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I’m still learning.

Chilly —  October 9, 2014 — 9 Comments

Notes from my journal
(This Sunday we celebrate 10

years of ministry in Detroit.)

Things I’m learning today

… that I had NO clue about 10 years ago.
Part One.

It’s OK that everyone isn’t pumped about your passions.

  • 10YearsOfLearningWhen we moved to plant in Detroit we were certain God had sent us and therefore we expected that everyone else would joyfully and generously support us.
  • Some people discouraged us to even come to Detroit — especially with 3 small girls at the time.
  • Some people avoided me — probably because they knew I would ask to be their missionary (which means ‘I need some money’).
  • Some took a wait and see position. IF we didn’t give up, perhaps they would back us later…
  • Others had things that they were passionate about that I probably totally missed (because I was so focused on my assignment).

We have to learn that it’s ok that others don’t get all excited about the thing that we see as God’s highest priority. Don’t become jaded because they don’t cheer, or give or promote.

How you measure success could be totally wrong.

  • I had seen things (ministries) grow AMAZINGLY fast in my last two youth ministries prior to coming to Detroit.
  • Hundreds and hundreds were impacted weekly
  • We were winning & discipling teens all the time! Our city knew about us, the schools all knew about us, the media knew about us — we were rocking our world for Christ. We were growing so fast that it was like controlled chaos!

This didn’t happen quite so fast when we planted.

  • I guess the roots required to support the fruit we hoped for, would have to push through some concrete-hard soil. We would have to pray harder, wait longer, believe greater and remain faithful. This where is character develops. Intercession, fasting & perseverance are necessities.
  • Sure, we’ve grown and we’ve moved forward. New buildings. New communities.
  • People may not see the huge numbers (fruit) yet, but IF they could only see our roots, WOW!

You’re calling is connected to obedience and faithfulness. So, stick to it.

People who love you are capable of detesting you. Love them anyways!

  • Yeah, this one stings a bit. Always does.
  • I’ve never had a moral failure, I’ve never embezzled funds , I’ve never abused my kids, I’ve never been unfaithful to my wife, I’ve never split the church and I’ve never tried to hurt people.
  • Yet, I’ve hurt people, offended people and let others down.
  • Some can’t stand the mention of my name.
  • Most of these were those who were once close — very close — but, I pushed too hard, was indifferent to their struggles and challenged them to extremes in holiness.
  • I didn’t listen enough.
  • I thought out loud – became too vulnerable – revealed my kryptonite.

I don’t think you can question my love — I loved! But, imperfectly.

  • Some appeared to be loved more than others. He has ‘favorites’ or ‘a clique’ … this was never intentional but I also did not push away those that preferred being closer.

Ultimately, things changed with and/or in them. I missed it.

  • I was expected to know, embrace and follow a script that I had never been given. I let them down unintentionally (but that’s probably not how they saw it). “How could I be so clueless?” I am.

The pain is always more severe because it involves my wife and kids. They are rendered victims to misunderstandings and shattered expectations. They get cut-off & kicked in the stomach with no explanation. People who said they loved them, disappeared without a goodbye and after saying they would always be there for them (should we ever say ‘always’??)…

So, I simply try to keep the bridges from burning between us. I learn from each heart break. Apologize. Forgive. LOVE.

  • I pray that they will, one day, remember: the spiritual investment I have made — the good times — the adventures — the things that matter.
  • I pray that they will remember that we are not enemies. That we are fighting the same monster and these hurts & feelings are distractions from our mission.

And, I keep getting close to NEW people. This isn’t always easy. The door of our lives and home continues to swing open. We continue to believe in others. We continue to do our best to make disciples. We continue to love.

Miracles happen daily. Don’t miss them!

  • Oh sure, we all believe in miracles.
  • I pray for HUGE miracles all the time. But, here’s something I’ve missed SO often: ‘little’ miracles.
  • While seeking the jumbo offering, new church building, qualified staff, supernatural healing and other big-time miracles, FIGHT to see and revel in the little things!
  • People are changing, hearts or softening, doors are opening, someone is smiling, your spouse still adores you, friends love you, people are growing closer to Jesus, bills are getting paid, leaves are changing on the trees, you smell good coffee, the car started, God spoke your name in prayer today, you had milk for your cereal this morning, you remembered something and Hey! You’re ALIVE!
  • Shout, dance, sing and enjoy these daily miracles.
  • They are dress-rehearsal for the bigger miracles that ARE COMING SOON!

Never become so focused on the BIG — it’s gonna take a miracle — stuff that you miss the wonderful miracles happening constantly all around you. Find yourself praising God at various times and in unique places.

Glorify Him!

Be sure to check out Part Two next!

9 C’s of Church Planting

Chilly —  July 15, 2014 — 6 Comments

This is a revised & updated post.
Shared with the Accelerate Network in June 2014.

Church Planting is awesome! I love it!

courageChurchIs it tough? Oh yes! But, is it worth it? Always! Over the last 10 years, I’ve planted three church campuses in the inner city communities of Detroit. My family (incredible wife & 5 amazing kids) live right in the heart of the city. We do not have any full-time paid staff and we continually are in need of funds and resources just to get by … THIS IS FAITH! I’ve been chosen by God to share His love & truth in the most dangerous city in America. This isn’t punishment, it’s an honor! In addition to leading Courage Church, I am also Church Planting and Network minister for Mount Hope Church.

I think church planters are a rare breed:

  • We’re thrill-seeking pioneers with apostolic anointing.
  • We eat impossible for breakfast!
  • We hear God’s heartbeat in HD surround sound every where we go!
  • We smile through trials and accept pain as confirmation for pleasing God.
  • We get dissed & deserted by those we love.
  • We get to share in the most WONDERFUL moments in the life of a person or community.
  • Big time spiritual stuff! Yes, it’s worth it!

We don’t just believe in miracles, we depend on them.

I was recently asked, “what’s it take to be a church planter?” … I took some time to pray & think about this, then scribbled the following in my journal. Maybe it’s unique to me – that’s ok. But, maybe it’s for others too – even better! My prayer is that you would be encouraged, inspired and equipped to do WHATEVER God created you to do and that you would get BUSY doing it!

9 C’s of Church Planting

1. Calling
Friends, IF God didn’t tell you to do it, please DON’T do it! There will be times that you have to go back to the moment when you KNEW God called you to this task. There can be no doubts. IF He has called you, get going! “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 — don’t ever forget that you’re called to make disciples and that’s, exactly, what you want to build your church with!

2. Courage
The Bible is filled with “Be Brave – Be Strong – Be Fearless” challenges. But, my friends, even a Biblical pep talk is not enough. Your personal faith & trust in God is where Courage is born & grown. The bravest thing you can do is obey God. Learn His voice, know His Word and determine to never quit!

3. Creativity
This is an area where many feel lacking. But, I know two things: 1] God is the creator and 2] He has made some amazingly creative people. IF you’re not creative, there’s still no excuse, tap into the creative heart of God through the Holy Spirit. And, recruit some creative people!

4. Colleagues
God made us for relationship. We need other people in our life. I know that it’s an old cliche, but you’ve got to BE the friend you want to have. Serve others, praise others, bless others. He will send amazing people who share your heart & vision — be sure to be a good steward of this gift. Fight for their families, insist that they sabbath and compliment them privately & publicly. Lead them with your life!

5. Commitment
You must decide right up front: Quitting Isn’t an Option! This often involves removing & destroying “Plan B” — when God called Elisha ( 1 Kings 19), he chopped up all his plows, killed all his oxen and had a going away BBQ for his friends & family. He couldn’t go back to his old life – it was nothing but ashes.

6. Character
This is who you are when no one else is looking! It’s known MOST by your family and close friends — and, it’s revealed in your long-term effectiveness. Tell the truth ALWAYS, never cheat in anything, be accountable in everything and live what you profess. Your disciples will become what you are not what you say.

7. Compassion
Love, love, love, love, LOVE!! Love God & Love others! Climb into the eyes of Jesus and see the ‘GREAT’ in every person that you meet. DON’T just love those easy to love or who love you back. Love your critics & haters too! You’ll be surprised who responds to God’s love and who becomes your greatest allies ALL because you showed the unconditional love of Christ! When in doubt, LOVE more!

8. Covering  ( suggested by: Pastor Edgar Cabello)

Seek deliberate covering both through prayer and by oversight. There are lots of church planting networks and associations. ARC, Acts29, CMN, etc. they are fantastic and provide relationships and resources — as well as funding support. But, I’ve found that we still function best with a parent church body that we are connected to. Perhaps this could be an extension of ‘colleagues’ (#4) but it speaks more towards a trusted authority (parent) who is involved in our development and nurturing.

9. Contentment.  (suggested by: Pastor Steve Gagne)
This is a tricky one, because I never want to be content with where I am spiritually, and always seeking more of the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life, and more relationships with others . But, at the some time, we also find ourselves comparing the work we are called to do against the work of others—my church compared to his church. We face seasons of much work, and seemingly slow growth; and it can be easy to start looking around. The “what am I doing wrong” or “what is he doing right” thoughts creep in. We must be content in the process in which God is taking us though, and not go looking for apparent shortcuts. There are no shortcuts… keep your hands on the plow and remain faithful.

Plus, “Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~Unknown

The above list is, obviously, NOT Comprehensive (hmmm, another “C” word). In fact, some of  you may feel like it needs a #10 in order to be more complete. Hmmm, ok, here’s ONE MORE:

10. CASH! 

You better be good at asking for money, seeing friends run and hide; and then asking for more! It’s tough to “give people the opportunity to invest into the Kingdom” (or some other spiritual way to say “beg”).

You must truly believe in what you’re doing and have a plan to invest ANY gift that you receive big or small. And, perhaps the best way to receive generously is to be generous! Give what you need. Sow into others. And, when you receive a gift, SEND A THANK YOU!

Ok, now, that’s really it! At least for now… Calling, Courage, Creativity, Colleagues, Commitment, Character, Compassion, Covering and Contentment… and, yeah, Cash!

Q: Which one of these “C’s” stood out to you? Why?

Embrace Your Call

Chilly —  June 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibilityThese seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. Acts 6:2-3; 6-7

GodCallThere’s NO small job in our service to the King.

Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and power (like the apostles) but his gifts were towards benevolence and pastoring rather than preaching, teaching and missions. This didn’t make his calling less important or second rate. In fact, it was Stephen – not the apostles – that was first viewed as a viable threat to the enemy.  This would lead to his only recorded sermon spoken moments before he was stoned to death. His life mattered which is witnessed by Jesus STANDING, at the right side of the Father, as Stephen breathed his last breath.

We MUST all learn to embrace our unique callings and abilities and STOP comparing and competing. Serving God and people requires every kind of person. And we are ALL part of one body.

When this is done right, “God’s message continues to spread – the number of believers greatly increases”BOOM!

Let’s do our part to see this happen!
Chilly

Your anointing is whatever you do well and enjoy

  1. Do you know what this is?
  2. How are you using it to serve God and others?

 

Inventory

Chilly —  March 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

inventoryOn Sundays, I often take some time to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of my life and ministry. I want to be sure that I’m accurately expressing the mission and heart of Courage Church and Mount Hope Church; and also living the calling and destiny God has purposed for my life.

Several years ago, I came across a list that challenged me – since then, I return to it from time to time to take inventory and to add to the list. It expresses a noble quest that I deeply desire. It, in part, shares my desire for us to be…

                                  A Courageous Community of Faith where:

  • We love God SO much! And we listen to and are obey Him.
  • People who are not Christians become growing followers of Jesus seven days a week!
  • Those who are not involved in the work of His church would become an active part of it.
  • People are deeply connected to God in all of life; body, mind, soul and spirit.
  • Beauty, art and creativity are valued, used, and understood as coming from the Creator.