Thursday, April 20, 2017

Luke Recap Part Two

We wrapped up the Gospel of Luke this past week! I have learned and grown so much and Luke has become one of my favorite books in the Bible. Here's 6 through 10 on the list.

6. Get off your donkey.
Luke 10 was a powerful chapter for me. The importance of the Good Samaritan passage can't be understated. The calling to look after our neighbor, particularly in their needs, is huge in Luke. And the religious/spiritual people didn't make the time to help the guy in need. But the underdog, outsider, unclean Samaritan makes the move. Gets off his donkey and helps. Neighboring demands we Notice Stop and Engage.

Often I have read the Good Samaritan text and seen myself as the religious or the Samaritan, but more and more I've realized that I'm the guy in the ditch. Broken, beaten, robbed, and left for need of rescue.

And as we consider the call to get off our donkey, we realize what Jesus did in Jerusalem. He rode in on a donkey, and wound up on a cross. We get off our donkey because he got off his.

7. Mary and Martha
Frantic pace and busyness is celebrated in our culture. Productivity and activity are signs of status and importance. And yet Mary and Martha are a telling story of what is needed. Jesus affirms Mary for sitting at Jesus' feet. Martha has to be pissed. Seriously? I'm the one being hospitable. I'm the one serving. I'm the one making sure everyone has their needs met. I'm the one that is making people feel welcome. Mary is DOING nothing, but Jesus' point is Mary is DOING everything that matters. I can't say I have a life worth imitating if I have no concept of BEING with God. There is to be balance between action and abiding.

8. Luke 15.

Lostness gets found. It's the nature of this Jesus thing.

9. Remembering is a Spiritual Discipline
Forgetfulness is the most common sin. Jesus invites us to remember. To break the bread and the drink the up and remember what he has done. The thief on the cross asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection and slowly they remember what he had said. Gradually they remember that Jesus had called his shot.

Too often I'm great at forgetting what God wants me to remember and remembering what God wants me to forget. But the cross more than any place in history invites us His people to remember that God has not forgotten.

10. This story is My Story

Perhaps the thing that has impacted me the most in sitting in the Gospel of Luke for as long as we have is that I found it incredible relatable. To those who claim the Bible is an outdated book that is inaccessible and not applicable to our lives, I'd ask have you actually read it? Because there is immense relevance and intense parallels. Denial, Skepticism, Convenience vs. Cost, Rest vs. work, love, morality, relational responsibility, what to do with the poor and marginalized, how to view women, and so much more. If you can't find your story in this story, there's a good chance your eyes are shut and your heart hardened to what is really going on.

So what's next? Well, we will cover a few topics relevant to C3 the next couple months and then tackle Habakkuk over the summer and Acts will kick off in the Fall!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter and the end of Luke

Really pumped for Easter this weekend! Saw some stats that just recently were released on the how and why people come to church.

2% via advertisement/church marketing.
6% because of a pastor's invitation.
6% through a church outreach campaign.
But 86% of people who visit do so because of a FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER'S INVITATION!


So...who are you inviting?

In addition to the fact that Easter is the central, foundational moment in the Christian calendar, I'm also excited because this Sunday marks the end of our journey through the gospel of Luke. We have been making our way through this book of the Bible since December 2014!

Here's 10 things from the Gospel of Luke that have stuck with me. The First 5 are in this post. The Next 5 will come later.

1. Women are central to the Gospel
Luke does not relegate women to a secondary status in the narrative. Mary's role is prominently at the forefront of this gospel. Elizabeth, Anna, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and so many more. The women were the last at the cross and first at the tomb. They are the first to encounter the resurrection, which is fascinating that Luke mentions this because the general belief is that women's testimony was not admissible in court. It had to be corroborated by a man's testimony. So, mentioning women as the first eye witnesses doesn't lend itself to increased credibility. So Luke mentioning it suggests it very well may have been TRUE.

2. Jesus' Identity was Everything
Before he taught, healed, rebuked, multiplied, called disciples. Before he DID anything, he was baptized and the Father said "This is my son whom I love and with whom I'm well pleased."(Luke 3) Jesus did everything out of the security of his identity. We tend to do everything to try and earn our status/identity with God. As scholarly people say, "That's Bass Ackwards".

3. Wilderness Should Be Expected
Again, before Jesus does anything worth documenting in ministry, he is taken into the wilderness for 40 days of tempting/fasting (Luke 4). It is in pain and adversity...suffering and wilderness that our character is shaped and our faith becomes resolute. Yet, for some reason, many of us think the goal of life is to avoid pain and suffering, and disregard death and dying. I have a theory. The United States is being decimated with mental health crises, particularly in the 20 and 30 something context and I think much of the anxiety and depression that is consuming a generation has to do with a really lousy approach to the wilderness.

Avoid the wilderness! Escape pain and suffering! That's supposed to be our approach. Yet, the wilderness of pain and suffering keeps creeping into our lives and the thought that it might actually be inescapable drives us to anxiety. (What if I fail? What if it hurts? What if I lose something or someone? What if I'm not good enough? What if I'm not loved?) Anxiety exists because we have a sneaking suspicion that suffering, pain, adversity and failure are not in our control. Then depression comes in when we realize we can't escape it. The pain and suffering, wilderness and hurt are a guarantee ("In this world, you will have trouble...") So depression comes in because we have no capacity or competence on how to handle pain, suffering and the dark night of the soul.

The wilderness should be expected and it should be embraced because the places of breakthrough and freedom are found there.

4. His Mission is Our Mission
He announced his ministry (Luke 4) by reading the Isaiah scroll and declaring the year of the Lord's favor. He came to bring freedom, good news, release. If we aren't joining him in active, tangible ways in the world, we have to at least ask if we have strayed toward another mission.

5. The 5 Capitals are obvious in Luke
Spiritual Capital...Jesus walked in wisdom and power (Luke 3 and attention to the role of the Spirit)
Relational Capital...Jesus called the disciples to be a family on mission (Luke 5)
Physical Capital...Jesus invests time and healing into people (Luke 6-9)
Intellectual Capital...Jesus begins teaching in depth about the Kingdom of God, using parables to get his point across. (Luke 10-17)
Financial Capital...Jesus initiates more and more conversations about money and how it should be used (Luke 18-19)

The order of these capitals is everything. The Academic world tries to make Intellectual capital the primary capital. Capitalism tries to make financial capital the primary capital. Fitness and diet cultures try to make Physical capital the primary capital. But the church is the one place that has the potential to get the capitals in the right order of influence. Love God and love neighbors. (Spiritual and Relational). Start there the let the lest fall into place.

6 through 10 to come later!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

4 Things as C3 Turns 4

4 years.

We celebrate this Sunday that God has graced us with 4 years of existence as a church.

Here's four things that I'm thinking on and have learned in the journey so far.

1. You Can't Give What You Don't Have

This road has not been easy. It has led Shaina and I to question whether we are cut out for it. We have had our share of heartache, suffering and disappointment. And in the pressure (sometimes artificial, sometimes very real) to plant a church, there are moments where you have to decide whether spiritual, relational and emotional vitality can afford to be sacrificed for the sake of whatever is in front of you. Don't do it. The thing you're doing is not as important as the one you're becoming while you're doing it.

People come to us as leaders with a lot of good and awful stuff. There is holy ground in it all. But you can't disciple others toward vitality if you aren't experiencing it yourself.

What I wish I could have told myself? Receive more counseling. Spend more time with friends who have nothing to do with the thing you're leading. Refer more people to counselors or to those with pastoral/shepherding skills that you don't possess.

2. Celebrate More

I am absolutely a victim to the tyranny of the Next Thing. We celebrated 5 baptisms today? Great! Now how do we get them connected? When do we have baptisms again? Missional Community is thriving? Alright! Now how do we develop that leader? Get that person into a huddle? Help cast the vision for replication? Survive and advance is a terrible way to do ministry and leads to a culture that doesn't rejoice where there is rejoicing. Can I just let a win be a win? The challenge is that the wins don't happen in a vacuum. The same day that you find out someone is actually sensing God's voice and giving it a go to follow him, you also find out that someone else who clearly sensed God's voice is choosing not to do what they are called toward. Or it's the same day the cancer diagnosis is given or the job is lost or the leader quits.

I don't want to survive in ministry. I desire to thrive in ministry. And one key ingredient is to seek to be accused of over-celebrating the wins. The NFL has instituted a penalty for excessive celebration after someone scores a touchdown. I want to be better at enjoying the moment. Rejoicing in the little victory in a big way. Do we have a culture of gratitude and celebration that is on the verge of being so over the top that we could get a penalty for it?

3. Hustle Less

I move the needle. In almost everything I'm involved in. It's what makes me an effective church planter. I'm driven. I get stuff done. Ambition is a delicate thing. And the danger I flirt with far too often is believing that City Campus Church will hit milestones, make an impact, grow in numbers or simply make it to her next birthday because of the amount of work, effort and hustle I put in. Confession? There are moments where my identity is tied to the successes or failures of the church...the approvals or rejections of the church. What I do has been who I am. This is immensely dysfunctional and lends itself to a culture that can be toxic.

If my identity, validation and approval are tied to C3's success, I'm more inclined to put pressure on others and make them feel like their identity, validation and approval are also tied to C3's success. There's a better way. A culture that is secure in sonship...when people find their identity, validation and approval all stem from God and not from performance or achievement, the culture shifts from a HAVE TO culture to a GET TO culture. And people will go faster and further with you when they do it out of a place of security rather than striving.

4. Failure is more important than Success

Most of the conferences and seminars out there parade the successful, victorious, triumphant folks around and suggest that if you follow their example you will have the same success. Sometimes this is helpful in getting what is stuck "unstuck". But most of the time it is absolute B.S.
When something is successful, I am inclined to attribute it to our cleverness or effectiveness or grit. The reality is most of the time, I have no idea why something ends up being successful. Success doesn't teach me the way that failure does. When I fail, I realize my inadequacy and incompetency. When I fail, I am teachable. When I fail, I am dependent on God and others.

Maybe the biggest success of C3 is in how often we have fallen on our faces. Leaders have crashed. Missional communities have fizzled. Huddles have self-destructed. And even though each of these things hurts, they have led us to more reflection, prayer and adjusting our sails to where the wind of God is blowing. It's not if you fail but how you fail and too many churches are masters of spin (polish the image and sweep the dirt under the rug). The biggest saboteur to a discipleship culture is the demand for success and excellence.

Imagine if Peter would have been kicked out of Jesus' squad for failing to walk on water, or worse, left to drown in the failure. We need to reclaim Success from a Butts/Bucks/Baptisms approach to one in which success is giving it a go, regardless of outcome in following Jesus. I am not nearly as controlled by fear when I have an attitude that failure is a thing I will do but not a thing I will be. GK Chesterton said and it C3 can recite it. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

We are the most effective we've ever been at missional communities because we have failed really aggressively. I feel the same optimism about our huddles. We will be better because we've been bad.

So in a nut shell.

Be well.
Celebrate more.
Hustle less.
Fail abundantly.

That's the recipe to thrill.

Hope to see you Sunday as we celebrate what God has done at City Campus Church!

The Best is Yet to Come