Do Your Job

So God has been working on me lately, especially in the area of what I can and can’t control. And I think if most of us are honest, we spend a lot of time and energy on things we can’t control. We worry, stress, get anxious about the unknown and the uncontrollable. In fact if I’m really honest with you, I probably spend more mental and emotional energy on things I can’t control than on things I can.

I found that this is not overly helpful for my daily attitude nor my relationship with God. So this past Saturday at our leadership gathering we were given 30 minutes to be alone with God and think and pray and I felt like God was saying to me: “Jason, you can’t control what you can’t control, so do your job!”

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Friday!! My Big Announcement

Ha — I’m definitely way “over-hyping” this; but I’ve shared this news with a very small group of people and they have be shocked, appalled and asked what is wrong with me. So as I reflected on it, I thought maybe this is bigger news than I think? (I’m smiling) It’s really only big news if you’ve been following me on the blog, facebook, twitter or listen casually to any of my sermons — it tends to show up there and if that’s you, you may find it big news — otherwise, you probably won’t care. Ok, get on with it… okay, here’s the news…

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Church doesn’t connect

If you’re thinking church is boring, or irrelevant. If you’re having trouble making the connection it might be more about you than church. Did I just say that? Well, I didn’t really say it, I wrote it, but let me explain. I once thought hockey was boring (I know, I know, I do remember what state I live in and how inflamatory that sentence really is). And I will say that today, I doubt you’d catch me watching any hockey on TV. However about a year or so ago now, one of the guys from Grace took me to a hockey game and he sat next to me telling me what was going on and explaining the game. I gained a huge appreciation for the sport and the athletes who play it. And I guarantee you if I went out now and got to play it a little, I would love it even more. The point is, the more I engaged, asked questions and stepped forward – the less boring and irrelevant it became. I’m convinced one of the reasons we can think church is boring or irrelevant is because we sit comfortably on the side lines and don’t get into the “game”. I believe this is also one of the reasons why many of our high school students in churches around the country graduate from high school and graduate from church — they’re not “leaving” church because they never were really a part of it! They were comfortably tucked away in a youth ministry and had little to no interaction with other generations, with church ministry, service and authentic worship. Whether your a student or an adult – life is about engagement! This is why our strategy here has been built around “steps”. The more we step forward to begin serving in a ministry, reaching out to a neighbor, plugging into a Catalyst — the more we begin to see our faith come alive and we begin to listen to sermons differently and we view activites differently as well. The big flaw in our strategy as a church is we can’t control the stepper — meaning, we can’t make anyone step forward — we can create the environments, provide the challenges — but ultimately the person needs to take the step. Now, I’ll give you that some churches don’t make it easy and some environments make it hard to see the relevance or the joy — so I’m not saying any church is off the hook here — but I wonder what would happen if we as the people began to think more about ways to engage and less about the products and services being offered. They may just find a way to not only come alive, but make the environment even better as they become part of the solution! What’s your next step?

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What’s up with this Blog? pt.2: New stuff coming!

In the final installment of our “house-keeping” blog post series, I wanted to share some more thoughts with you. Some new ideas coming soon…

Here’s the biggie: I’m going to continue trying to post 2-3 blogs a week about various things related to church life, spiritual growth, sermon highlights and some thoughts/opinions I’m beginning to form and develop, so you the faithful readers will be the first to know!

However, the new news is I want to add some consistent “lightness” to this blog, some weeks, maybe even some “humor”? Every Friday will be “Friday-Fun-Day” or some less corny name — I plan to use each Friday to talk about any of the following topics/ categories:

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What’s Up with this BLOG?? Pt.1: Why do I blog?

A couple of updates, new ideas and possibilities here with this blog…
Allow me first to share why I chose to start blogging:

1. I began blogging partly because of my church experience growing up. I grew up in a Christian family in and around church a lot. The senior pastor was a distant figure who was impossible to “know” outside of weekly sermons, often which did not include many personal thoughts and stories. I appreciated the messages and found them helpful, but didn’t always connect them to my everyday. There were a number of things both from growing up in church and then working as a staff member for 14 years in various church environments where I said to myself, “if I’m ever in the lead chair, I’d like to do some things differently.” One was to share more of who I am and try to more “accessible”. I knew in a church of 800+ that being accessible would be difficult since I wouldn’t be able to meet with everyone, nor even have personal interactions with everyone — it’s impossible with that many people. So this blog, on one hand is an attempt to have “personal conversations” with anyone who is curious or would like to connect. It’s a way for me to share raw and personal thoughts, stories and developing opinions with a larger group of people. I also started a twitter account for much the same reason-to build a bridge etc.

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People of the Second Chance

Last Sunday we started the new series, People of the Second Chance. Do we see ourselves as needing a second chance? We live in a culture that tells us, “if they really knew…” they wouldn’t be around you. I am not sure that’s so true though. I find when people are willing to be honest, to be themselves, to admit they don’t have it together, that I’m more drawn to them. I feel safer, I feel like I can actually be myself. It’s the people who act like they have it together that make me nervous, defensive and want to “cover” my own inadequacies. And we all have inadequacies, none of us is perfect. Why is it so hard to admit that?
In the Bible, in Romans, it says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” — All! And I sometimes here Christians say, “sure, I believe that all have sinned, but that was my life before I became a Christian — now I’m working hard to do what’s right.” Yet I think they forget that all of our own righteousness is like filthy rags to God. The good in and out of us is God’s work through us, not our work ourselves. Why are we so tempted to take credit when we do what’s right and do quick to blame someone or something else when we do what’s wrong?

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Putting the FUN back in Fundamental

“Church is boring”; “Church doesn’t connect with real life”

I’ve heard the comments but I can’t reconcile them with the Bible. The Bible is all about real life and real people. The Bible is full of humor and even some sarcasm (which I’m personally glad about, since I enjoy a sarcastic comment every now and again). So how can a Bible about real life and a God who loves to celebrate and bring joy produce churches that miss that mark? Not sure I have the answer but I know I want to be a part of a church that seeks to be a solution rather than add to the problem. The team here at Grace enjoys laughter and fun – just observe us playing a game of catch phrase and you’ll see it. Tag along for a “staff lunch” and it comes out. Basically we have a hard time doing anything without a little fun tied in. And that’s the way I believe church should be! A couple of years ago the staff got a bobble-head made of me – it’s kinda of eerie to see your own face bobbling back and forth on your book shelf. I also seek to bring a sense of honesty and realism to the preaching here too, I was gonna say a sense of humor, but I think most of my “humor” makes me laugh, but I’m not sure anyone else. Sure, I get it, what we’re all involved in is serious stuff, life and death and eternity kind of stuff. But why do we think we can’t hold strong to the fundamentals, the critical non-negotiables and yet still be able to smile once in a while? I once heard a preacher who said, “if Jesus is your life and joy, please tell your face.”

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What a Team! Part 2

Yesterday I posted a blog talking about the amazing team I get to serve with every day here. Each person brings something unique to what we do. A few people have commented about the fact that “you guys seem to have so much fun with what you do.” And yes, we do! So to let you in on the rest of the Pastoral/Ministry staff, here’s some observations…

Scott Larson, Business Administrator – We need to get a different title for Scott because he is soooo much more than a business administrator, working behind the scenes to make everything flow smoothly from leading our ministry assistants, to handling the finances, public relations, teaching, sounding board and one of the most articulate people I’ve ever met. Scott is known for making financial reports actually interesting to listen to although he starts most of his sentences, with “I’ll make this brief” or “I won’t bore you with the details” and then proceeds to share for a little while some important details we need to know. 🙂 I’m not sure what our team would be like without Scott, but it wouldn’t be pretty, I’ll tell you that much!

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What a Team! part 1

Things have been nuts around here lately, and when the stress is high, the deadlines looming and the workload overwhelming, it can be easy to get frustrated with the people around you and have your patience wear thin. It’s times like this that I think it’s important to pause, reflect, remember and celebrate the people that surround you. And so, to give you some insight into our team, let me share some of the fun, interesting things that I appreciate about them…

Steve Crane, Pastor of Care (and interim point guy for our youth ministry) – Steve is the heart of our team in the sense that he cares about everyone in a unique, gifted way. Some refer to him as the “pappa bear” of our office, but more the warm fuzzy kind of bear rather than ferocious, mauling kind. I often stand in awe of how he exercises his God-given gifts. And while we like to pick on him, he’s well-loved by our team!

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