Friday, April 30, 2010

letter to Lebron James

This was a letter in the Charlotte observer yesterday to Lebron James.
It's actually not even from a Charlotte person, but from a guy who is a columnist for the New York Times.
Basically an appeal for Lebron to come play for the Charlotte Bobcats next season!
Pretty cool. I would love to hear Lebron's and Jordan's thoughts!

"Dear LeBron:
On Monday many of us watched the young Charlotte Bobcats fight the good fight before falling to the Orlando Magic in a first-round sweep.
Charlotte was the young kid with a big heart fighting the playground bully and holding his own. Ultimately, the bully was too big and the Bobcats were not good enough.
Charlotte was missing one piece, LeBron: you.
For the past two years the world has been advising you about where to play next season.
Where can you make the greatest impact? Where can you make the most dollars?
In Charlotte, where Michael Jordan, your basketball hero, is majority owner. Jordan became the second African-American owner of an NBA franchise. He bought the franchise from the first, Robert L. Johnson. More significantly, in terms of power dynamics, Jordan is the first former NBA player to become a majority owner in the league.
Why should this matter?
It matters because from the beginning of your career, you set your sights on being different, on being more than a basketball player.
You began your career by saying you wanted to be Warren E. Buffett and Muhammad Ali. That struck many as an odd combination. Buffett became famous for amassing wealth, while Ali, standing on courage and principle, did it without spending a dime.
You won't achieve immortality by selling sneakers. You can achieve acclaim, however, by doing something completely counterintuitive, perhaps by joining a 6-year-old franchise and a first-year majority owner and making Charlotte a championship destination.
Why Charlotte?
The answer is simple: Jordan.
How to achieve real greatness
Last year you said you wanted to honor his legacy. You proposed that the NBA retire his No. 23.
Forget the number, LeBron. The greatest tribute you could pay him is joining forces with him next season and creating a dynasty in Charlotte. The two of you could forge a powerful alliance and achieve in an unprecedented way.
Imagine the story line: Charlotte became the 30th member of the NBA on May 3, 2004. Six years later, LeBron James joins the franchise and takes it to heights previously unknown.
Not even Jordan did that. Jordan was drafted into his role. He was drafted by the Bulls in 1984 and led Chicago to its first NBA championship in 1991 at age 28.
Your advisers may tell you to stay as far away from Jordan as possible. He will block your light, they say. Jordan will steal your thunder.
No. The only one who may do that is a 6-foot-9 do-everything forward named Kevin Durant.
That's the thing about sports, LeBron. Fame is so fleeting. What is hot today is old news tomorrow. A good friend was recently lamenting that his teenage son couldn't understand all the fuss over Jordan. LeBron James was the hero of his era.
Most athletes are destined to be overtaken by the next new thing - unless they become Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali.
The only way to achieve such stature is to do something bold and timeless, like taking an unpopular stand or making an unpopular move.
For you, LeBron, that would be leaving Cleveland to join forces with Jordan in Charlotte. Jordan wins his first NBA championship as an owner, you win your first as a player. Then another. And another.
Where are the marketing opportunities in Charlotte? Where are they in Cleveland? The opportunities go where you go, LeBron. Marketing follows you - it has been that way since you were in high school. You go to Jupiter, you put Jupiter on the map.
Charlotte is the Queen City. And you are the king without a crown.
There is no wrong answer - unless the question is, How do I achieve greatness? If that's the aim, go to Charlotte, team with Jordan and win championships."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

to the mountains...

going to a great little spot near Asheville, NC today for a quick weekend getaway.

Crystal and I LOVE these little getaways... just much needed rest and relaxation.
I'm looking forward to a few days of sabbath, having a lot of fun with my wife, being wowed and inspired by the beautiful creation and mountains surrounding me, reading, resting, great food, and some awesome chill time with God. 

These times together are priceless.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

(repost) ridge church - a movement of God in charlotte

*This was my 6th post ever on renown way back on January 8th, 2008. Ridge was just a couple months old then. God has done so much since i wrote this article over 2 years ago. I was looking back on it after Throwback this past Sunday and thought i would just repost this... Enjoy.

Crystal and I are really stoked to be part of an amazing community called ridge church. We launched the church to the public just a few short months ago and God is already doing some amazing things! Ridge is made up of an incredible group of Jesus followers who want to see God's fame break out like an epidemic throughout Charlotte. God has also blessed Ridge with an amazing staff that I am privileged and humbled to be a small part of. The vision for ridge began years ago in the heart of our fearless leader and stellar lead pastor Chris Brown who also has a black belt in karate (just kidding about the karate part).

Maybe you're asking - "Why start a church in Charlotte of all places?" From the beginning Chris has made it clear that "Charlotte doesn't need another church. You probably drove by several today. Charlotte does need relevant environments where believers can feel confident and safe to bring their unbelieving friends." These relevant environments set us up to accomplish our mission which is to "lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ - through intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders."

(Check out this video of our 1st 2 gatherings.)
video

This is the healthiest church I have ever been a part of or seen and I'm so thankful to be part of the team. My heart was drawn to Ridge when I heard Chris say things like - "We don't want to raise a banner in Charlotte that says 'Ridge Church' but one that says 'Jesus'" & "We just want to build a platform for Jesus to be made famous in this city." Pimp stuff. That's what I'm all about, so it was a natural thing to jump in with Ridge. Now, I'm all in!
Ridge is a strategic partner of Northpoint Community Church led by Andy Stanley. Our DNA is identical to Northpoint's and we function like a home just like they do - you can read about our foyer, living room, and kitchen environments here. We also have the same 7 core values as Northpoint that I was so stoked about when I first came to Ridge = Authentic Community/ Relational Evangelism (Evangelism is NOT an event or something we do it's simply who we are)/ Intimacy with God/ Relevant Environments/ Biblical Authority (what else would the authority be... a deacon board?)/ Strategic Service/ & Intentional Apprenticing. (you can read more about these core values here.) I can't explain how refreshing it is to be a part of a church that is all about these 7. We also follow 7 practices that will absolutely rock your world when I write about them in depth in a later post.

(check out this video of our amped kid's environments)
video

Ridge is a church that is committed to life change. We are all about the stories... stories of people's lives being changed by God - & those stories keep rollin' in. There is SO MUCH more I would love to tell you about this movement that is about to rock Charlotte for God's glory... but this post would be WAY too long. But don't worry, I'll be writing A LOT more about Ridge church. For now, why don't you check it out for yourself if you live in the Charlotte area + everybody should definitely visit our website at ridgechurch.net. If you have any friends in Charlotte who are unbelievers or are burnt out on "church" then Ridge is the perfect place for them... in fact our worship gatherings are designed specifically and unashamedly for them.

You've also gotta read our lead pastor's blog - Ridge Behind the Scenes. He's an amazing leader and God has His hand and blessing on Him in a special way. His passion for God and this city is infectious. (+ I think he's giving away a free 52" plasma TV to the very next commenter... totally just kidding.) Click here to listen to all of our talks from the awesome communicators at ridge church. You'll love them!

Also, consider this your own personal invitation with the fancy calligraphy & everything to come join the Ridge Church facebook group! (of course without the calligraphy - I never learned how to do that.)

God gets all the glory for what He's doing in Charlotte & I am flippin' pumped to be a little part in the story!

Monday, April 26, 2010

my fav commercial... ever.

I don't watch commercials. They are a waste of time. I rarely watch TV at all and when I do it's only something I have DVR'd so i skip every commercial.
This commercial may have been out for a while and I just saw it last week while getting my hair cut. Watch it below!


Man! that's just a beautiful and awesome commercial!
Maybe just for me? You might be sitting there wondering why i love it so much?

I think it just combines several of my passions:
*soccer - of course. my 1st love. And still one of my greatest loves. the beautiful game. Of course the World freaking Cup is the epitome and height of that love. I wait 4 years for this moment. the anticipation is KILLNG me. (4 years ago i took weeks off of work to watch every single game! in High School i got sick so i didn't have to go to camp or work the whole month the games were on.)
*Bono - like one of my favorite people.(+ U2 is one of my fav bands.) anyone else's voice and you maybe don't even notice this commercial? his voice is both the essence of inspiration and coolness! Because of all the great things he stands for i just get fired up listening to him talk.
*World Cup - it's coming! need i say more?
*the Nations - everything Global and International is a love for me. i love the nations and i love what brings us together instead of divides us! **It's crazy awesome that a GAME is what can unite us all in spite of our differences all across the world. (I wanna write about 10 blog posts on this idea...)
*Africa - the WC is being played in my fav continent in the whole world for the 1st time ever. I've been to South Africa and stoked to go back to Africa this September. wanna live there for the rest of my days...
*Worship song - the fact that the main commercial for ESPN to promote the BIGGEST event in the world is set to the opening of a worship song!? how cool is that? The awesomeness of the Magnificent One being sung in combo with all these other things is pretty awesome!

anyway, hope you liked the commercial as much as me!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

THROWBACK tomorrow!

If you're in the Charlotte area tomorrow you have to be a part of THROWBACK at Ridge Church! We're going back to where it all began - South Piedmont Community College!

We will kick things off at 11AM RAIN OR SHINE (and it will probably be rain unfortunately). It's gonna be an awesome day celebrating all God has done through our community and all He will do through us!
(& I can't wait to eat the food!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

THROWBACK is coming...

This Sunday is THROWBACK at Ridge!

*It's like a big RETRO day for us. We're going back to where it all began. We're meeting at SPCC where it all started as a gathering. Where a handful of people 1st gathered behind the vision God had given Chris Brown to create a church for unchurched people.

God has used that vision and this group of people to push His Mission and His Kingdom forward in Charlotte. I am just humbled and stoked to be a little part of it.

I just went to one gathering at SPCC and it will still be nostalgic for me! We are going there so we can "Look back to DREAM AHEAD!"
It's going to be an awesome day to dream about the future vision of Ridge Church!

+ We are celebrating all the amazing people who have made this journey happen along the way. It's going to be awesome.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the american dream

(*This was originally posted on June 2, 2008. You can read the original article HERE. This is one of my favorite posts I wrote in '08.)

I guess I'll just come right out and say it because I'm in that kind of mood today. I hate the American Dream! & I'm pretty sure Jesus hates it too. I think the American Dream is probably one of the biggest contributors to wasted lives!!! And most peeps are wasting their lives these days. Living for their own name and glory.

You may not be aware of this, but I think the American Dream has slowly changed from what it used to be. The great philosophers Nickelback poetically describe the current American Dream in their song "Rockstar". Read the lyrics below, but I'm sure most of you know it so go ahead and sing along in that raspy voice that leaves your throat scratchy and asking for some water. It really is a catchy song...

"I'm through with standing in line to clubs we'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out quite the way I want it to be

(Tell me what you want)
I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough for ten plus me

(So what you need?)
I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club at thirty-seven thousand feet

(Been there, done that)
I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher and James Dean is fine for me

(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name

[Chorus:]
'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar"

-
Ok, for real... did you sing it? It's one of those that may very well be stuck in your head for a few days.

This is a little different than the original American Dream that went something like this: a nice, big house, 2 nice, new cars, 2 nice kids, a big TV, a comfy job where you have climbed the corporate ladder to (imagined) "security", a pretty wife who doesn't talk back or a husband who doesn't drink beer or hang out with "the boys" too much, a nice vacation or two every year. and of course, a really fat retirement account so we can retire @ 65 (or earlier) and "live the life" on a beach somewhere or in the mountains playing golf til we kick the bucket.
If you wanted a "Christian" version of this just throw in a nice church with lots of people like you who have a nice, big house & 2 new cars + a lot of time to spend with the family... maybe something like the wife not having a job and the husband making sure he spends lots of evenings with the kids.

Obviously I'm not saying any of that stuff is bad. And I'm not saying the new American Dream is any better or worse than the old or the "Christian" American Dream, but I am convinced that both "American Dreams" are wasting peoples' lives. I feel like the American Dream and the false hope & trust in imagined security and comfort that go along with it are trying their best to hijack the Missio Dei, the Mission of God. Thankfully, God's Mission cannot be hijacked, but the American Dream is taking a pretty good swing at it.

I really don't know what to do about it either. Maybe you can help me think of something. You can be sure that with God helping me I'm not gonna get sucked into it & let it waste my life. I'm only gonna waste my life for Jesus. If you ever see me veering into this wasted life/American Dream then I give you permission to call me on it. I'm gonna do all I can to protect my kids from this way of life that will waste their lives. And I guess I will promote the satisfaction that comes from politely (and not so politely) rebelling against this culture of consumerism we live in & living our lives for one Name. I guess that's a start.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

i'm bringing back the HIGH FIVE!!!

In my first job right out of college I worked with kids and I used to always give them "High Fives!" I would simply tell them "I'm bringing the back the HIGH FIVE."
I'm not sure when the high five actually went out... I guess some time in the mid 90s? But I've been working for about 4 years now to bring it back! i think i'm even having some success. seriously. It's coming back.

Rusty posted this awesome video from the hilarious Tripp & Tyler at NPCC. You can see his post HERE. He said it was for me (unless he knows another "Patrick" who is all about the High Five). I watched it and laughed out loud. I hope you do too.


hopefully these rules of engagement help.   

Friday, April 16, 2010

growth strategies (part 2)

This is a continuation of my Leadership Coaching Network thoughts & takeaways. This is part 2 continued from Tuesday's post about 10 Church Growth Strategies.
You can read 1-5 HERE and read all about this leadership coaching network I'm in with Tony Morgan HERE

Here are strategies 6-10:
6  Leveraging Word of Mouth. This is really all we leverage at Ridge Church. we call it "Invest and Invite". We simply want believers to invest in their relationships and then invite people to check out this God thing when the time is right (= live missional lives). it's really our only strategy.
And of course this works way better than any other method according to all the statistics. Like 99% of people who come to a church do so because of a personal invite!

**1 idea Tony mentioned was that because we don't ever use promotion, when we DO promote something big, people would actually listen! Because we haven't been loud and now we are all of the sudden!
Also, at Tony's church, each ministry team writes down WHO they are inviting and then the whole team prays for those people by name. I think that's pretty cool too.

***This was eye opening too = Tony said that peeps in our churches probably assume that people show up because of our marketing! *We must constantly remind them that peeps only come when THEY INVITE them.

7  Act Twice Your Size. If you try to operate twice your size today you'll establish right systems and make decisions that will help get to the growth you want. Go talk to churches twice your size and see what they did to break through.
We did this at Ridge from the beginning. Except we probably acted 4 times our size. I don't know if this was the best thing or not?

8  Keep it Simple. We say "Narrow the Focus". Constantly take stuff away instead of add stuff. All organizations tend toward complexity. We need to fight that at Ridge! We will always have to.

9  Empower Leaders (Volunteers). I feel like we are nailing this pretty well. We can always do better of course, but we have empowered an unbelievable team of Volunteer Leaders. We have so many of them serving in staff roles and high capacity leadership roles that it's just crazy!

10 Track the Numbers. all the numbers = number of life change stories, peeps connecting in community (groups), peeps serving, peeps in our Foyer environment, etc...


Thursday, April 15, 2010

11 reasons why we MUST study culture (part 2)

Read part 1 with the 1st 5 reasons = HERE. I gave a lot of preface thoughts too. The list is from Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger.
Basically, these posts are all about why we should act like missionaries (because we are) here in the West and study our culture in order to contextualize the gospel in it!

6            ***Because the Majority of Current Church Practices are Cultural Accommodations to a Society That No Longer Exists ***
“Much of what we understand as historical church practices are simply cultural adaptations that occurred at other times and places in church history. The church must ‘de-absolutize’ many of its sacred cows in order to communicate afresh the good news to a new world.”

*Example = the Protestant Reformation was all about a Linear progression of thought, highly reasoned exegesis, and expository preaching. These things illustrated the new culture’s focus on the written word! (print culture)
and we also at times removed the symbolic, mystical, and experiential to make a space for logical and linear ways of thinking and living!
"We MUST be aware of the ways we’ve worshipped written culture at the expense of oral, aural, and visual worlds.” **
[and that's just 1 example]

7            Because the Primary Mode and Style of Communication in Western Culture Have Changed
All faithful missionaries must understanding the language of culture! The Church has been really slow to adopt new communication technologies.
These new technologies aren’t faddish, but are “the very essence of how people today construct their worlds.”
This is maybe the spot where church is most out of step with culture! The Reformation contextualized the gospel for the print era, but we haven’t had another reformation as we moved out of the print era! = to bring the gospel to our image-based era.
We “continue to communicate a verbal, linear, and abstract message to a culture whose primary language consists of sound, visual images, and experience, in addition to words.”
[we simply need to wake up and get with it. start being missionaries and contextualize our message to reach our culture!]

*current styles of preaching are having diminishing impact. Communicators must understand the comprehensive nature of language in order to be heard by culture! 
[I'm just trying to wrap my head around it. but i know it's more holistic. the message and the medium are more intertwined than I have always thought.]

8            Because a New Culture Means that New Organizational Structures are Required
Basically, seeing ourselves as missionaries we must rethink inherited ways of administering church in our times. What of our current structures are dictated by modernity not the Bible? I don't know... we just need to rethink as objectively as we can.

9            Because Boomers Are the Last Generation That is Happy with Modern Churches
It's very interesting to me that the huge wave of Boomer returnees to church had no parallel in Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand! (more fully postmodern cultures)

*the postmodern generation is “disillusioned with institutionalism and sees the church itself as an obstacle to faith.” That’s why postmodern generations simply “ignore the organized church as irrelevant to their spiritual quest.”
wow! that's pretty hard to swallow.

***of course this postmodern shift is NOT a generational thing! That’s way oversimplifying complex issues. Those of you who keep saying that it's just generational need to WAKE UP AND PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND! It's not only here to stay, but becoming more and more our way of life. get used to it.

*Again, Gibbs & Bolger back me up that it’s NOT a generational thing! = “Generational issues are imbedded in the much deeper cultural and philosophical shift from modernity to postmodernity.”

Interesting -> Boomers are the last gen to be satisfied with a modern church service that is linear, word based, and abstract. Postmoderns need rituals, visuals, and touch. [not even sure what this new style will look like?]

10            Because of the Increasing Appeal of Spirituality Derived from Other Religions
“The church is sending spiritually minded people to strive after other religions because it has become secularized.”
Wow. that is a hard core indictment. I need to rethink it. in what ways has the church ceased to be spiritual? Have we done it intentionally?

11            Because Many Christians No Longer Follow the Religion of Their Parents
 “no longer does one adopt the traditions of one’s parents. Individuals make their own religious choices.”
**For the 1st time (at least in American history) religion is chosen rather than received.
The individual is figuring it out for themselves. And that's the way it should be! I think that is awesome. We have the chance to raise up a generation of crazy passionate Jesus followers! But we gotta study our culture to figure out how to best do that! 

These authors sum it up best = “Ultimately, Christians who want to serve within Western culture must be trained as missionaries.”

OK, reasons #6-11... what do you think?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

why we MUST study our culture (11 reasons)

(This is somewhat of an offshoot from #2 of yesterday's post. But really this is a major passion area of mine.)

I will shout it from the rooft... well, from my deck and front porch (because my roof is really steep and I'm a little afraid to shout anything from up there) that = we (the Western Church) MUST study our culture like (cross-cultural) missionaries ferociously study the culture that they are sent to! 

We are missionaries to Western culture and we've gotta start acting like it. When I move to sub-Saharan Africa one day, I am going to study the heck out of that culture. I should do the same as a missionary here in Charlotte!

So, of course I'm excited when I read Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger (both profs @ Fuller - my 2nd choice according to THIS) writing awesome missional lists like this one in their book I've been reading, Emerging Churches. Below is their awesome list with my thoughts and commentary following.

*11 Key reasons why the church must seriously study culture:
1            Because of the Incarnation
Jesus took on our culture and practices = “As Jesus did, we must immerse ourselves in the local cultures of our time.” “As Jesus did, we must provide a critique, but that evaluation must come from within rather than be imposed from outside the cultural context.”
*Jesus critiqued as fully a part of the culture and immersed in it! right on - this should be obvious. We can’t be missionaries to China and not be fully immersed in their culture, but still condemning and critiquing their culture! we don't get it when we do that!

2            Because Cultural Understanding has Always been Essential to Good Mission Practice
“Questions regarding the relationship between church and culture are critical to the mission of the church. Faithful mission practice requires understanding of the culture in which one is serving.” of course it's the same in Western culture - just like in any other culture.
Missionaries historically engage the culture, “seeking to communicate the gospel in indigenous forms while remaining faithful to Scripture.”
*duh. BUT, in the West we sell culture way short! We're convinced we understand the various cultures in the West, but this is a big mistake… because we obviously don't. we need to study it.

This is great advice = “The church must recognize that we are in the midst of a cultural revolution and that nineteenth-century (or older) forms of church do not communicate clearly to 21st century cultures.” A major transformation MUST occur in the way the church understands culture!
*And I think this is a fair and important warning on this point = “The church must embody the gospel within the culture of postmodernity for the Western church to survive the 21st century.”

3            Because Christendom and Modernity are in Rapid Decline
The Church does NOT maintain the central place in society anymore. The Church is pretty much non-influential.
More often than not the church has found itself taking the side of modernity, defending its project against all viewpoints.” = ouch.
**So, this shift from Christendom and modernity has profound implications for the Church, the nature of ministry, mission in postmodernity, and the ways next gen leaders are equipped for these new challenges!
We can hunker down/run away or move forward in this new mission!

4            Because the West is in the Midst of Huge Cultural Shifts
It used to be that a certain culture hung around for an entire lifetime. Now, the church can’t even relate to its surrounding culture which is why we’re perceived as irrelevant.
*A few cultural changes Gibbs & Bolger say have contributed to marginalization of the church:
1) shift to postmodernity
2) shift from Westernization to globalization
3) communication revolution = shift from print to electronic-based
4) shift in our economic mode of production = transition from national and industrial-based economies to international, info based, and consumer driven.
5) we're on the verge of breakthroughs in human biology
           6) a convergence of science and religion that hasn’t been seen in centuries
“Any one of these shifts requires significant theological reflection. Pastoral leaders must listen carefully to culture and be prepared to abandon cherished forms if necessary.”

5            Because the Church is in Decline
A big reason (imho) is that culture has drastically changed and we haven't kept up. Somehow we can be missionaries when we cross oceans, but we don't apply those same principles in our cities here in the West!
I'm stoked to be a part of a generation that has a completely different philosophy on this. I'm stoked to see how God might use us to be a part of changing the way the Western Church looks at culture and therefore the scope of our influence for His Name's sake!

There are thoughts on the 1st 5 reasons. Check in tomorrow for thoughts on the 2nd 5!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

growth strategies

These are my Leadership Coaching Network thoughts & takeaways - #2.

You can read my 1st thoughts HERE and read all about this leadership coaching network I'm in with Tony Morgan HERE.

Last time we were together we talked through some successful growth strategies and themes Tony has helped implement in churches and that he has seen be successful.
Honestly, these are nothing new. I feel like we're doing all of these at Ridge and doing them well. BUT we can definitely always get better. I see a lot of areas for us to improve. Overall though we are nailing most of these.

Here are Tony's top 10 consistent themes for Growth and then my thoughts on each:
Listen to God and do what He says. Obviously peeps screw up when they just straight up copy what some other growing church is doing. Do your own thing. Do what God calls YOU to do! (On the flip side, I think Tony said something like "We run into a trap when we take our calling and assume it's everybody's calling.")

View ourselves as MISSIONARIES to today's culture. Of course being missional is all the rage but this is FOR REAL. It's not a fad, it's a Jesus thing. We are missionaries to Western culture and we need to start acting like it! it's what we're called to do.
If we were going to a foreign culture/country we would apply all kinds of missional principles, but for some reason we don't here in the West. I've written about this before and plan to again soon (like TOMORROW). We need to realize we are really cross-cultural missionaries here in Charlotte. Our methods must change according to our specific culture.

Build from the outside in. We can all see there are really 2 distinct approaches to building a church. 1) pour into a solid core group and help them become fully devoted followers and therefore they will reach all their friends. 2) try to attract the biggest crowd possible and help them become Christ followers.
Obviously with approach #2 you will have a bigger and more committed core! Then you are more able to be missional with that core than those churches who take approach #1 in the name of being hard core missional [imho].
*It's both/and = attractional and missional... not either/or. I don't believe we have to choose. At Ridge we don't believe we have to choose either.

Prioritize weekend services. Our culture still thinks that when they want to take spiritual steps it's going to happen on a Sunday morning in a church. That's where they go looking.
*BUT, of course it's not ALL about the weekend. It's really all about God's glory and His Name being made famous... and God changing people's lives through our church.
but, at Ridge, we believe that a great way to accomplish this is through our Sunday morning FOYER environment.

Focus on those you're trying to reach, not those you're trying to keep.
Of course this is Andy's phrase and it's what we live by at Ridge. This is how we make decisions - not based on "church people" we're trying to keep, but the unbelievers we want to reach!
we can't just do church how WE like it, but in a way that is relevant to unbelievers. [they way we're doing church now will probably become the new "traditional" church.]

On this point, Tony brought up an interesting point about musical worship style. WE (Christians) love hillsong united and the sixsteps guys... so we sing all their songs and worship God with them. But we sing those because we like them, not because that's the kind of music unbelievers listen to. He made the point that maybe we need a little more mix of some hip hop and the edgy/current stuff peeps are listening to on the radio.
I really like the thought. I also think I believe in the idea of "worship evangelism" too. Still working it all out and forming my philosophy on all this. *AGAIN, I think this is probably another example of "both/and" which is how we try to do it at Ridge. Rocking some Hillsong United but also some Linkin Park & current top 40 stuff.


OK, I can see that my takeaways are already getting too long and I'm only halfway through the 10... I'll have to continue it on Thursday. Tomorrow I'm going to post some more thoughts on #2 above and why we MUST be missionaries to our Western culture.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

feeding Jesus and orphans

(This is an article I originally posted on January 4th, 2008. You can read about my "reposts" HERE.)
 
PETER NYAGA BAITHUMBI
This is Peter, our “adopted” orphan from Kenya. He’s the man! Well, he’s only 5, but he is pretty cool for a 5 year old.

We don’t know how his parents died, but he lives with his brother in a house with a dirt floor, mud walls, and a grass roof. His favorite game is soccer just like me.

Crystal and I send $40 a month to Compassion International and in our opinion the return is pretty high. For $32 a month Peter gets = food, clean water, strong education, and healthcare. + the church in his village gets to give all of this to him and when he asks why he all of the sudden gets this great stuff for free, they can tell him “there’s some people who love Jesus, and Jesus says to love people, especially the ‘least of these’, so they want to love you and make sure you’re cared for in Jesus’ name.” And of course Peter is going to say “so, tell me about this Jesus guy.” Pretty cool, huh?

So, for those of you who may not be clear on what believers are supposed to do for the poor - God says a ton about it in Scripture! If you want to give me your email I can send you my 7 page single-spaced study of just Scripture passages that are clear commands for believers to take care of the poor and orphans in the world. Because of space I'll just share just 1 passage here.
Mathew 25:31-46 => Jesus is telling everyone listening that when He returns in glory He is going to separate the "sheep" and the "goats". Maybe you've always wondered how this will go down... well, here you go. Jesus will tell the sheep to enter into his kingdom because HE was hungry, thirsty, needed clothes, homeless, and sick & they took care of Him. And they'll be like "when did we see YOU, Jesus, & help you?" "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me."(v.40) WOW! Whenever we help feed, clothe, and give water to the poor, orphaned, and homeless it's like we're giving it directly to Jesus!
But what about the goats? Jesus will say "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Why would He condemn them like this? You might have a theological answer in your head, but Jesus says He condemns them to this because they didn't feed, give water to, clothe, & take care of the poor and homeless! He says whenever you see a poor person who needs something and you ignore it, it's basically like you are seeing Jesus on the side of the road with no food and you just ignore JESUS! (v.45) 
Can you imagine seeing Jesus hungry and thirsty and saying to Him - "I'm sorry Jesus, but I really need to pay my internet bill this month so I can read Patrick's blog, or else I would feed you." 
This is a passage we should all reflect on.

In light of the Bible being filled with passages like these, Crystal and I feel like partnering with the Junky Car Club (see previous post) and sponsoring Peter is only a starting point. Peter also lives in an HIV/Aids affected area where the disease is probably something of an epidemic. We are not sure if his parents died from AIDS or if Peter might even have it… but for the extra $8 a month, Compassion is able to provide additional AIDS prevention and education along with extra medicines.

Peter started kindergarten this year. He gets to go to school for a portion of that $32 per month! That’s so awesome. He is beginning to learn how to read and he writes letters to Crystal and me. His favorite subject in school is counting. He proved that when he filled out a profile that he sent to us and the question was “what is your name” and he wrote “12345”. Maybe he’ll figure it out by the 1st grade? ☺

We’re stoked about getting to sponsor Peter and hope to go visit him one day. There’s no feeling in the world like knowing that we get to share the love of Jesus with this little boy in a tangible way. Really, Jesus says it's like we're sharing this directly with HIM. Way cool. $32 a month is basically a dollar a day. That’s not much. So, maybe you can skip Starbucks a few times a month or eat at Chic-fil-a instead of Outback this weekend? Or even sell your car, buy a hooptie & join the Junky Car Club. Get creative and go check out compassion.com

You have no idea the impact you could make in a kid’s life. I kind of think Peter will be the president of Kenya one day… maybe he’ll invite me to have dinner at the Kenyan version of the White House. ☺ 
 
*Here are a few of the comments from that post:
vbcfamily post said...
enjoying the blog. keep tossin whatever u find to us. im checking into just about everything youve posted. its guud stuff!
Gene said...
dude your the bomb...i am so glad God brought us together. i really love your blog and can't wait until you do another post. btw, maybe because of your guys gift instead of eating a meal in the white house you'' eat with him at the feast Jesus is preparing for us? now that's the bomb!!!
peace in!!! :)
ethan welch said...
thats pimp bro. i'm fired up just reading that. i pray Peter doesn't have aids, i hope Jesus saves him, i hope he grows up to be a leader and catalyst in Kenya for the name & fame of Jesus, and i hope he stops hunger and poverty in his country. that would be pimp
JayBee said...
Dude, good stuff. My wife and I have made a similar commitment to committing some finances each month for needs that the Lord has brought our way. I drive a Toyota Camry with 243,000 miles on it and I'm expecting it to hit 500,000 before I even think about getting another car. Thanks for encouraging us all to think in that direction.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yankees season has begun!

That's right - Yankees season, not baseball season. Because the Yankees are the only team that matter. They are the only team that has mattered in my world for the past 27 years since I was born with a Yankees "onesie" and hat on!
I think I have written many times about my die hard obsession with the New York Yankees and how that die hard obsession has been in my blood for over 3 generations!

I have watched every single Yankees game so far this season. And I plan on being able to watch the 1st 9 games of the season at least through the Angels series next week! Pretty awesome. I wonder if I can keep this up and watch every single game all season long? (doubtful)

So, after Sunday's game I will have seen all 5 of our starters pitch. (C.C. is pitching again today.) Phil Hughes gets his 1st start today as our 5th man in the rotation. he's the crazy young phenom who's supposed to be the next great pitcher in the Major Leagues.
I'm guessing he will be the 4th starter soon and Javier Vasquez will drop to be the 5th starter... which is crazy because he was the ACE (1st starter) for the Braves! But we all know the Braves suck.

I am really excited about the Yankees this season. We are the defending World Series Champs and I really hope we can REPEAT again! Joe Girardi is wearing #28 this season, so hopefully he can bring us our 28th world series championship!
I am not about to predict that we'll win it (like I did HERE and was wrong), but I am very hopeful.

**I think it's so awesome that Derek Jeter (my favorite player), Jorge Posada (my wife's favorite player), and Mariano Rivera (our fav pitcher) have all been playing together with the Yankees for 16 years! That is crazy! 16 years! that is the longest streak of any 3 teammates in ANY American sport!!! (NBA, NHL, or NFL!)
They have won 5 world series rings together (so has Andy Pettite) and I watched every second of every one of those world series. I hope this world series is #6 for those guys and in my lifetime!

Friday, April 9, 2010

quotes of the week #23

"Quotes of the Week" are back! You can read what Quotes of the Week are HERE in the 1st one.

This is the 23rd Quotes of the Week after a few special editions were included.
And now they're all tagged! "quotes of the week" is it's own category that you can pull up down in the "BY TOPIC" section on the bottom right side of this blog. (or click HERE.)

so, here we go with the #1 Quote of the Week:
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”Jim Carrey, actor & funny man

“Yes, the church does have a mission. But it is better to say that God's mission has a church.” – Ed Stetzer, missiologist & author [right on! we (the Church) really need to "get" this!!!]

“Dramatic change is perceived as a threat to the status quo, primarily because it is.”Phyllis Tickle, author and former religion editor for Publisher's Weekly

“I believe that God's resources flow to us so that they can flow through us... not so we can live in a self-absorbed reality.” – Chris Brown, my pastor and mentor
  
"Funny isn't the opposite of serious but the opposite of not funny." - G.K. Chesterton, late great theologian and author

“When men let you down, the Lord never does.  Sometimes we preach about living by faith; other times God asks us to actually do it.” – Dan Burrell, my former pastor & boss [and a man in the middle of living out that quote]

“The problem isn’t that they stumble over the cross. The problem is that they stumble on the attitudes of some Christians and on the Christian subculture that we have put in their way before they can even get to the cross.” – Dan Kimball, pastor & author

“This is not to suggest that we will build God’s kingdom on earth. It is not ours to inaugurate, but we can help make it more visible, more tangible; we can initiate approximations of God’s coming reign.” – David J. Bosch, the brilliant South African theologian, missiologist, & author
 
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.MLK, late pastor and leader of the modern civil rights movement

Thursday, April 8, 2010

it's hard walking in their "shoes"

Today I went barefoot with I'm sure way over the 80,000 peeps who registered for "One Day Without Shoes" with TOMS.
You can read what I wrote about it HERE and HERE.
It's actually harder than you think walking in the "shoes" of children who don't have shoes. Not to mention all the horrible physical and health effects of not having shoes.

I still haven't worn shoes, sandals, or even socks all day. It's weird that that's weird.
It's weird doing things you don't normally do without shoes:

going about my day to day business.

walking the dog around the neighborhood.

walking across the cold tile floor.

working.

walking down the sidewalk and the street in the pouring rain.

having a drink in starbucks.


You can see the "official" TOMS video for "One Day Without Shoes" that i posted here on renown yesterday and linked above. it is awesome and as all the disturbing facts about children without shoes. But below enjoy my boy & favorite Jewish Reggae Rapper Matisyahu's remix video for One Day Without Shoes!



did you go barefoot today? Tell us about it!
Did you get any crazy looks? Anything weird happen? Did you have a chance to share the TOMS story?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"rev" (a special night)

A couple Sunday nights ago was a really special night. It was powerful. It was extremely meaningful. And I felt the presence of God big time!

My church ordained me and recognized God's call on my life. It was really really cool.
I'm still humbled by the whole process. Humbled that God would use me. Humbled that my church would recognize the Holy Spirit working in me and God calling me to something special. Humbled that I am nothing and can do nothing good on my own, but somehow God wants to use me for His glory.

I wrote some thoughts the night before my ordination HERE.
I've never really been to an ordination service, but I hear that this one was unlike any other.
It was also really cool to be ordained along with my boy Spanky, who is an awesome guy I have tons of respect for.

It was really cool to have a lot of special people there to be a part of the day with me!
Of course having my wife by my side was the best! She's been amazing in our journey together and I know the next 50 (or so) years together are going to be awesome. She's my greatest friend and the love of my life!

It was really special to have my parents there beside me too. I know God used them more than anyone or anything else to point me toward Him. They have loved and supported me know matter what my whole life. And they did their best to set me up so I could hear God's call when it came. I'm so thankful for their influence and the privilege of being raised by the greatest parents in the world!

My dad was a part of my ordination along with 2 other guys. My dad has been one of my #1 counselors, sounding boards, and spiritual advisors my whole life.  The 3 of them spoke some words of encouragement and counsel over me during my ordination.
The other 2 guys were:
my homeboy Ethan - we've journeyed together for almost 9 years now... figuring everything out together. Our hears are knit together with the same passions. He's one of my best friends in the world and like a brother to me. He works at Summit Church now.
& also my former pastor & boss, Dan Burrell. He has been awesome to me ever since I worked for him at Northside.

It was really special to have my wife's parents (my in-laws) there too. I lucked out in the in-law department because they are awesome. They spoke some awesome words over me that night. + my wife's grandparents and other family were there too.

I was honored to have a lot of peeps from Ridge there to support me + several peeps from Northside from my days there. It was almost like a reunion of many of the people who have played significant roles in my ministry life.

Then they all gathered around me and prayed over and for me. They prayed for Crystal and I. They prayed for our future. They prayed that God would use us for His glory. It was pretty hard core and I was loving it.

My pastor, Chris, also spoke to Spanky and I and challenged us. It was awesome. Nobody has influenced me these last 3 years like Chris has and I was honored that he sees something of the work of God in me.
He talked to us a lot about how vital it is to finish well. He said we've started great, but it's all about how we finish.
He spoke a lot to me about being a good husband to Crystal + he talked to Crystal a lot about the crazy life ahead of us. I'm so thankful for a pastor who sees the importance of us fighting for our healthy marriage.
*because of all this it was a really awesome night for Crystal and I just as a couple and in our marriage.

Ridge Church gave us some really awesome gifts that I really wasn't expecting and definitely wasn't necessary. Some other peeps did the same. Didn't know any of that was coming. Definitely a blessing.

The song that was kind of sung over me at the end is one of my all time favs. It's a prayer from David Livingstone from way back in the day, but it resounds with my heart as if I prayed it myself. I wrote about it a little the day after my ordination HERE. It was a POWERFUL moment of worship and surrender to God for me... asking Him to TAKE MY LIFE... it's all for Him... ALL of me.

we finished out the night with a freaking awesome "night of worship" for the whole church. It was intense and powerful.
can't wait to see what God does in this next chapter of my life and the next chapter of Ridge Church!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

one day without shoes (TOMS)

***This is an invite to EVERYONE reading to join me and thousands of others this Thursday, April 8th for "One Day Without Shoes" -> sponsored by TOMS Shoes to raise awareness for children in developing countries without shoes!

last year i went barefoot the whole day as a part of "One Day Without Shoes" and you can read about that HERE. this is a pic of me at the office barefoot last year.

If you don't know anything about TOMS - 1) where have you been?!? & 2) just click HERE and HERE and read up a little on what I've written about them in the past. in a simple sentence = TOMS are AWESOME!!!

If you don't have a pair of your own TOMS yet, what in the world are you waiting on?

Click HERE to sign up for "One Day Without Shoes" and we'll all go barefoot together! when someone gives you a strange look or asks you why you're barefoot, that's your perfect opportunity to explain the cause to them!

**I plan on being all around Charlotte on Thursday barefoot & I hope I bump into YOU barefoot as well!

here's the 2010 "One Day Without Shoes" video! Watch it & pay attention to all the "facts"! Let's help do something about it.


Monday, April 5, 2010

philosophy of sickness, work (& rest)...

a lot of times I work out my philosophy of something or my "theology" of a certain topic as i'm going through it. My philosophy and theology tend to be way more practical that way instead of just theoretical.

So, currently I am sick, but of course I also have to work.
I guess my philosophy of working while sick could be summed up as = "always show up if you can drag yourself to do it (unless it is harmful to you or someone else)."

Those are pretty much my practical thougths on the matter. If I'm sick (but not contagious - which would be harmful to others) then I drag myself to staff meetings on Mondays.
Yesterday morning I was pretty sick but was able to drag myself out of bed and into load in at Ridge at 6am. I functioned OK and went through all my responsibilities and I'm guessing most peeps wouldn't be able to tell that I was sick.
then i came home and crashed & rested hard the rest of the day.

This morning I woke up still sick and really wanted to stay in bed, but I always tell myself = If i lay in bed i'll just feel sick laying in bed, but if i get up and go to work i will feel sick while getting work done. May as well get some work done, right?

That's my philosophy. I try to at least do/accomplish something when I'm sick. Even if it's the easy tasks. Some things aren't worth it when you're sick, but still... you can at least do something.
Maybe this was ingrained in me from my Dad, who to my knowledge never missed 1 day of work due to sickness in all my 18 living at home?

I also put "rest" in the title because I recognize that sometimes you do just need to rest in order to get over a sickness. + I am a big time advocate of sabbath and that rest is a beautiful God-ordained & God-glorifying thing. You can read some more of my thoughts on rest/sabbath HERE and HERE.

Do you have a philosophy and/or theology of work & sickness?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

happy easter from Ridge!

tomorrow is Easter & you're definitely invited to Ridge Church tomorrow at 9 or 11AM.

whenever you come make sure you ARE NOT LATE!
Seriously. You need to be in your seat by early! If you are 5 minutes late you will miss somethign AWESOME. It's going to be powerful. Don't miss it.

Chris is kicking off a new series called "SAY". It's gonna be a crazy fun celebration tomorrow. might even be a little John Mayer in the house?

Friday, April 2, 2010

john.

so i read the book of John today.

i had an awesome sabbath at the beach at Lake Norman today. just me and God all day long. in the middle of his beauty.

i took a chunk of time to read John's gospel straight through. I'm reading each gospel straight through as part of a goal i have in 2010 to really understand The Gospel better. (that goal with some others is HERE.)

I read through Mark in 1 sitting earlier this year and that was awesome. John was really awesome - it was a cool time today reading it.

The big word i walked away with from John's gospel was BELIEVE
I kept reading that word over and over and over. Believe that Jesus is from God. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that Jesus is God. Believe in Jesus. Faith in Jesus.
And over and over those words and phrases were linked to "eternal life" which is John's phrase for the BEST life or "life to the full" (and John's version of "Kingdom of God" in Mark & "Kingdom of Heaven" in Matthew).

Throughout a chunk of the book "LOVE" was also a theme. LOVE EACH OTHER.
+ a lot of talk about God being glorified in Jesus and through Jesus and God glorifying Jesus, etc...

I think John gave his own purpose statement for his gospel in 20:31 = 
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." 

That pretty much sums it up. kinda like the "Cliff's Notes".
*But you gotta read the book! Get lost in the story! it's amazing. Legit Author too...