anything  )

Look, I get it.  You’ve lived in Boring, (State Name) since you were conceived.  You are proud of the 1/2AAA Girls Checkers State Championship your school won in 1903.  So go ahead and spit in the face of first impressions.  Who cares if people drive by and think your church is boring.  It’s worth it because of 1903.

So, there you have it.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but I do hope I have helped to ease the burden that is the hard work of church planting.  Feel free to use these free of charge for your church plant, or you can create your own variation as well.  Now, get out there, start a church and confuse the heck out of the people in your town.

Passion4Planting

If you have a desire to church plant and you believe God is leading you in that direction, let me know.  I would love to pray for you (seriously, no satire here).  Also, you may want to click the image above to help you get started on your church planting journey.

Social Media Does The Body Good!

The way we interact today isn’t like it was in the old days.  Back in the “good ol’ days” people would talk to each other using their mouths and eyes, not their computers, websites and fancy smartphones.  The way we connect, communicate and interact seems to be changing constantly at a blinding speed.  The minute I catch up with one thing, I’ve already got to learn a new one.

Fortunately for me, I actually enjoy the social media fad.  I’m on most major social media platforms.  I enjoy connecting with new people and catching up with people from my past.  Social media has completely changed the landscape of communication.

I want to speak specifically to those who are involved in ministry for a minute.

You may or may not like social media.  It may be something you naturally connect with or you might look at it and be completely baffled as to why anyone would get involved with such craziness.  I’m here to tell you something; your ministry needs social media.  Trust me, it does the “Body” good.

Adam Carriker

Adam Carriker

This is Adam Carriker.  He is a former Nebraska Cornhusker, stand out defensive lineman and Blackshirt.  He is a current Washington Redskin, right in my backyard.  I follow Adam on Twitter and am a “friend” on Facebook, mostly for selfish reasons (to keep up with Husker players).  However, this connection would prove to be extremely fruitful.

At our Campus in Haymarket, Virginia, we have a ministry we call, “Grab Your Groceries.”  We connect with social workers and guidance counselors in our local schools in Prince William County.  Through them, we are able to help provide grocery relief for some of the poorest in our area.  We meet very few of the families we serve, but based on our connections, we know the help is going to those who need it most.  The schools and families we serve are beginning to trust us more than other social organizations and it’s awesome to watch as they call us up and ask us to help us with different events at their schools.  I think we’ve stumbled on to a way to bring Jesus to schools without bashing them over the head with a Bible study or prayer group (but that’s a post for another time).

To help GYG grow, we are planning a huge benefit concert.  This is where social media comes back into the picture.  I sent Adam a direct message on Twitter, briefly told him about myself and introduced him to GYG.  I also was so bold as to ask him to help us out.  He responded with a message of his own and the conversation took off from there.  I found him on Facebook (to make messaging simpler) and gave him more details.  He was happy to help.  I asked him to donate cleats, signed by him, that we could raffle off to raise money to buy groceries for the families we serve.  He loved the idea and agreed.

No red tape.

No agents.

No long lines waiting for an autograph at a mall.

But I did make a connection with a professional athlete in the most powerful city in the world.  And he is helping us serve the community in his own way.  And I couldn’t have done it without social media.  Facebook, Twitter and more, have the power to connect you to people around the world like never before.  And in this case, it has served to further ministry efforts to provide grocery relief for those who need it most in our area.  Social media is capable of some very powerful things.

So, what do you think social media could help you and your ministry accomplish?

In what ways do you utilize social media to your ministries advantage?

Do you see ways that social media can be used to help make disciples?

Adam's cleats

Thanks, Adam Carriker, for the awesome donation!  You’re the man!  Go Huskers!  And, Go Skins!  We will be raffling his cleats at the benefit concert on Saturday, September 10th.

Follow Adam on Twitter here.  Check out his bio as well.  Maybe he knows a little something about making a difference in people’s lives.

Follow me on Twitter here.

It’s Time To Ask!

There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2.  It says this…

…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

Could life really be that simple?  Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?

Just ask

I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life.  Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer.  It’s an amazing concept, I know.  As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism.  I know, crazy huh?  Ask God to intervene in “our” work.  The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it.  We have seen God do some very cool things.  I’ll save some of those stories for another post.

I love how simple this concept really is.  My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out.  He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend.  He simply said, “What religion are you?”  She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.”  So Grant said, “Then what are you?”  She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.”  Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”

I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask.  Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives?  Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved?  Are you simply asking the question?

I am striving harder to ask both of these questions.  I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t.  I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved.  It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.

So who do you need to ask?

Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?

Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?

Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?

It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  But, at the very least…

It’s time to ask!

Do Work!

Last fall I played in a men’s flag football league in Fairfax, Virginia.  It was a blast.  One of my teammates was named, Bryan.  He and I played defense on the same side of the field (this meant we got to know each other really well).  He had a great phrase he would use during crucial moments of a game.  He would look at me right in the eyes and say, “Time to do work, Rodda!  Do work!”  Granted, the grammar isn’t great, but the phrase gets the job did done.  That phrase and his intensity always challenged me to run a little faster, to jump higher and work harder than the guy lined up across from me.

Jordan River

Now jumping to present day life.  Our Campus had an awesome Sunday.  Our theme was, “Get Right With God.”  We had really cool stories lined up for people to tell about how God has impacted their lives.  We talked a lot about the Jordan River and water in Scripture.  It seems to me that water, especially the Jordan, carries some powerful significance to God.  Every time the Jordan is mentioned, it seems there is some transition in life, something leading to victory and hope.

  • Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan
  • Moses’ passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua
  • Elijah passing the mantle of leadership to Elisha

We challenged people to come to the banks of the Jordan.  To get their feet wet.  To make a commitment.  To dive all in for God.  To give Him full control of their lives.  To immerse themselves in the waters of baptism.

Then, we handed them a card.  We challenged them to fill out the card and to tell us about a commitment they might need to make.  We also asked them to tell us how we could pray for them.  What things in life were holding them back from giving God their all and how we could we be praying for them.

Then it happened.  I sat down that afternoon to read the cards.  I began to pray for individuals by name who were going through some very serious things in life.  And to think they trusted us enough to tell us what was going on behind closed doors.  I believe it was a huge moment in the life of our Campus.

One man wrote…

I want to serve as a better example for my family – wife and kids.  To live a life with God and Jesus in control.

And another…

…the strength to save my family.

Another…

Stronger family.

And still another said…

My marriage.  It is dying.

And this was just the beginning.  As I prayed for these people and families, I was overwhelmed with emotion for them.  I was blown away by their honesty and their stories.  And that’s when it hit me.  Do work!

Satan is doing work.  He’s working.  He’s getting after it.  He’s destroying lives.  He’s lying to people about what brings fulfillment and purpose.  Oh yes, Satan does work!

Am I?

Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’

Are you?

The field is there.  The people are ready.  The hearts and souls of people are open and ready for transformation.  As my friend Bryan would say, “It’s time to ‘Do work!'”

Organic!

Organic Bananas

Over the course of time, the word “organic” has become a bit confused.  Apparently it’s so confused that we have to label fruit as “organic” to distinguish it from non-organic fruit.  Don’t jump all over me just yet, I get it, okay.  Some fruits, vegetables and other foods have preservatives and fillers added to help keep them more fresh, longer.  What’s interesting to me is our culture’s passion to get back to organic.

Organic is natural, fresh, simple, healthy, real.  It’s grassroots.  There’s nothing else added.

No preservatives.

No fillers.

No additives.

Nothing.  It’s simply organic, natural, fresh, simple, healthy.

Our lives are so cluttered with so many things, that we are in a desperate search to get back to what’s organic; simple and natural.  As a society, we are desperately craving less fillers and preservatives.  And as a follower of Christ, I am finding the same in my relationship with God.

Over time, I have added so many fillers and preservatives to my relationship with God.  And eventually, the relationship I truly have with God is simply a “preserved” image of the real thing.  It’s not a real, fresh, simple, natural or healthy relationship, it’s one filled with junk to make it appear better and to help it hopefully last a little longer.

And then it happens.  I wake up one day and it hits me…my relationship with God is superficial.  It’s simply covered up with fillers and preservatives.  It’s why I grow tense and uneasy.  It’s part of why I become angry and frustrated with life.  I try to go through life on the additives of a relationship with God, only to find that the real thing has alluded my grasp.  As a result, my life is chaotic and upsetting.  Little things bother me.  Things just don’t seem right.  Then I realize, it’s time to get back to God.  And not the god I like to create in my head, but the One, True God, who desires more than anything to know me and have a relationship with me.  But it’s going to require cutting out a few additives (Jeremiah 29:13).

I have to cut…

See, developing an organic relationship with God means cutting out all the additives and fillers.  It’s surrendering every fiber of my being and allowing God to lead and rule in every area of my life.  Without that, the only relationship I have with God is simply unnatural.  It’s full of extras that dilute the purity of the relationship God wants to have with me.  It means surrendering my will to God’s.  It means aligning myself with what He has revealed in Scripture, not trying to align God with my thoughts and feelings.  It even means surrendering all the “laws” of Christianity to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  It means finding the God who is alive and well beneath all the mega-church, post-modern, missional, traditional, denominational conversations out there.

I want to experience God in His purest form. I’m tired of the additives and fillers.  They only screw things up.

What do you think it looks like to have an “organic” relationship with God?

What would you add to the list?

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