Our First Year Is In The Books

anniverary-social

God has done so much this past year.

God is going to do even more in the future.

Those are the two thoughts I’m carrying this week as we get ready to celebrate our one year anniversary as a church this Sunday, October 18th. There’s something so healthy about looking back and celebrating God’s grace. And there’s something incredibly inspiring about knowing we’re just getting started and there’s so much more to come.

God has been so faithful this past year. Four community groups have multiplied into nine groups that connect over 115 people to biblical community. We’ve had the privilege of baptizing thirteen people. God has enabled us to create three different strategic partnership designed to bring restoration to our city and world. Our first international mission team is currently serving in East Africa. On top of all that, we’ve seen Jesus restore and change so many lives.

For all of that, I honestly believe we’re just getting started. God has so much more for us in the future – new communities to impact, new ways to make the gospel visible, new people to welcome into our community. There will be new challenges, new risks and new miracles. There will be new ways to lean into God’s provision and new victories to celebrate.

On Sunday, we want to celebrate like we always do – in song and by studying God’s Word. But we also want to celebrate by giving. So, there will be an additional opportunity to give beyond our normal weekly offering. Here’s what I’m most excited about: that additional opportunity doesn’t benefit Restoration City at all. It’s totally for the good of our city, our country and our world. Our giving is going to go towards supporting the work of Casa Chirilagua here in DC, flood relief in South Carolina and Syrian Refugees through Convoy of Hope.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary as a church – by being reminded that our focus isn’t on ourselves, it’s on Jesus and his work in our world. We exist for the glory of Christ and the good of others.

So, come join us on Sunday. Come ready to worship in song, by studying God’s Word and by giving. I pray that our belief in the gospel will overflow in a wealth of generosity on Sunday (2 Cor. 8:2). I pray our generosity would be motivated by the tremendous generosity of Jesus, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)

See you on Sunday, Restoration City!

The Distracted Church

Distracted Church

It’s so easy for me to wander off the narrow path of ministry effectiveness and into the weeds of distraction.  I believe with everything in me that God has designed His church to be a brilliant display of Christ’s glory while we fight for the good of our city and world.  We’re called to be the peace makers and the prophets of our day.  We’re called to be salt and light.  We’re called to radiate faith, hope and love.

Yet, we waste so much time entertaining and impressing one another.

There are days when I can’t help but wonder if the church is tweeting, posting, pinning, periscoping, instagramming, conferencing, coffeeing, blogging, podcasting and webcasting ourselves into irrelevance.  All the while there are flood victims in South Carolina, Syrian refugees and victims of human trafficking in our own city.  There are stagnant Christians in our pews, hell-bound people in our work places and hurting people in our homes.

I don’t want to seem like a hypocrite for saying all of this on blog, so let me be clear: I don’t hate social media.  I use it and I’ve seen some brilliant uses of people leveraging their platform for the good of others and the advancement of the gospel.  I’m all for it!  But I wonder how much more effective we would be if we put down our devices and picked up the Word of God a little more frequently.

The Scriptures lay out a clear path to ministry effectiveness:

  • “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)  By the way, it worked.  Acts 6:7, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The path to ministry effectiveness is as clear as it is elusive: be a witness for Christ in our world, make disciples and build the whole thing on a foundation of the Word and prayer.  Use whatever means available (social media included) to move down that path.  But don’t allow them to become a substitute.

I pray for a church that is focused on our mission, the disciplines that undergird it and the incredible calling God has given us.  I pray for the humility to care less about digital impressiveness and care more about personal effectiveness.

Shaping Culture: Celebrating It (4 of 4)

Culture_Celebrate

Ironically, the most enjoyable discipline in shaping culture might be the most neglected – celebrating others who are modeling the culture you want to create.  If yesterday’s post was all about the need to say, “Hey, that’s not how we do things around here”, today’s is all about the need to say, “Hey, that’s EXACTLY how we do things around here.

This kind of celebration can take place in an email, a phone call, a text, a special lunch, or recognition in front of a larger group.  It can be a gift certificate, an unexpected coffee or time off.  It doesn’t matter how you celebrate.  All that matters is that the person knows why you are celebrating; it’s not because they’re generally awesome, it’s because of the specific way they handled a specific situation.

This seems so obvious but so many leaders ignore the power of celebration.  We’re wired to move on to the next challenge and find it hard to pause long enough to say good job in taking the last hill.  That’s a big mistake because we miss out on four benefits of celebrating:

  • It’s fun!  There’s something wrong when we stop enjoying a good party.
  • Often times people don’t know they’ve modeled the culture until you tell them.  Yesterday’s post talked about how many deviations from your culture come from unintentional wandering.  The same is true for many manifestations of your culture.  Don’t assume people know they got it right or why they got it right.  It’s our job as leaders to make it crystal clear.  Catching people doing the right thing is one of the most powerful culture shaping tools available to a leader.
  • Celebrating one person’s success becomes a vision casting, culture shaping exercise for the rest of the team.  If you celebrate publicly, everyone else has an aha moment themselves.  Plus, it shows them the path to being celebrated…that’s a path people like to take!
  • It shows everyone you really care about all of this culture stuff.  It shows it’s at the forefront of your mind, you’re constantly looking for it and care deeply about how this all gets lived out.

Who do you need to celebrate today?  Are you willing to send a quick text, make a call or send a gift card?  It’s not just being nice…it’s shaping your culture.