Happy 20th birthday Josiah! So grateful to have you here to celebrate!
You know it is a dirty word. Some of your people probably even hate to hear it come from your mouth. That word is “CHANGE.” In fact, so many churches have avoided this word that they have ended up becoming little more than country clubs or short-term “pit-stops” for people that get their feathers ruffled a bit at their previous church (who will only be at your church until their feathers get ruffled again). In many churches there is no relevance of its mission to day to day life of the people that attend. It becomes little more than something to check off the list of “spiritual duties” to perform for the week. And this is only one symptom of churches that do not change: they become isolated, consumer driven and self-seeking individually as well as corporately. I love what Brad said in the chapter “It’s All About Delivery.”
Jesus revealed the Father’s love to those who were broken, guilty and far from God. He didn’t isolate Himself from them, nor should His followers today.
I appreciated the way that Brad approaches and lays out the process of change that he took his church through. Thought there were times of uncomfortable confrontation and even losing some people who could not see the vision, Brad was still very sensitive to the nature and speed of change that he led his church through. Brad’s desire to change was tempered by a Biblical view of the church and the mission that it assigned. The change he took his church through was also based on Scriptural principles and a desire to remain theologically centered. Another thought that Brad shared that really impacted me was this:
By aligning our vision to God’s eternal principles rather than specific practices, we can stay the course even as we continue to change many of the ways we do ministry.
Change can be difficult. Especially if a church does not have a culture of change established. Change is not to be feared, but embraced so that we have the greatest opportunity to make an impact for the Gospel in the day we live in.
I would highly recommend this book to any pastor or church leader that is looking to lead effective change in their church.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers with the request that I give an honest review.
Guess what I have noticed at the gym this week? The “new year crowd” is already gone. That sure did not last long! Maybe it is just a fluke and everyone had to go out of town this week or just could not get up early to work out. But either way, they are not there.
How are you doing on your life-change decisions? Have you faltered? That is OK! Don’t quit! Just get back at it. Daily make the decision to do right, to take a step to live for God!
Proverbs 24:16 says
for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…
That is pretty good news for those of us that are human! We WILL fall. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL sin. But did you see what that verse says – “a righteous man falls.” Yes, the “righteous man.” He falls, but he gets back up! God’s grace does not overlook sin, it just says your sin does not hold you down – and it gives you the power to get back up!
Big events and moments are wonderful to experience and be a part of. That conference, missions trip or huge community outreach event that you are a part of has the ability to emotionally charge you up and bring excitement to your life. But once it is over, what then?
Before you misunderstand what I am about to say, let me be clear: I like BIG events! I go to conferences and have big events held by my church for our community. I love missions trips and think that everyone should go on at least one - preferably while they are young! So I am not against the annual events or large scale experiences that you can be a part of.
Those conferences and missions trips can bring about life-change in a person, but the reality is this: Real life-change is a day by day process. You may be motivated by a large event or experience to change your life, but the proof of that is played out as you make decisions each and every day that validate the life-change you are making.
In other words, don’t just tell me you want to be closer to God because of that experience you just had, do something to make it happen! What good is it to say you want a closer relationship with God, but yet you will not take the time to read His Word and pray. Don’t tell me you love the people on the mission field you just went to, but yet you do not serve on a consistent basis loving people in your local church ministry or loving people you rub shoulders with every day.
Real life change is evidenced in the way you live each and every day. Small deposits, made on a consistant basis, bring great change!
It is just like working out. You cannot go to the gym one time, for five hours, and think it will do much for you. But go ten times for 30 minutes and you will start to see results!
Real life change is the result of consistant deposits into that which brings about the change that you are looking for.
Start changing your life – one day at a time!
We ended the year with a pancake breakfast and celebration of what God has done. Many of our people gave testimonies of God’s working in their life and shared the blessings of being a part of the Body at CCC.
As a church, we celebrated:
- Over 20 people that came to Christ
- 7 people taking their next step of Baptism
- 18 people that took the step of Church membership
- A 33% attendance increase over the year
- Many, many people stepped up to make a difference by serving others in ministry both in the church and outside the church at things like our Second Saturday opportunities.
- Over half of our weekly attenders are studying God’s Word in LifeGroups
- And, the church adjusted to a crazy new Lead Pastor!
We are blessed! I cannot wait to see how God leads us in 2013 to love Him, and to love others by helping people take next steps towards Him!
We also showed this video last Sunday of our year-in-review as a church.
Don’t make resolutions… make life changes!
I know, it may be a matter of just wording to some, but the idea is this:
Every year people make resolutions to “do better” in areas of life. They are well-intentioned and certainly heart-felt.
It may be:
- losing weight
- being better organized
- reconnecting with friends or family
- doing better financially
Those things are all great. In fact, I have made some of those same resolutions. But until I actually did something about any area of resolution, they were at best empty words.
We even do the same in our spiritual life. We will:
- “Live more” for God
- Spend more time reading the Bible and in prayer
- Reach out more to people
- You fill in the blank
Nothing happens by good intentions. It takes action. Action YOU decide to take.
J Oswald Sanders said,
“We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be.”
The truth is this: until you actually DO something to change, nothing will happen. You can wish for it all you want, but YOU have to make the decision to take a step: to wake up earlier to read and pray, to step out and serve other people, to be more generous with your time and money.
The question is not “can you?” – but “will you?”
Here are a few ideas and resources to start:
- Find a church, start attending and get plugged in
- Bible reading plans: http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans
- Join a Bible Study group: (for all my peeps at Christ Community Church, go here: http://wp.me/P2x6el-49 )
- Schedule time to go and serve together as a family (your church probably has a few things you could do!)
Whatever it is, make a life change! Decide to DO something and then take action on it! Change your life… starting today!
Today is Josiah’s birthday, so I want to say “happy birthday son” and take a moment to share publicly that I am proud of you. You love Jesus and have been such an display of God’s grace as you have gone through the process of healing after your accident. You still bear, and always will, the physical marks of God’s grace in your life. Those scars are there to always remind you of His love for you, and that He has a great plan for you. When you look on those scars, remember that. You have been an inspiration to many. Continue to use that for God’s glory. Here is your story, or better yet, God’s story written in your life over the last 15 months.