Waiting on the World to Change

I know that this is going to be sacrilegious for many of you, but I’m not a huge John Mayer fan. So much so, I had to check to see how his name was spelled. I’m not a hater. I would just say that I’m solidly in the neutral camp. If a song of his comes on, I’ll check other stations to see if there is a better song, but I don’t turn off the radio or switch to NPR or anything. Aren’t most John Mayer fans listening to NPR already? Is that an insult? I’m confusing myself.

There’s one John Mayer song in particular that I’m a little confused by–Waiting on the World to Change. Am I supposed to be inspired by that song? Is that a comforting song? A rallying cry? I don’t want to get labelled a hater for all you Mayer fans drinking lattes reading this. (is that an insult?) However, I find those lyrics uninspiring and a bit of a cop out.

I get the basic idea that “we” are not in charge of the government, so in some areas “we” are helpless. “We” can’t bring the soldiers back from war. Therefore, we wait. For what? Duh, the world to change. How does that happen? Waiting? I would like to suggest not.

I have a friend (really?) whom you should follow on the twitters. His name is Aaron Reddin. His twitter handle? Id? Username? is homelessheretic. Here is a guy when you get to know him thinks the world needs to change. He will tell you so in vivid language. He thinks the “fight ain’t fair.” He thinks the deck is stacked against the homeless and people should care more. He laments the government and the local church for not doing more.

He is not waiting on the world to change. He is changing the world, one person at a time. He is ministering to people, loving people and mobilizing more to help him. He is doing something and making a huge difference. He even has a van. You may be thinking, so what my grandpa has a van? Seriously, check him out. AaronReddin.com and find out about what he’s doing with that van to serve people.

We need so much more of that. I would rather have 100 people skeptical of the govt and organized church that are making a difference in the world, than 1000 nice people sitting in church waiting and wondering when the govt or the church (whoever that is) to do something about what they care about.

Questions: what are you passionate about? What people or need in the world has God put on your heart?
What are you doing about it? Are you waiting for the world to change? Or are you changing the world?

Coincidentally, we will be talking about this at church the next couple of weeks, but you don’t have to wait for that.

Grove Town Hall Part 2

December 2, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Hmm, didn’t you say part 2 would come “tomorrow” which would have been “two days ago” which would have been “Tuesday?”  Yes, yes, but I have a busy life.  It’s tough only working one day a week.  That’s how pastor’s are right?

Anywho, on with more from the Town Hall:

The elders got away for an overnight retreat.  We spent a good portion of our time talking about our mission statement.  What is it that God has called the Grove to be and do?  What are our values?  What makes the Grove, the Grove?  (That’s a sentence that makes more sense when you say it with the right inflection.  What makes the Grove, THE GROVE?  Written, it looks ridiculous).

As we began to think about what God has called us to, there are two passages that we believe God was bringing to the front of our discussions.  The first is the Great Commandment:

Matthew 22

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The second is the Great Commission:

Matthew 28

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

From these two passages we understand that the most important things that we can do as believers, and ultimately as a church as well, is to love God with all that we are and love others the way we love ourselves.

God has called us first and foremost to people who worship.  By this, we don’t mean simply singing worship songs, but in addition to that we need to live lives that show our love, gratitude and devotion to God.

The best way that we can show our love for others is by serving them and helping them have and develop a deep relationship with God.  We need to reach people who are separated from God.  Apart from a relationship with Jesus, people are lost and in desperate need of God.  He is calling us to be a church that is building relationships with non-Christians and sharing and showing our faith to them so that they can come to know him.

We also need to help people grow in their relationship with God.  We can go deeper with God, understand and know him better, love him more.  Being a Christian is not about “getting saved” and then living life in anticipation of eternal life after we die.  It is living that life now (John 10:10).

Grow to what end though?  Sometimes we feel like we grow just to grow.  God, however, is calling us take what we have and give it to others.  We need to be a church that sends people into the world to love and serve them.  God has uniquely gifted and impassioned each of us.  He wants us to use those gifts and passions to help reach the world for Jesus Christ.  We need to help people find those gifts and passions and then help them figure out the best place and way to use them.

Putting those four words (Worship, Reach, Grow, Send) together is the beginning of a mission statement.  We have not crafted it together into an incredibly pithy and memorable and awe-inspiring statement yet, but when we do, look out!  It will be centered around those 2 passages and those 4 words.  We believe that this is what God has called us to at the Grove Church.

Talk to you again tomorrow (wink, wink)

Grove Town Hall Part 1

November 29, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Well, I was gone from just about everything for a week.  When I got back, I discovered that the audio from the Town Hall meeting was no good.  Like Kip (would his last name be Dynamite as well?), I do love technology.  But sometimes it is problematic.  So, we shall remedy this by using other technology to get it to you.  The more I think about it though, this is probably better for you.  I would rather read a series of blog posts than listen to me talk for an hour.  That’s because I think my voice is annoying.  I’m sure you do as well.  Thanks for your patience.

Anywho, I will take some time this week and put different themes we talked about here on the old blog.  This way, if you weren’t there, you can catch up.  First, of course, you need to see this video–Have you been to the Grove? We opened the Town Hall with that.  Now that I have lowered your expectations, here is the first part of what we talked about:

More than anything, I really want to thank everyone for how kind everyone has been in our transition.  It’s not easy making a move like this, especially with 12 and 9 (now 10 and almost 13) year old girls.  You have loved us well and we have loved getting to know you guys.  With the exception of our house not selling, this transition has gone about as well as it could.  Everyone in our family has very quickly felt a part of the Grove Church.

I have also enjoyed building relationships with the elders and staff.  I have always believed that one of the foundational pieces to a healthy church is the relationship among the staff and elders.  Thankfully this has not been hard work.  It has been easy and a lot of fun to be able to get to know these great men and women, and I believe fairly quickly we have been able to become good friends.

The last four months (That’s right, it has only been 4 months.  Actually, it won’t be 4 months until Wednesday, but who’s counting?) have been an exciting time for the church as well.  We have seen an attendance growth of about 70% from the same time last year.  I know that it has been a hard year for the Grove and that is was a difficult transition.  I hope that it feels good to have some good momentum in the church.

We also have relaunched a youth (I know you are supposed to call it student ministry, but I get that confused with college students, so for now, youth it is) ministry.  We have started small, because that is what we are right now.  We have a guys small group and a girls small group.  Big thanks to Ty Carlson and Leah Burry for getting those kicked off.  They are both huge answers to prayer.

We have also seen a tremendous growth in the number of college students coming to the Grove.  Several people have asked me what we have done to see so many college students this fall.  The assumption has been that there must have been some kind of intentional strategy or recruitment campaign.  There hasn’t been.  I invited a handful of students that came from Fellowship Bible in Little Rock and that’s it.  What has happened has been an example of the power of enthusiasm and word of mouth.  Students have been bringing students.  I believe we have created an worship environment with quality music, friendly people and a relational teaching style that has been very attractive to college students.  BTW, this style is also very attractive to families and singles.  It’s just that word of mouth and enthusiasm moves much quicker among students.  As of now, we do not have a formal college ministry.  We have a few small groups and we are planning perhaps quarterly events (we have had a lunch so far).  We want to start slowly.

This is a ministry principle that we are using everywhere.  Let’s do one thing well before trying to do two things well.  We don’t want to try to do every ministry possible.  Also, let’s not try and do everything imaginable within ministries, like children’s, youth, etc.  Let’s do the core well first and then do the next thing well.

Well, part one has been mostly update.  Later to come, we will talk about our facility challenges, our financial situation, getting to the next level in the Greenhouse/kids ministry and most importantly the process we are in crafting a new mission statement.  Talk to you tomorrow.