On The Field


Sundays are my favorite day of the week.  Our church gathers to worship Jesus.  My family is there and I’m surrounded by people I love.  We sing, we celebrate, we hear from God, we invest in each other’s lives.  In a lot of ways, I wish every day could be Sunday.

But Monday comes every week.  The church scatters throughout our city.  Life starts happening.  Meetings, soccer practices, commutes and projects threaten to overwhelm us. It’s easy to leave the message of Sunday behind.

What if we learned to see Monday – Friday differently?  What if they become every bit as important as Sunday?  What if we believed the worship of God is carried out through the mission of God in a city desperate for the hope of God?

Here’s how I think of Monday – Friday.  I feel like a coach whose team is on the field while I’m on the sidelines preparing for our next huddle.  Sure, I try to get in the game in my own ways – developing relationships with neighbors and people at the coffeeshop.  But I spend a lot of my week with Christians.  You have the privilege of carrying the name of Jesus to people who know nothing of the gospel of Christ.  They’re in the cube next to you right now.  You had lunch with some of them.  You’ll go out with some of them after work today.  Maybe you’re in a meeting with some now.

Church – you’re in the game!  God has you at your job for reasons that go so much deeper than earning a paycheck and getting health insurance.  You’re an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).  You’re there to work with excellence (Col. 3:23), to put others ahead of yourself (Phil. 2:3) and to be salt and light. (Matt. 5:13-14)  You get to carry the hope of Jesus to your world today.  That’s every bit as big a deal as singing songs and hearing a sermon on Sunday.  In many ways, that’s the point of the songs we sing and the message God speaks to us through His word.

So, as you’re on the field today, know this:

  • I’m thinking about you and praying for you.  I care how you’re doing on the field.  The stakes in the game of eternity are huge and I’m cheering you on every step of the way.
  • Don’t waste this gift.  Jesus has done so much to put you right where you are today.  He gave you an education, a job, the ability to get out of bed this morning and the gift of eternal life.  Don’t waste that by withdrawing from the very people He’s sent you to reach.
  • I want to be the best coach I can be but I can’t take the shot for you.  You are the one God has put in your office, not me.  But He’s given you the power of His Spirit.  That’s a billion times better than having me tag along to answer the tough theological questions people will fire at you if you start talking about Jesus.  You have the resurrection power of Christ in you.  He’ll make you adequate for the task at hand.

Play well today, team.  I love you.  I’m cheering for you and I’m praying for you!

Praying For Baltimore

If you’re like me, you spent much of last evening watching the news of the horrible events unfolding in Baltimore.  Maybe, like me, you spent some time texting with family and friends who live in Baltimore to check on them and offer some encouragement.  And, maybe, you took the time to pray.

Right now the most important thing we have to offer Baltimore is our prayers.  I want to encourage you to pray throughout the day today for peace, justice, and calm to sweep through the streets of Baltimore.

Some of you have also asked what else we can be doing as a church since we’re just down the road from Baltimore.  One of the benefits of being part of The Summit Network is that we are connected with likeminded churches around the country, including one in Baltimore.  I’ve been emailing with Brad O’Brien, the lead pastor at Jesus, Our Redeemer in Baltimore to let him know we’re willing to come along side their church and city any way that’s needed.  For now, Brad agrees that prayer is the best thing we can offer.  Should that change, he’ll let me know and we’ll see what we can do to help our neighbors in Baltimore.

God brings good out of evil.  I’m praying part of the good He brings out of this situation is a renewed longing in all of our hearts for Jesus and the restoration He offers a broken, hurting and frightened world.

ServeDC Is Here!

IMG_1500This is a huge weekend in the life of Restoration City!  I’ve been waiting for months for ServeDC and am so excited that it’s finally here.

Over the next two days, 84 people will fill 124 volunteer slots (some are working double shifts) and serve in locations from parks, to rec centers to pregnancy support centers.  We’ll wrap the whole thing up with a cookout on Saturday evening and our weekly gathering on Sunday morning.

This is what we’re about as a church.  We believe in a God who restores.  He breathes life into dead souls.  He rebuilds all that sin destroys.  He takes back the years the locusts have eaten.  When we remember that, we see that the roots of ServeDC run much deeper than who we are as a church.  They go all the way down to who God is as Creator, Redeemer and Restorer.

Restoration City, remember why we’re doing this. We want to demonstrate the character and mission of God to our city.  This isn’t about us getting credit, impressing people, earning God’s favor or doing something that makes us feel good.  It’s not about growing the church or keeping us busy.  It’s about demonstrating the heart of God.  We want DC to know restoration is possible!

If you can’t join us this weekend, I would love to have you praying for us and for the city we love.  Would you pray that simple acts of service will plant seeds that bloom into eternal life?  Would you pray for conversations with those we serve?  Would you pray that DC would awaken to the restoration we find in Jesus?

We’ve got such a great weekend ahead.  I can’t wait to see how God uses it!!

DoSomethingDC’s Christmas Plans

At the center of the Christmas story is an infant King who was born to ransom His people from their sin.  The King of all glory came to live a life of humble service, outrageous sacrifice and selfless love.  The One who created the universe left the throne of heaven for the throng of humanity.

We’ll never fully experience the joy of Christmas if we don’t find ways to free our hearts from the greed, stress and self-indulgence that can so easily sneak into our hearts this time of year.  Finding a way to serve this Christmas is really about finding a way to maximize our joy this season.

That’s why I’m so excited for the work our DoSomethingDC team has done in creating two different ways for us to serve our city through our ministry partners.

Our friends at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center have a huge need for diapers for families who can’t afford them.  They’ve told us the one thing we could do that would have the largest impact this Christmas is help replenish their supply of diapers.  So, we’re collecting diapers at our worship gatherings on Sunday, December 14th and 21st.  All you need to do is go buy a pack of diapers (any size) and bring them with you to Restoration City.

Our friends at Casa Chirilagua are hosting a Christmas party for the community they serve on Saturday, December 20th from 7-9 pm.  They are looking for a number of volunteers to serve with them in very specific capacities.  I’m so grateful that God opened up a door for us as a church to help defray some of the cost of this party.  But I would love to see a number of you join Laura and I in serving the Casa Chirilagua community the evening of the 20th.  You can get more info and sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e4eafa92ca64-20142

I don’t ever want us to lose sight of the fact that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45).  Following Jesus means adopting that same mindset and translating that mindset into action and generosity.  I hope you don’t miss the chance to be a part of DoSomethingDC this Christmas season.

Build Partners, Not Ministries

This past Sunday, we wrapped up the sermon series “Our House” by looking at the third component of our mission statement, “Live For Restoration.”  I had been looking forward to this talk for a long time and love being part of a church that seeks the welfare of our city (Jeremiah 29:7).  At Restoration City, seeking the welfare of our city is something we do in partnership with other local organizations.  We’re not trying to build our own outreach ministries.  We’re trying to connect people from Restoration City with existing organizations.  Put simply: we build partners, not ministries.

That’s a pretty big paradigm shift for many who come to us from a churched background so I wanted to lay out the rationale for why we build partnerships instead of ministries.  The argument boils down to five essential benefits.

  1. Leverage The Expertise Of Our Partners.  The decision to partner is rooted in humbly admitting that we don’t always know what’s best and there are others who do.  I’m trained to preach, develop leaders and make disciples.  I don’t know the best practices for serving a teenage mom or immigrant family.  Partnership is about putting the needs of our community ahead of our need for control.
  2. Focus On Our Mission.  This is closely related to #1.  If we spent all of our time trying to replicate what others are already doing well, we wouldn’t have enough time to focus on the things God has called us to do.  Partnership is about creating margin for a healthy discipleship culture.
  3. Keep A Leaner Staff.  Churches can tie up a lot of money paying people to reinvent wheels.  I would rather free up resources to invest in our mission and in our partner organizations.  Partnership is about good stewardship.
  4. Stay Kingdom Focused.  Working with others is the most tangible way to remind ourselves that the Kingdom is more important than any one local church.  Restoration City isn’t the hope of Washington; Jesus is and He’s building His church in wonderfully diverse and interconnected ways.  Partnership is about leveraging our church for the benefit of the Church.
  5. Double The Impact.  By serving through partnerships, we’re able to minister to both the people served by a ministry and our co-laborers.  The relationships we build with co-laborers are as significant as the relationships we build in the communities we serve.  Partnership is about exponential impact.

Every church needs to follow the leading of God in how they love and serve their communities.  For us at Restoration City, that means a deep commitment to building partnerships instead of ministries.  You can learn more about our partner organizations on our website: http://restorationcitydc.com/dosomethingdc/.