Category Archives: evangelism
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All I ask is that you pay for shipping if you live far away from me. =)
I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt – Antonucci
- The Leadership Lessons of Jesus – Briner & Pritchard
Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
- Too Small To Ignore – Stafford
- Jesus Wants To Save The Christians – Bell (eBay)
Guerrilla Lovers – Antonucci When Leadership and Discipleship Collide – Hybels
- The Prodigal Hugging Church – Wright
- Taking A Stand – Knowles
- The Purpose Drive Life – Warren
- If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat – Ortberg (eBay)
- Planting Growing Church for the 21st Century – Malphurs
- Faith In The Game – Osborne (eBay)
- Emerging Churches – Gibbs & Bolger (eBay)
In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day – Batterson
- Creating Web Sites – Crowder & Bailey
Building A Web Site For Dummies – Crowder
There you have it. Let me know.
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.
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.
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?
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!
So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where has Stan been?” Well, I’m still alive. That’s a good start (at least for some of you I guess).
The real question is, why haven’t you blogged in 3 months (or however long it has been)? The answer is a good one. You’re never going to believe this. I…have…been…freaking…busy!!!
That’s right folks, my answer to my weird absence is, I’m busy.
However, in the midst of my crazy, busy start to a summer, I have found a few minutes to touch base with you about something that has absolutely been annoying me for quite some time. That’s right, you don’t hear from me for months, and the first thing I say is, “I’m annoyed.” Sorry for the negativity, it’s just where I am.
Over the last few weeks I have been flipping through radio stations where I live in Northern Virginia. Let me just say, there’s nothing good on. I want to make sure you understand my sentiment, that even includes “positive” radio. Yeah, you know them. The “Christianese” guys on the radio who don’t say they’re Christian, but they’re just so “positive.” In other words, there isn’t much on.
Here’s where I think God is trying to tell me something. I turned on the radio (yes, I hear you. I need an iPad to listen to Pandora while cruising the highway. I totally agree with you.) when I got in the car and started flipping through stations. One of the first stations I landed on had a caller on the line. It was a lady. I missed the context, but didn’t take me long to pick up where they were. Not a quote, but this was her story…
Yeah, I do that all the time. One time, I asked my boyfriend if he minded if I flashed an attendant so we could get free parking.
Of course, I changed that station, only to find another talking about this…
Well, I just think you should do whatever makes you feel good and happy. Maybe you shouldn’t be with your husband if he doesn’t make you happy. You need to follow your heart girl, and do what feels right.
And still another…
The only way to be happy is to find it within yourself. You’ve just got to look inside of you.
At this point, I had all but given up on humanity. And radio in the DMV. Here’s what God is telling me in my search for something decent to listen to on the radio…
- Humanity is broken and we desperately need to be
- The worldview that many people are living by is leading them to heartbreaking decisions and a painful existence.
- When it comes to Northern Virginia, I need to help people develop a biblical worldview.
Here’s where you come in. I would love to hear what you are doing in your ministry, para-church or other organization, to help people develop a worldview that will actually make an eternal difference in their lives.
Everyone lives by some worldview. How are you helping connect people to a biblical one?
Have you heard the news? It’s the end of the world. Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe. He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again. His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation. However, he believes he is back on track again.
It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic. However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.
Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words. It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus. It is this same Jesus who also said this…
Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.
Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business. Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s none of your business. You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Let’s recap |
1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.
2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.
3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.
There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time). The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping? What should we do with his claims? Where do we land on this issue?
Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time? If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ? Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return? Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something? Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?
Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?
Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism? (Acts 2:38)
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night. Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world. Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that. However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.
What does that mean for you?
Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train. hahah =)
The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011. The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.
At the onset of the news, I was so excited. I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military. I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them. I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit. I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.
Then I woke up Monday morning. I felt different. I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right. My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American. Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead? How would Jesus have responded?” I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.
I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day. I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions. I have read the arguments. I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people). I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.
Here is where I land |
I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!
I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.
I am happy about that.
I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.
I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other. Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with. From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again! Praise God for that.
I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!
What do you think?
Today was an amazing day! The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.
I sat amazed today. A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world. Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more. There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!
God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do. I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.
As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.
- “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!” -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
- “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!” -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
- “Don’t plant churches. Plant Jesus!” -Neil Cole, CMA Resources
When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself. I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet. Maybe some day. For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on. I believe that God is up to something big. And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.
And today also held a few fun surprises. It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church. It was also fun to shoot a video with him. No, really.
I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.
I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.
I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.
Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up. Which is very likely.
Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.
And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.
What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?
What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?
Jesus asks a lot of me. He has high expectations of me. And to be quite honest, His standard is not an easy one to reach. Maybe that’s why He says the road to destruction is wide and the road to salvation is narrow. In Luke 9, Jesus is talking to a crowd about what it means to follow Him. This is how He describes what it means to be a disciple.
Luke 9:23 – “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
That is no easy task. I mean, the cross was where criminals went to be tortured and die. It’s where people hung for days, starving to death while they urinated and defecated all over themselves. It’s where the smell of blood and sweat mixed under your nostrils. You simply died in your own shame and filth. It was the most gruesome way to die ever devised by mankind (in my opinion).
And that’s the standard for those who want to be followers of Christ is that on a daily basis, they take up their cross and follow Him. Daily cross-carrying, is the standard of discipleship for those claiming to follow Christ. The cross is very symbolic of your own death. Jesus carried His own cross to His death. Criminals carried their crosses to their death. In other words, Jesus wants me to die to myself and only live for one person; Him.
Being a disciple means that you are a follower, a student of someone. If I want to follow Jesus more closely, I need to study Him more. I need to spend more time in the Gospels, absorbing every move and conversation. I need to seek after Him as if I believe I was really lost without Him (and I do). And when I have discovered Him in a whole new way, I need to take His radical life and begin to replicate it on a daily basis.
I need to love the unlovable.
I need to serve even when it’s not in my best interest.
I need to teach as if eternity hung in the balance.
I need to spend time with the least of these.
I need to give all that I have, 100% of the time.
And no matter how far I think I have come, there is always a next step. There is always someone else to love. Someone to serve. Someone who needs to hear that Jesus is the way to God. I’m thankful for the words of Paul in Philippians 3…
Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,tbut I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
I’m so thankful for Christ. I’m so thankful for the forgiveness He offers me. I’m so thankful for grace. I’m so thankful for an example of how to live life. I know I will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but I’m going to continue striving toward what I am called to. And I’m called to be more like Jesus.
What do you think about discipleship?
What do you need to do today to be more like Jesus? Tomorrow?