“The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.
Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.”
I know it is naive for a near 50 year old to say this, but I hope God is still calling me to something new when I’m 75.
I hope He continues to call me to walk by faith, stretches my small dreams into big ones, and motivates me to more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t want to miss a moment of what God has for my life.
How about you?
“If it weren’t for those __________ churches…”
I will never forget that statement.
I was in my mid-twenties, serving on a board of the local non-profit. We were discussing how we could raise more support for the organization. I had participated most of my working career (which was obviously short at that point), financially contributing personally and helping them raise funds. Every year we had the same discussion. How could we raise more money to do more good?
In the middle of our discussion, a greatly respected and leading businessman in our community made that statement. “If it weren’t for those _______churches we would have plenty of money. All churches do is take from the community, serve their own interests, and rob the community of needed money for charity.” The room instantly echoed and agreed with his bold remark. I was young and intimidated, so I said nothing.
Honestly, however, those words stung. As an active member of one of the largest church in town, I didn’t believe anything he was saying. Our church, along with most churches in our community, were doing good things to help people. If all we did was change people’s lives and send better people back into the community, we would be doing good things, but there were many church-connected ministries helping people in our city. Not to mention, many of the top contributors to this organization were active members of some of those same churches. (I was one of them.)
I never forgot those words though. It shaped me and my view of ministry.
Years later, when God placed the dream on my heart to plant a church in my hometown, I knew some of what that church would look like. Not that I seek the approval of man, but I wanted to be a part of a church that reversed that paradigm some have from the outside looking into the church. I wanted to be part of a church that would truly make a difference in our community, so much so that if we were gone, people would miss us.
One of the first things we did as a church was to partner with our city to reach some low income, impoverished areas of the community. For the past several years, once a year, we have put together as many as 1,400 people to invest in people outside the walls of our church. We sent over 800 people into our schools to meet the requests of principals in teachers completing things their budgets couldn’t afford to do. We participated with local radio stations to gather thousands of pounds of food for the poor. We’ve helped to launch a ministry to homeless people and one to military wives. We’ve been consistently called upon by our community to help with local festivals and events, and even by our mayor to help in flood recovery efforts.
My wife, who works in a local credit union and is active in the community is frequently asked, “Are you part of that church that’s always helping people?” We love that question. We both get it often.
I think our intentional investment is one of the primary reasons our church has grown into one of the fastest growing churches in America in a little over 6 years.
Please understand, I’m not trying to brag about what we are doing. I believe other churches are making a huge difference in their community; certainly many more than ours. I simply want to encourage any church I lead to show our city the love of Jesus and maybe even encourage your church (and mine) to do more. I think we have a better chance of reaching our cities for Christ if they know we care. The more we get out of our buildings and meet real needs, the more we’ll have opportunities to share the hope we know is in Christ.
In my time at Grace, we’ve tried to be intentional about letting our community know we love them…and so far…it is working. I’ve got a new assignment in ministry ahead and in my discussions so far, I’m encouraging this church also to greatly invest in it’s community.
Share with me. What is your church doing to display the love of Christ to your community in a practical way?
This is a guest post by Patrick Morley and his team at Man in the Mirror Ministry. I fully support the work they have done and are doing to reach men for Christ. The book by Patrick Morley had a profound impact on my life and I encourage you to consider this new opportunity.
Here are some thoughts from Patrick Morley from Man in the Mirror:
See if you agree with this…
• Can you see any way of ever getting society right unless we get the church right?
• If that’s true, can you see any way of ever getting the church right unless we get families right?
• If you’re still with me, can you see any way of ever getting families right unless we get marriages right?
• And, can you see any way of ever getting marriages right unless we get men right?
Sure, every now and then you hear about a woman who rips her family apart, but even then it’s usually after years of emotional neglect. It really is about the men.
How can we help get men right? To become a disciple of Jesus is the highest honor to which a man can aspire. To be born again and not become a disciple is like joining the Army and getting a rifle that you never learn how to clean and shoot.
The good news is that thousands of leaders and churches are learning how to disciple men so they can walk with God in our kooky culture. How do they do it?
For my PhD dissertation I studied the question, “Why do some churches succeed at men’s discipleship while others languish or fail?” I wanted to know from a management perspective, “What are the factors that lead to success or failure when implementing a men’s discipleship program?” And I wanted to discover, “What are successful pastors doing differently than the pastors of ineffective or failed ministries to men?”
To get at the answers, I employed multiple-case-study research to compare and contrast churches with effective men’s discipleship programs to churches with ineffective or failed programs.
The factors that differentiated the highly effective churches were….
1. A senior pastor with the vision to disciple every man in the church,
2. The determination to succeed no matter what, and
3. A sustainable strategy to make disciples.
I’m so tired of watching men go to events, get all amped up, charge out determined to do better, soar briefly, then glide (or crash) back to earth. In my experience these men are deeply frustrated that they can’t sustain the change. It doesn’t have to be that way. Thousands of churches have figured it out. But how do we get the word to those churches that are still in the dark?
At Man in the Mirror, the ministry I founded 25+ years ago, we’ve launched an initiative to hire 330 full-time Area Directors located throughout the United States to help churches more effectively disciple their men. Each Area Director will have a territory of 1,000 churches, which will put “boots on the ground” close to churches and men. We have a lot of early momentum, and the first 30 Area Directors have been appointed.
Now we need to surface scores of new candidates. We’re praying for men who are passionate about Christ, men’s discipleship, and who love the church. You can find out everything you need to know HERE. Join us in our fight to save our society and build the Kingdom.
Go HERE now to join this effort.
Editor’s Note: For 25 years Pat and his organization, Man in the Mirror, have focused on men’s discipleship. They’ve trained thousands of church leaders. In 2009 they reached the milestone of impacting 10,000,000 men for Christ. Their new goal is to see “10,000,000 new men leading powerful transformed lives in Christ by 2020.” Their new Area Director strategy is putting “boots on the ground” close to churches and men.
What if I saw my job as a mission field?
Okay, maybe my job is not a good example…fair enough…
Obviously my job IS a mission field.
But, what about you?
What about you who are not in a paid “missionary” role?
What if the church sent missionaries into the world? The real world…
Into the marketplace
Into politics and government
Into Hollywood and the film industry
Into the service industry…
What if an assembly line in a factory became a warehouse of faith?
Imagine a plumber shows up at a house, not only to fix a pipe, but to share a kind word on behalf of Jesus…
It’s a radical idea I know…
But what if?
What do you think?
Here’s a guest post from 11 year-old Mallory Fundora. Mallory and her family are active members of Grace Community Church. I love her vision and passion. She reminds me of Isaiah 11:6 “and a little child will lead them”. Be inspired…
Here are the words of Mallory Fundora:
In October 2011 I sat down to write my Christmas list for my parents, I looked around my room and I realized there was nothing I needed, nothing I wanted. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about the children in Africa, and how they weren’t going to get Christmas presents, and there was a lot of things that they needed. So, I sent my mom an email with my Christmas list, one thing on it, to help Africa.
See, in August of 2010 the Ugandan Orphan Children’s Choir came to my church to perform, and I got to meet the children, and they were amazing. They were so loving, and just wanted to hug me and hold my hand. My mom had also started doing work for a couple of organizations that helped in Uganda, so she had taught me about the children there.
The day after I sent the email my Mom and I sat down and talked about what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to help. I contacted Amazima Ministries and Project Have Hope and I told them what I wanted to do, and I asked them how I could best help them. That is how Project Yesu was born. My goals at first were simple, I wanted to raise $600 to sponsor 2 children, one from Amazima and one from Project Have Hope. When you sponsor a child, it pays for food, medicine and sends them to school. I also decided I wanted to send Christmas cards to the children in Uganda, I mean who doesn’t like to get a card, it makes you smile. So I drew two different card designs and I contacted a local printing company and asked them if they would donate the printing of 650 cards, they did.
So I started to tell people about Project Yesu, and my mom helped me start a blog so people could read about it. I met with my Children’s pastor and asked if our youth group could help me with the cards, because I wanted them to be personal, so I needed a lot of help to write out 650 cards. I also spoke to my youth group, and told them about Project Yesu and about the children in Uganda and asked them to help me raise money. Every week I set up a booth at my church to tell people about my project, and the word spread.
In only 8 weeks I raised over $2,400 and I was able to sponsor 7 children. It was way more then I had originally planned on and it was great. I got to meet some wonderful people, and tell them my story. I was invited to go to WAYFM a Christian radio station because they learned about my project, and I was even on TV. The NBC station out of Nasvhille did a story on Project Yesu.
I read a quote one day from Mahatma Ghandi that said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. That’s what I want to do, I want to be the change, I want to make a difference, I want to help people. Everyone thinks kids are selfish or that we’re just kids and we can’t do anything like this. I want to show people what a difference one person can make. If someone, because they heard about me, or met me, decides that they can be a change too, then it will spread from me, to that person, to another person and so on. Kids have good ideas, and you know what? We don’t know all the reasons why it won’t work, we just know we what we want to do.
I know with Project Yesu, I am making a difference, not only in the lives of the seven children in Uganda who now have food, medicine and can go to school. But I am making a difference in the lives of my family, my friends, my teachers and even people I have never met before.
I want Project Yesu to continue to spread and grow, and to do that I need people like you, who are reading this post to spread the word and to help me. My goals for 2012 is to raise $4,500 – who knows maybe I’ll double that this year or even triple that and be able to help more and more children in Uganda. I plan to travel to Uganda in December of 2012 to hand deliver the Christmas cards to the children, to meet my sponsored children and to love on the children of Uganda who have changed my life.
I am selling T-shirts and wristbands to raise funds, and I am also looking for families, groups, classrooms or anyone to be a part of the “Be The Change” campaign by collecting coins to donate towards Project Yesu.
So I have accepted the challenge to be the change…. Will you?