Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bob Robert- Reproducing Track

Here are my notes from Bob Roberts from NorthWood Church talk at the Exponential Conference as part of the Reproducing Track.

Churches will multiply that are filled with disciples.
Within the first year a church has to be planting a new church.
The longer a church waits to plant a church the less likely it will happen.
Set the DNA early.

5 Core Things about Christianity that have had an effect/ impact on all religions:

1. Covenant- the essence of the Gospel is covenant.
The grid for God’s operations are societies.
Israel was supposed to be a model of a nation that followed God.

2. The cross- it reconciled all things- redeems all creation.
Christ is for the WHOLE world, he redeems ALL things.

3. Commission- before you have the commission you must first have the disciple.
Matthew 5 is the description of a disciple.
The commission is expansive and for all people.

4. Community

5. Connectiveness.

The Divine and Human Dance

I have often read from Mark Batterson from National Community Church- “pray like it depends on God, work like it depends on you” or something like that. I thought it was original to Mark and it may be, but I was recently reading Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns who says the same thing.

Both I believe are describing this divine human dance whereby nothing is going to happen that is good apart from God’s power and will. Therefore, we have to pray with faith. Yet the Bible also has something to say about works. In Wesleyan terms we would talk about cooperating with God’s grace and work in the world. So, while on the one hand we pray fervently recognizing God’s sovereignty and grace we also are called to cooperate where God is working.

Here is how Elmer Towns puts it, “When you face a problem don’t limit yourself to prayer. Prayer is wonderful, but when you only pray, you haven’t done enough. The Bible teaches both “faith and works.” On our knees we pray as if everything depends on God, but we get up and work as if everything depends on us.” P. 49.

Back and Recovered- Almost

We are back from the Exponential New Church Conference and have just about recovered. As always after coming back from anytime away it is always a whirlwind upon return with catching up on things at home, at church and on sleep.

Overall, the Conference was good and was inspiring and I learned much. I will post the remainder of my notes in the days ahead. We left early on Thursday morning to do our 12 hour drive back to Virginia and so missed Tim Keller and Rick Warren and so will have to catch the podcast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Exponential Plenary Session 2

Andy Stanley spoke at Plenary Session #2.

Vision- a mental picture of what could be fueled by a passion that should be.
Vision always begins as a burden.
Must communicate what the win is in making your vision clear.

How to Make Vision Stick
1. State it simply
Memorable is portable.

2. Cast it convincingly
A. Define the problem
B. Offer a solution- this is your vision
C. And explain why now

3. Repeat it regularly- keep casting it!

4. Celebrate it systematically.
Make public examples of people who live out the vision- celebrate it.
Use stories- they illustrate the vision.
You want people to say, “Oh, that is what you are talking about.”

5. Embrace it personally.

The curse of knowledge- you think everybody knows what you know because you shared it once.

Exponential- Plenary Session 1

Plenary Session 1 was with Ed Stetzer.

  • Lifeway Research partnered with Leadership Network- interviewed four hundred church planting churches.

Research Findings

  • Saw a transition to local churches as opposed to denominations starting churches.
  • Saw that church planting churches were using systems- recruitment, assessment etc.
  • Agencies/ denominations providing 33% or less in funding- with church planter and parent church providing rest.
  • The more money an agency/ annual conference gives the less parent churches there are.

Church planting churches…

  • Expect church planters to raise 50%-80% of funding.
  • Assign 10% or more of budget to domestic church planting.
  • 1/3 of churches had staff responsible for church planting.
  • Rise of networks is a major trend.
  • Churches of 200 or less are more likely to plant than churches with 1,000.

Churches born by churches need to be born pregnant themselves.
Ron Sylvia’s goal is 1,000 churches in 5 years- called Next Project- formerly Purpose Driven Church Planting.
What you celebrate you become.
Everything reproduces.
NAMB- Epoch
Church planting needs to be the mission of every church.
Small things reproduce, complex things do not.

We Are Here

We made it to the Exponential Conference in record time driving down I-95 to beautiful Orlando, FL. It certainly was good to leave the monsoon back in Virginia. The Conference started with what they called a Conference Pre-Intensive. This was a six hour mini conference. I went to Churches Planting Churches. I have not finished getting my notes together for that but when I do I will post the highlights. On Tuesday we had the first plenary session with Ed Stetzer leading one and Andy Stanley the other. My notes from their talks are found in other posts.

It was all good stuff. Gosh I am so glad I am here at this Conference than at our tribe's General Conference arguing about whether gay people should be ordained, whether we should divest funds from companies that work with Israel, or how to make order out of the disorder our systems have turned ordination into.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exponential Here We Come

I am excited that after worship this Sunday my friend Tim Hull (from Harvest UMC- another church plant in Stafford County, VA) will be heading to Orlando, FL for the Exponential New Church Conference. I got to go for the first time last year and had a great experience and learned much. While every speaker this year is great I am especially excited to hear Alan Hirsch who I believe is one of the great minds of missiology.

I probably will not blog content updates from the Conference as what I have found is that in the past there are people there who do that and do it a lot better and a whole lot more thorough than I. In fact, I think some guys are "official bloggers" this year so that will be good. I will give you some links to their sites as I become aware of who they are.

Silence and Solitude

Speaking of the ancient spiritual disciplines, one of the most overlooked disciplines is silence and solitude.

Recently at New Season, we have adopted a new system where on the back of our communication cards I invite persons to take "next steps" in response to the word, the message, the music etc. Last week one of the next steps was to spend five minutes a day in silence. When a person signs up to take a next step I usually send an email during the week to encourage them. Here is what I sent to the people who signed up for to practice the ancient spiritual discipline of silence.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for being with us Sunday for the fourth message in the "Overwhelmed" series "Overthrowing Over Commitment.' Thanks too for agreeing to take the next step to spend five minutes a day this week in silence just listening for God. So many times in our relationship with God we do all the talking. While it is great that we talk to God in prayer you and I also know that in any relationship it is a two way street. We also have to listen. One of the ways we do that is to just be silent and clear our minds and let God speak to our hearts.

I find it easy to find a quiet place to do this. You might do this early in the morning or by just shutting off the radio in the car. Just ask God to speak to your heart in this time of silence anything you need to hear or that needs to be revealed to you. Also before you start you might want to just clear your mind. The easiest way I have found to do that was given to me by a coach in high school who was trying to teach me to concentrate. He said to clear your mind and concentrate just start paying attention to your breathing. I have used it ever since to clear my mind. Use whatever works for you. After you spend some time in silence you may also choose to write anything you feel God has spoken to your heart so you can go back to it. Also realize though that during this time of silence you may not "hear" anything but you will be preparing your heart perhaps to hear something later. If you have a chance, let me know about your experience in practicing the ancient spiritual discipline of silence.

Thanks for taking this next step on your faith journey. I will be praying for you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I recently read Jentezen Franklin's (from Free Chapel Worship Center in Gainesville, GA) newest book of Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. It was a quick read and one I would recommend to others interested in the lost art and ancient spiritual discipline of fasting.

There were a few things I learned or had reinforced:

  • Matthew 6 gives us the duties of a follower of Christ: Pray, Give and Fast.
  • Jesus had an expectation we would fast. He said, "WHEN you fast..." not "IF you fast..."
  • Fasting is not about twisting God's arm to get him to move in a way you want but preparing yourself spiritually for supernatural moves of God in your life, the life of the faith community and the life of others.
  • Fasting has physical benefits in addition to spiritual benefits.
  • Fasting is not just for monks in a monastery but for every Christ follower.
  • It was our stomach that got the human race in trouble in the first place- eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Jesus himself along with Paul, Peter, David, the nation of Israel and many others fasted- why do we think we would not need to fast.
And much more...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Westview on the James

This past Sunday at New Season Cat Holbert from Westview on the James was with us to tell us about Westview on the James. For those who do not know Westview on the James is a camp and retreat center of the United Methodist Church located in Goochalnd County which is just outside of Richmond. While Westview offers many great opportuities to worship God through enjoying his creation perhaps their premier program is their summer camp program. Now is the time to register your child or grandchild for summer camp if you want them to experience a fun, Christ centered, faith building experience this summer they will never forget. You can register here.

As Steve Kropp pointed out the caliber of the summer camp program can be witnessed in the number of camp alumni who are now older who come back to serve as counselors.

Monday, April 14, 2008

1st Game of T-Ball

Robert had his first game of T-Ball for the season this past Saturday. He is on the Dodgers this year. The game ended in a tie Dodgers 23- Red Sox 23. There are no outs, no score, everybody bats and if they run the right way around the bases or throw to first base it is a victory. Fun times!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Over Committed

You don't want to miss our worship celebration experience this Sunday as we walk about "Overthrowing Over Commitment" in our lives.

God does not intend us to lead over committed lives because when we get over committed we get overwhelmed and miss the life he intends for us and we miss being a blessing to other people. Yet, it is so easy in this life to become over committed. With kid's activities and their schedules, with work, with the inability to say no it takes no time at all to find oneself over committed.

However, God is a god of order as the Bible makes clear and does not intend for our lives to be lived over committed. He provides us with the tools to find balance in our lives to overthrow over commitment and to protect ourselves from it so we can lead lives of victory.

Don't miss finding out more this Sunday.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Did anyone catch American Idol a couple of nights ago when they were doing their whole "reaching out show" called Idol Cares? There was not much on that night and so I found myself watching it (I am not afraid to admit that in past seasons I have watched American Idol though not at all this season- yet).

At the end the contestants came out and sang "Shout to the Lord!" Wow, that kind of surprised me. I wonder if Fox got any push back from the ACLU lu-lus and other such groups. I say praise God that the name of Jesus was lifted up before millions!! I think I even saw Simon singing and throwing his hand up in the air.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Much has been written in the blogosphere and in other places about Oprah's latest spiritual fascination. You can watch one particularly poignant video that is in reaction to Oprah's peddling of spiritual feel-goodism right here.

We should not be surprised though. Oprah, as she is free to do in our free society, has been off the charts from any Christian orthodoxy for some time. Does anyone remember her segment "getting in touch with your spirit?" Her latest guru is Eckhart Tolle and his book "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose." I am purposely not linking to them because I am not going to be responsible for it.

The problem is not that Oprah believes what she believes, as misguided as that is, it is that she seeks to sell the Tolle and Oprah kool-aid to her vast audience. The book pays passing reference to scripture and quotes just enough scripture to deceive people into believing it is in any way "Christian." All the while the book and the thinking (it is not a theology), denies Christ crucified, dead and risen.

I like to live by Wesley's dictum (he stole it from Augustine), "As to the essentials unity, as to the non-essentials, think and let think." The problem with this here is that we do not agree on the essentials. While the book talks about God in some peculiar ways it is very far from the mainstream of Christian orthodoxy as contained in the scriptures and the creeds of the church.

The sad part for the church is that this is another wake up call. All these Oprah-ites are starving for something to fill that God sized spiritual void in their hearts and are ready for anything. And yet, the church continues to argue about whether homosexual people can be ordained, who should be allowed to preside at communion, and the virgin birth all the while having in its grasp the greatest story ever told that is waiting to be shared. Wake up church before your lamp stand is removed!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts

Growing up in Massachusetts I grew up on Dunkin' Donuts. There was one on every street corner it seemed and they had the best coffee. When I became a Virginian I was disappointed at the lack of Dunkin' Donuts.

So, I am glad to see Dunkin' Donuts expanding. Check out this story from the Providence Journal about the chain's expansion efforts and how they are filling a niche in a market dominated by Starbucks and similar companies. I have long held that Dunkin' Donuts needed to market as the common man's coffee.

They're brilliant to adapt from free standing stores to combining Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins and to do so in Wal-Marts, gas stations and other places.

So, have your Starbucks (I sometimes do- house blend of course with room- none of those fancy girl drinks for me). I will stick to my Dunkin' Donuts.

Here are some lessons for the church from Dunkin' Donuts:
  • Find your niche and be you. Don't try to be another Starbucks.
  • Find out what you do well (regular coffee) and keep doing it- focus.
  • When a model no longer works (free standing stores) don't be afraid to try something new.
  • Be creative and innovative (put stores where no one thought stores could go).

Overwhelmed Message Series

Please find below the first two messages from the Overwhelmed message series.

To listen now, click on the link below.

Feeling overwhelmed? Need a lift? It's so easy to get overwhelmed with the cares and affairs of life. Having our priorities out of whack, dealing with family frustration, being over-committed, not turning things over to God- it can all lead to being overwhelmed and missing the "abundant" life Jesus came to give us. In this series we discover principles straight from the Bible that can help us to defeat our being overwhelmed.

Subscribe to this podcast via Apple iTunes by following this link.

Get Apple iTunes for PC or Mac here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Blessing to Others

As we work through our series "Overwhelmed" here are some thoughts...

God gives to us his love and blessing so that we can be a blessing to others. We can overcome being overwhelmed, protect ourselves from being overwhelmed by getting our priorities straight, and overcome family frustrations only through God's power in our life through Jesus.

But this is not only so we can enjoy the life God intends. The life God intends does not stop at us just "feeling" peace, having joy, or achieving balance. That is only part of it. We receive these things from God so we can be a blessing to others. The intention for our lives as it is laid out in the Bible is that we would receive abundant life. We receive this life most abundantly not only when we are filled but when we are dispensers of love, forgiveness, and hope to others. We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


You don't want to miss tomorrow's message about "Overcoming Family Frustrations" in our series Overwhelmed. We are going to be sharing some biblical principles you can apply no matter what your family dynamics because God wants you to experience life the way he intends- abundantly! And, as one whose life is filled he wants to use you to be a blessing to others. We will see how Joseph in the Old Testament was a person who overcame family frustrations to become a blessing to others. So come on out tomorrow and grab all your family members- especially the aggravating ones. See you then.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bean Counting

How do you measure the success of a local church? In my tribe it is through "sola numero" (numbers alone) in most instances. In my ten years of serving churches and filling out reports I have filled out my fair share of forms so that the denomination could count. I wonder when the last time what we count as United Methodists has changed? What should we be counting? Believe it or not I do not have all the answers but can probably say better what we do not need to count.

But I really resonate with what Reggie McNeal in his book "The Present Future" has to say about what a missional church counts versus what the clubhouse church counts. Here are my notes from that part of the book.

Adopting a missionary approach will require changing the scorecard.
Church scorecards currently reflect member values: how many show up, pay up, and participate in club activities.
Keep score of different things such as...
How many ministry initiatives we are establishing on the street.
How many conversations we are having with pre-Christian friends.
How many volunteers we are releasing into local and global projects aimed at community transformation.
How many congregations are starting to reach different populations.
How many congregations use our facilities.
How many church activities target people who aren’t here yet?
How many hours per week do members spend in ministry where they work, go to school, and get mail.
Will we continue to have a kingdom vision that is shrink wrapped to church programs and church real estate?
Start adopting schools, hosting community foodbanks, teaching parenting seminars, and financial planning seminars.