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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Political Pressures

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I’m not sure I’ve seen what I see in our country and society when it comes to the division and emotions. It seems we are all asked to pick a side, name our view and whatever little thing we may choose to say or post on social media we are immediately ushered onto a team and told that this is now our team and we must espouse the views of this team. We are quickly put into categories, black and white, right and wrong. The somewhat crazy thing to me is that while we may not agree with many of the stands of the particular team we are placed on, we are not allowed to have no team. Every view point or opinion is clearly a reflection of our team. It’s just not that easy and I think we do a disservice to one another when we villianize or applaud based on a comment or thought. This is incredibly difficult as a pastor and as a church. And it’s times like today where I am most thankful that we have chosen years ago to not make political comments as a church. Our philosophy has always been, “we know that we likely only get people’s attention for a minute and if we only have a minute we want to be known for Jesus – we are about Jesus, we want you to know Jesus and we want Jesus to be what we’re known for!!” It’s not that we don’t or I don’t have opinions, I do. In fact we all have opinions whether we know anything about the issue! 🙂 But I don’t want to be known and I don’t want our church to be known for our opinions, but for our Jesus! That is where change really is possible!

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#FuelGrace

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As I read the Scriptures, particularly the book of Acts we see people on the move, a church on mission and it’s exciting. It’s not without significant challenges to overcome, fears to fight through and people to love and sometimes lovingly confront. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be one of those early pastors. And in light of our theme of #FuelGrace I noticed some other interesting things about that early church. They were fueled regularly. There were people and resources that were provided in order to see the mission go forward. In some cases it was merely the encouragement of people they met. In other cases it was some physical resource or money that allowed an aspect of the mission to go forward. In still other cases there were people who jumped on board and said, “count me in”. Each one of those actions fueled the work of God. But here’s where it got a little interesting for me: who was really “fueled” in those cases?

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