Does the Environment at Church Matter?

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I’ve been thinking lately about the power of an environment. A little while ago I was able to go on a trip with my wife Lisa to the Dominican Republic. We stayed in a resort where we could literally walk onto the beach. One morning we woke up before the sun and so we ventured out to watch the sunrise. I can’t remember the last time I did that and I never had done it on a beach on an island. Before I go any further, I should tell you I grew up around a lot of amazing technology, watched movies where they could do amazing things and populate my desktop background images with the most amazing pictures you could imagine. And yet as I stood there waiting, watching the horizon, it happened, the same thing that happens everyday whether I’m there to see it or not – the sun rose. It sounds so cheap to write that, because the sun didn’t just rise, it exploded in the most majestic, dare I say holy array of colors. Immediately I wondered, who am I that God would think of me? I mean look at what He can do and look at what He does with barely a thought, everyday whether someone is there to admire it or not. What that environment did to me was nothing short of miraculous. My mind rushed with awe, love, admiration, worship and humility. I was impacted by what God did and continues to do. And I realized something, God creates environments and it’s in environments that God does some incredible work. And what was also fascinating is how hundreds, thousands of people can experience the same environment I did and not be changed by it, drawn to Jesus and transformed, but that’s probably for another blog post.

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Focus Triggers-Holidays

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Thanks to a lot of technological advances, I’m beginning to remember things more than I used to, however if I ever lost my phone I’d be in big trouble. The reality is while I value a lot of things like my family, friendships, and taking care of things like our cars and equipment. I would often forget to do the right things when it came to all those high values. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that even though something is important to me, I still needed reminders that ensure that I lived out those values.

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Part of My Story at Grace Part 5

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We come to the second to last post in the blog series. In our next post I’m going to share the thing that I didn’t expect to see lately and the thing that truly pushes this over the edge.
But first, we need to cover the final “WIN” team. As you recall, we developed 3 areas that need to be addressed now (WIN = What’s Important Now). So far we’ve looked at our “Small Group Model Rebuild”; our “Weekend Experience Renewal:Game Day”. And now the final area: “Facility Expansion/ Enhancement”.

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Part of My Story at Grace Church pt.1

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So I’m not sure where to really discuss this topic, so I figured I’ll start here. So those of you who make your way to the blog will get some insider/ behind the scenes Grace Church info in the next few posts. So where do I begin?

Well ya know it’s been almost 10 full years that I’ve been the lead pastor at Grace. I was brought here by the search team/elders/congregation and told to “help us reach people who aren’t here yet.” This resonated with my heart and I got to work day one. I made my share of mistakes, moved too quickly at times, moved to slowly at others, acted with courage and boldness at times and fear and timidness at other times. But in all of what we did, we never deviated from a mission to help people take one step closer to loving Jesus and loving others. This meant we needed (and continue to need) to strengthen the faith and action of believers in Jesus. It also meant (and means) we need to be intelligible and relevant to those who are either not yet believers or people coming “back” to church after a long hiatus. This has caused us to adjust our music, our sermons and pretty much everything from top to bottom. I’ve never believed what I was told, “either you need to be a church that is effective for new people OR you can be a church to help believers grow, but you can’t do both!” I just don’t buy it. The early church successfully did both and I think it comes down to never watering down the Truth, but communicating hard truths in a way that people can understand them and respond to them (and a little humor never hurt :)). To be honest, I find a lot in common with those who don’t know Jesus and those who do — we are both seeking life, meaning and purpose and so we can speak to that longing which is really what it means to be human, am I right?

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At Grace, We value Participating in Authentic Community

I am taking several weeks here to talk through the seven values of Grace Church. Values, while maybe on the surface, sound like a boring topic – are actually critical and essential. Let me rephrase that – can be critical and essential. Too many organizations have a document with values written down and often there are a different set of unspoken values that are lived out. Some organizations have values but never really think much about them. At Grace – values shape us – they describe our DNA and really what makes us unique as a church. If you want to read about the first 3 of the 7 values look back in the archives of this blog. Now – moving forward to the next value: “Participating in Authentic Community”

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At Grace, We Value Being Others Focused

I am taking a few weeks here to walk through each of the 7 values of Grace Church and explore them from my perspective. So far:
1. Anticipating God’s Movement
2. Being People in Process

Now, #3….Being Others Focused

There are several aspects to this value, but the bottom line is that it’s not about me (or you in this case). We believe that God has called us as a church and as believers to be “others focused”. So what does it mean for a church to value being others focused?

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At Grace we value Being People in Process

Ok here’s the second of seven values I am sharing in this current blog series: Being people in process. If you’ve been at Grace for any length of time you’ve probably heard this phrase or seen this value lived out. It’s funny because it’s one of those “duh” kind of values but it’s weird how little we often feel it in so many churches. I don’t think anyone ever says we need to be perfect or that we need to have it all together — but the subtle message seems to be present in a lot of religious institutions. This is one of the reasons we want to say it often and live it even more than that. Being people in process, is different from not being perfect though. People in process implies movement, direction and growth. One of the things we say is: “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

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At Grace, We value Anticipating God’s Movement

So, here we go – the first of 7 values I want to share with you that really form the DNA of Grace Church Roseville. First: We value anticipating God’s movement.

It’s really amazing to me, it’s been happening for months now, every Sunday morning myself and several other leaders walk around with this overwhelming sense: God is going to do something today. It’s been so freeing because I really feel very little “pressure” when I preach – I just get up there and say what I believe God is calling me to say and expect that God will use it. I am hearing similar reports from music folks, Catalyst teachers, and leaders in our kids ministry. And not only do we anticipate God’s movement, we’re seeing it — so much so that it’s becoming our new “normal”. I’m not sure why I am so surprised by that, I shouldn’t be — but ya know, it’s a very cool thing when you actually see it happening. And the stuff that we do without God really is of little value anyway. What does Jesus say in John 15? “Without me, you can do nothing”.

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