Calendars & Checkbooks

calendar-checkbook“Show me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll show you your priorities.”

I honestly can’t remember the first time I heard some version of that statement.  It’s been attributed to so many people that I have no idea who said it first.  But I know it’s true. It’s true for my life.  It’s true for yours.  And it’s true for our church.

It’s something I think about a lot for us at Restoration City.  It’s easy to talk about our values, come up with a nice website and sprinkle some vision into a sermon every now and again.  But it’s how we spend our resources – both time and money – that shows us our priorities.  

That’s why I love knowing that last year we gave slightly over $58,000 as a church to partners outside of our own walls.  For the record, that doesn’t include money raised or given through short term mission teams.  We gave to church plants, to local partners and to international partners.  We’re participating in God’s work in DC, Brooklyn, Kenya, Tanzania, Nicaragua and many other places.

That’s why I love knowing that ServeDC starts tonight and runs through this weekend.  We’ll be serving with nine different partners all over our city.  We’ll have Restoration City people cleaning up parks, working on Gunston Middle School, distributing meals and participating in many other tangible expressions of love for our city.

Could we do more?  Absolutely!  Am I satisfied with where we are? No!  But I love what God is building through this church.  I love measuring our success by how much we give away – in time and money.  By God’s grace, we’ll continue to give away more of both.  I want our calendar and checkbook as a church to be pleasing to God and to reflect His priority, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.“(Lk.19:10)

ServeDC: Undeniable Positive

servedc

If you’re around Restoration City at all for the next 2.5-3 weeks, you’re going to hear a lot about ServeDC.  You’ll find out it’s central to our vision as a church and you’ll find out we really, really want you to be involved in some way.  Please, join with us for an incredible 3 days of loving our city by serving our city.

ServeDC is something we’ve done as a church since before we launched our Sunday morning gatherings 2 years ago.  It’s a concentrated weekend of service where we mobilize as many people as possible to make as big an impact as possible in a short period of time.  We have opportunities for you to serve with 9 local partners starting on Thursday evening and running all the way through Saturday afternoon.  You’re more than welcome to sign up for one shift but we encourage you to sign up for more if you can.  We’re trying to blitz the city with the love of Jesus!

Lord willing, we accomplish three goals through ServeDC:

  • Give you a chance to meet other RCC people outside of your Community Group.  That’s why we host a cookout on Saturday evening – it’s a great chance to gather the whole church in a totally relaxed, social atmosphere.  It’s also why we encourage you to serve multiple shifts with multiple different groups of people.  Break out of your normal crew and make some new friends!
  • Connect you with long-term opportunities with local ministry partners.  We want you to serve with a partner that’s a good match for your passions and interests.  Do something that looks like fun to you and benefits a group close to your heart.  And go in open to the possibility that God might call you to be involved in that ministry beyond ServeDC.  Who knows?  God might use this weekend to connect you with a ministry that will be a huge part of the story He’s writing in your life over the next few years.
  • Show our city the restoring power of the gospel.  Let’s be honest, when most people think about Christians, “servants” isn’t the first word that comes to mind.  But if Jesus came “not to be served but to serve”(Mk.10:45) shouldn’t we be known for the same?  After all, He was the One who washed feet and told us to do the same. (Jn. 13:14-15)  We want our community to experience the love of Jesus through the ways we serve.

As a church, we talk a lot about having an undeniably positive impact on the world around us.  We aren’t just trying to keep Christians busy on a Sunday morning.  We want people who’ve never been through the doors of Restoration City to be grateful for our church.  There should be much joy in our city because our church exists (Acts 8:8).  ServeDC is one small step towards that goal.

And I’m asking you to join with us in having that kind of impact.  Please, get signed up now for one or more shifts.  It’ll only take you a few short minutes.  Click here to join us.

This Fall At Restoration City

Fall At Restoration City.jpg

These are really special days for us as a church.

It’s Wednesday morning and I’m still celebrating everything we saw God do this past weekend.  We planted Restoration City for days like last Sunday – days of salvation and days of celebration.  By God’s grace, the dream of a vibrant community that loves Jesus, one another and this city is becoming a reality.  And I believe God has so much more in store for all of us.

Over the last weeks, I’ve been praying the heart of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 over our church; that the gospel would come to us “not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”  Yes, it’s important that we sing the gospel and preach the gospel on Sundays.  Yes, the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rm.1:16).  Yes, our church is shaped by the gospel.  But if that ever becomes simply text on a website or doctrine in our heads, we’re in trouble.

I’m praying we will hunger and thirst for the power of God in our lives, in our church and in our city.  That’s what we need – the Holy Spirit of God to save sinners and send saints.  We need the rushing wind of God’s grace and love to blow through our Community Groups.  We need to be caught up in something so much bigger than ourselves. Something that can only be explained by the power of God.

I believe God wants to use 1 Thessalonians 1:5 to shape not just one weekend at Restoration City but this whole fall.  We’ve got an incredible few weeks ahead leading into ServeDC on October 27-30th.  I’m praying it’s a season of new life in Christ and new boldness in mission.  I’m praying we’ll be carried by the power of the Spirit like never before.

Will you join me in three simple commitments for this fall?

  1. Regularly praying 1 Thessalonians 1:5 over our church and your life.
  2. Boldly engaging with those around us who don’t know Jesus.  Invest in their lives.  Invite them to church.  Introduce them to Jesus.
  3. Welcoming those who are new to Jesus or church into our Sunday gatherings and Community Groups.

Nothing profound.  Just simple ways of participating in what God’s doing in our church and city.

I’ve never been more excited about what God is doing through our church than I am right now.  I pray we steward this season well.  I pray we’re able to hold out the grace and truth of Jesus in a way that’s worthy of the God we love so much.  I pray we see Him do what we can’t even imagine.  And I pray we never lose sight of the privilege it is to be a part of this together.

What A Weekend!!

ServeDC Spring 2016

What an amazing weekend we all just got to experience together!

Over the course of three days, 121 individuals worked a total of 198 three hour shifts with one of our seven partners.  I’m so grateful for every single person who participated in this incredible weekend, particularly for those of you who worked 2 or shifts!  And we should all be incredibly grateful to Caitlin Kammerman, Kaitlyn Rounds and their team for leading us so well this weekend.  The next time you see them, please let them know how grateful you are for their leadership!

One of the things we’ve said from the beginning is that we want Restoration City to have an undeniably positive impact on our city.  Even if people don’t agree with our theology, we want them to be grateful our church exists.  Sometimes that feels like a tall order in DC but this weekend is evidence that it’s possible and God is answering that prayer.

But our desire to serve the community isn’t rooted in a desire to establish a good name for ourselves.  It’s a reflection of the gospel – Jesus served and sacrificed for us so that we could live.  If that’s how He’s treated us, we need to extend the same grace to our neighbors and co-workers.  When we understand that, we realize we don’t need an event to give us permission to serve, we can walk into any and every situation in life ready to serve.

That’s the real legacy of ServeDC.  We don’t just want a weekend of service.  We’re praying for a lifestyle of service.

Now That Our Fast Is Over

Barren.jpg

I’m hoping you were able to participate in Restoration City’s fast in some way this week.  If you did, I hope God used it to ignite your hunger for Him and fuel a desire to see Him bear much fruit through us on Easter Sunday.  I’m also praying this fast wasn’t a one time experience but rather a catalyst for renewed pursuit of God’s mission in our daily lives.  Fasting shouldn’t leave us spiritually depleted.  It should clear the ground for fresh life to emerge.

In order for that to happen, we need to remember that fasting isn’t as much about depravation as it is about pursuit of intimacy with God.  If it’s only about seeing how long we can go without food, it’s a meaningless test of our willpower.  In fact, you can be quite committed to fasting and quite displeasing to God.  Consider His words to Israel through the prophet Isaiah:

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58:1-5

God found Israel’s fasting wicked because it was an inauthentic attempt to manipulate God.  They wanted to impress Him into blessing them more than they wanted to know Him.  We can’t fall into the same trap – we didn’t do this fast to show God how awesome we are.

We’ve been fasting because we want to know more of how awesome God is.  And if that’s the case, that desire will now be translated into action.  Again, from Isaiah:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Isaiah 58:6-8

In other words, genuine fasting fuels sustained action for the glory of God and the good of others.  God isn’t thrilled that we skipped a meal.  He’s thrilled when we get so close to Him that His heart for the world starts to beat in us.

That’s our challenge in the weeks ahead, Restoration City.  Don’t be impressed that we fasted.  Be determined that others would see the greatness of the God we love.  Maybe that means inviting someone to church on Sunday.  Or connecting with one of our ServeDC ministries.  Or getting to know a neighbor.  Whatever it means for you, that’s the part God finds most thrilling!

Is Anyone Better Off?

City We Love.jpg

Ever since this past Sunday at Restoration City, there’s been one question dominating my thoughts.  It’s born of the simple reality that in the Kingdom of God power is used to serve.  The all-powerful Son of God said it this way, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk.10:45)  Yes, Jesus served us all on the cross.  But He also wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the feet of His disciples.  And fed the hungry.  And healed the sick.  And gave sight to the blind.  And wept with friends.

To follow Jesus is to chose a sacrificial life of service for the good of others motivated by the joy of the gospel.  If we are truly living that out, there should be people in our neighborhoods, apartment communities, gyms, families and workplaces that are ecstatic that we are followers of Christ.  There should be a lot of people who would readily say they are better off because we’re in our lives.

Which brings me back to my question.  Here it is: “Who is better off because of me today?”  If you want to be more specific, try these variations: How is my spouse better off because of me today?  How about my kids?  How about my neighbors?  How about my co-workers?  How about my city?

Now, I know there won’t be a spectacular answer in every category for every one of us on every single day.  But shouldn’t there be some answer every day?  Shouldn’t we lay our heads down at night knowing that somehow someone is better off because of the way we used today?

That’s the kind of church we want to be.  That’s why we do ServeDC.  We love this city and we want it to be better off because we’re here.  We want to be a contributor to culture more than a critic.  We want to bless and serve this city.  So, if you haven’t gotten signed up for ServeDC yet, do it now.  While we’re preparing to serve our city, take a look at the lives right around you.  How can you serve them today?

Who is better off today because of us, Restoration City?

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!!

For The Good Of Our City

September 2014 ServeDC Team

September 2014 ServeDC Team

I loved being at Windmill Hill Park in Alexandria, VA this past Saturday morning as part of our first ever ServeDC experience as a church.  It was insanely hot, humid and fun!  As our team was busy power washing, scraping and clearing brush, I kept silently praying “Thank You, God” over and over.  I loved seeing so many from our church plant serving.  I loved how hard everyone was working – we seriously would be an amazing landscaping crew!!  I loved how much fun people were having and I loved seeing new faces.  To top it off, we were able to have several conversations with people from the neighborhood and county staff about who we are as a church, Jesus and the gospel.  It was a great day!

It’s also very much in keeping with what God calls Israel to do during their exile in Babylon, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)  At Restoration City, we want to live this out as people God has sent to DC.  We want to pray for our city and we want to seek the welfare of our city.  We want DC to be better because we exist as a church.  We want to be a blessing to our city and show DC the kind of grace we have received from Jesus.

Yes, our ultimate prayer is for spiritual awakening in this city – the kind of awakening that comes only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We love preaching that gospel in our sermons and in our daily conversations.  We do it joyfully and without apology.  But if we preach it without living it, we shouldn’t be surprised when our city takes little notice.  ServeDC is one small way of living the gospel we preach; the gospel that makes dead men come to life through faith in Jesus.

DC has plenty of critics and haters.  I love being a part of a church that loves this city and seeks its good.

ServeDC – September 6th

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s ServeDC event.  Here’s everything you need to know to join us and have a great experience.

ServeDC

Saturday, September 6, 2014
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Windmill Hill Park- near the volleyball court.
501 S Union St
Alexandria, VA 22314 (Map)

Important instructions:

Please join us promptly (for prayer & kickoff/task assignments) at 9 am wearing your RCC T-shirt.  If you don’t have one yet, please let us know, and we will provide you one on Saturday morning.  Please dress to get dirty and for using water, and bring a clean pair of work/gardening-type gloves. All other supplies will be provided. 

The forecast looks clear of rain, but could be hot, so please remember to bring sunscreen and water. If it does rain, please still plan to participate as this project is mostly in a tunnel so rain will not impact it.

RCC will be providing snacks and additional water as well.

RSVP Instructions:

If you have a CCB account, please RSVP to the event by clicking here: LINK

If you do not have a CCB account please email Caitlin Kamerman to tell her you plan to attend.

The Alexandria organization that has helped us coordinate the serveDC location has been wonderful, PLEASE help us show our appreciation by also signing up on their registration link below (this onlytakes a moment), so that they can get credit for our event participation.  Please register at: LINK