That Inner Nervous Energy…Some of Us Thrive On It

Do you know that nervous energy you get when you face the uncertainty of life?

You feel it when you assume a overwhelming risk…

It’s that emotion…that adrenaline rush…almost an inner fear…

Yet something inside prompts you to proceed in spite of the nervousness…

You feel it deep in your gut…

Ever felt it?

Well here’s the reality…

Some of us…as awkward, difficult, stressful, and even painful as it can be…

Live for that emotion…

You’ll find it in entrepreneurs…
You’ll find it in church planters…
You’ll find it among risk-takers…
You’ll find it in extreme sports enthusiasts…

I think the Apostle Paul must have had it…

It’s an inner drive to achieve, to accomplish, to pursue big dreams, conquer huge obstacles…

And achieve what others will not attempt…

I think it can be a God-given emotion…

It can be abused…

It must be used carefully…

But it shouldn’t be wasted…

Can anyone identify with that emotion I’m describing?

When’s the last time you felt that nervous energy?

(Share other examples of people who seem to enjoy this emotion.)

7 Things We’ve Learned about Reaching Today’s Youth

The statistics are staggering. The older a child gets today, the greater his or her chances are of disappearing from the church. The church must intentionally plan to reverse this trend.

Grace Community Church is built around a desire to reach people who may not have previously been interested in church. We love when people bring their friends. This vision extends to reaching the youth of our community. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

If the church wants to reach young people these days, here are 7 things we must do:

Love them – Young people today seem to crave genuine, no strings attached, healthy love from other adults…and they want it to be unconditional love…through the good times of their life and the times they mess up.

Be biblically true – Young people today don’t seem to want fluff. They want an authentic, honest approach to the Bible. Whether they believe all of it yet or not, they want people who say they believe it to teach what they believe…and be willing to discuss it with them if needed.

Be culturally relevant – Young people today have been exposed to the problems, challenges, and changes in the world today. They are more socially conscious than in years past. They want the church to be addressing the needs they see in the world around them.

Give them a place to serve and support them in their pursuits – Young people today want to make a difference. They want to be a part of change. They want to serve somewhere they believe is doing good work and makes a positive impact on the world and they may even want to help lead the effort.

Value their ideas and input – You have to allow young people to do things their way…with technology…within groups of friends…sometimes unscripted…etc. A church that is bent on protecting the past over creating the future turns young people away from the church.

Be genuine/transparent with them – Young people today want to learn from the mistakes of those older than them. Pretending as if we’ve always been wonderful doesn’t help them deal with the issues they are dealing with today. They need living examples of battling life’s temptations, struggles, and fears.

Guide them – Young people today want direction. They want help making life’s decisions, but they want it done in a way that helps them understand wise choices, but gives them freedom to choose their own path. Young people today need adults who will walk with them through the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

What would you add to my list? How is your church reaching the youth of today?

BTW, notice I didn’t say anything about music. It’s a bonus if you give them worship styles they enjoy, but I’m not convinced it’s a necessity if the others on this list are kept.

Connecting with our Community…Partnering with our Schools

I love the passion Grace Community Church has to impact our community. Our people serve their community throughout the year. The largest project, and the one that draws the most attention, is our annual Operation Serve held each fall where hundreds of volunteers serve in a one (sometimes two) day blitz of community needs. I’ve written about it several times before HERE. This past year over 1,300 people logged some 10,000 hours of service to our community meeting all kinds of practical needs.

Well, another project is stirring interest. Our community, like many others nationwide, have experienced struggles adequately funding school systems.  How can a church respond in times like these?

Introducing Operation Serve School Edition.

April 9th we hope to have hundreds of people volunteering in all 35 schools in our public school district. Operations Serve School Edition invites the community to participate with our church in landscaping, painting, cleaning, and completing other things the school needs done, but the budget simply can’t provide. The schools are compiling lists now and materials are being acquired.

To accomplish such a large task, we are also partnering with 5 Star Radio Group. They are providing publicity to recruit volunteers and providing tremendous moral support the day of the event with live remotes.

It’s catching on already. What we are finding is that whether a person attends church or not, they have an interest in educating children. Here are a few articles already talking about Operation Serve School Edition:

Besides the fact that we meet in a school…actually two schools…and doing a church our size and age would be very difficult without this partnership with our school system, it makes sense to invest in our schools this way because:

We love our schools. Our church and community are blessed with teachers, administrators and support staff who love the children and youth of our community. They are helping to build the future of our community. They need our support.

We love our community. Our church exists because the community exists. Everyone in our community may not all come to our church, but all our church lives among this community. We want to do anything we can do to support the community in which we live.

We love families. Families are a large part of who we are at Grace and the bulk of families in our community attend public schools.

We love God and others. We are called to be in the world, meeting real needs where we find them. That’s the example of Jesus.

Come join us in Operation Serve School Edition. If you live in the area, you can sign up HERE.

What are some creative ways you’re seeing churches connect with their community these days?

What Do You Do to Relax?

I’m away for a few days relaxing with Cheryl and another couple.  We are at a beach, eating well, and doing basically nothing.  I will spend some time reading, running, and writing…because that’s relaxing to me.

I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to ask the question:

What do you do to relax?

What’s a normal relaxation experience like…the kind you do often (hopefully)?

What is a dream relaxation experience (the kind you plan and budget for)?

Go!  Share!

A Theory: Speed of Growth Determines Speed of Decline

Theory: The rate of increase, often determines the rate of decline.

In my early twenties, I was working in retail and this theory developed in my mind as I watched dozens of items gather immediate interest, grow rapidly in popularity, quickly rack up sales, but then as a fad changed, the item sales just as quickly decline.  I called it my “fad theory”.  Other items grew slower, but styles changed gradually and so they slowly began to decline in sales.

Let me give you two classic examples I observed firsthand:

Item One: Michael Jackson “Thriller” jackets – Do you remember the red, multi-zippered jackets made popular from the music videos? When that video came out, the song and the jacket became an overnight success. We couldn’t get the jacket fast enough. Every order we received sold out within hours.  They couldn’t make enough of them. Then one day…right after we received a huge shipment of jackets…another overnight success happened in the music industry. I don’t remember the song, but I do remember no one wanted a Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket.  We had racks of them remaining, but sold some for $1.88 in a Moonlight Madness sale and gave many of them away to charity.  We lost all our profits from the rapid sales in the rapid decline.

Item Two: Penny Loafers – Do you remember the leather loafer that had a slot for a “penny” in the front?  Although loafers had been around for years, and continue to be worn today, in the 1980’s Michael Jackson gave them attention again, as he was continually seen wearing them.  The growth, however, was gradual.  It took a couple seasons for their popularity to spread through the culture, but soon our retail shelves were full of them.  They remained popular for several years, but gradually, as new styles were introduced, their sales began to slowly fade.

I wondered at the time (and still do), that if we could somehow measure the rate of growth, if we could better predict the rate of decline.

I have continued to observe this theory outside of the retail environment, so many times that I’d almost call it a principle.  I’ve seen it in business, in churches, and even in relationships.  The speed of the growth will greatly play a part in the speed of decline.

Please understand, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with fast growth…I kind of like it…but we should know that the rate of decline, should decline occur, may be swift.  Additionally, this is not a theory that reinforces the saying “what goes up must come down”.  I’m not completely sure I agree with that one.  This is a theory about velocity…that if something does begin to decline, it will decline at a similar speed in which it grew.

As a closing application example, in my current church, I have continually reminded our staff that because we have experienced rapid growth, what we have is more tender…our people don’t have as deep of roots and we don’t have the solid financial base of an established church, etc. I’m not hoping for, predicting, or expecting a decline anytime soon, but what it does remind me is that if we ever had something dramatic occur in the life of our church, such as a moral failure of a key pastor, that our rate of decline could be as fast as our rate of growth has been.

There’s my theory…apply as needed.

Does this theory make sense to you? Have you seen an example you could share with us here?

Scripture Memorization, Week 7

How are you doing with the Scripture memorization?  Are you still participating?

I love hearing from those who are sticking with it, trying hard, and even the ones who just can’t keep up with the weekly pace.  I understand.  Some years are better than others at spiritual disciplines.  I hope, however, that you’ll keep trying.  It’s still not too late to catch up if you need to, as I’ve tried to keep the verses…at this point in the year…fairly simple to memorize.

Again, writing them down somewhere you will see throughout the week is a key. Some write them on mirrors, a few have made them their laptop or smart phone backdrop for the week, and others have them on their refrigerator.  Whatever it takes!

Here’s this week’s memory verse. I was reading recently (again) the story of Noah.  What made Noah a successful man of faith?  I think this verse explains it.

If you were to do more than memorize this verse…and actually live it…what would need to change in your life?

Friday Discussion: Is Social Media a Blessing or a Curse?

There’s a consistent debate about the role of social media in our lives today.

There’s no doubt that I’ve embraced the cultural shift of socail media, but because of it, I have received criticism as if that means I’m not doing other things I should be doing.  I’ve been online doing ministry for over 16 years and have developed good systems that allow me to do much online efficiently, but  I knew it was “catching on” when my mother got on Facebook.  Still, it does take time and, with limited time for all of us, that time has to take away from something else.

I’ve heard people say it would have been better for the family had the television never been invented.   I wonder what the same people would say of social media. Some feel we shouldn’t be doing it all at all.

More importantly, I’m wondering today what you will say.

Let’s discuss the role of social media. Consider these questions, then add your thoughts in a comment.

  • Should the church be involved in social media?
  • Does social media help or hurt a relationship?
  • Are Facebook or Twitter beneficial to a relationship or is a distraction in building true friendships?
  • In a perfect world, would we have social media?
  • Does it add to or take away from the quality of our lives?
  • Is it an unavoidable evil or a blessing for us all?

Be honest!

A Weather Reminder…About Life

This has been a wild winter…

“They” say it’s not our worst…not even close…but it certainly has seemed to be more intense than usual this year…

Every morning I look at my Google Home Page and see the current and future weather forecast.  Seeing the -2 degrees this morning caused my initial reaction to be “Wow!”  I was bummed.  I’m ready to get outside.  It could have affected my mood for the day (probably will to some extent), but then I looked a little further into the weather future forecast.  Do you see that number?  54!  Fifty-Four degrees!  My thought was “Yippee!”  If I can hang on a few days, it’s about to get wonderful outside!  It changed my disposition.

I wonder how many times we need to do that in life. That weather picture could also serve as a picture of our life at times.  Some days it’s cold and dreary…other days it’s bright and sunny.  We struggle during the rough weather seasons, forgetting that this day will change.  When we only look at our current situation, we can be disheartened, but a new day is coming!  As believers, we have the promise of a greater future.  If not today, or tomorrow, soon and very soon, God is going to make everything beautiful!

I’m reminded of a few favorite verses of truth:

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him 1 Corinthians 2:9

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Do you need that reminder today? Perhaps you need to take your eyes off today and look a little further down the road.  Good days are coming.  If you’re in difficult days, I’m praying God brings better days soon, but He has promised that the best days are yet to come!

Let me hear from you…

Are you currently living in a -2 degree time of life…or is it 54 and sunny in your world during this season of your life?

3 Song Lyrics that have Proven True


The older I get, the more I reflect on the past. Is that part of the aging process?

Recently I heard a song that was popular when I was young. I don’t know all the words to the song, so I’m not talking about the meaning of the song necessarily, but there was a line in the song that resonated with me. The song lyric has become more than a catchy tune…it’s proven to have some insight into my life. I’m sure this is true of many secular songs.

Here are three that quickly come to mind:

You can’t always get what you want – Should have listened to the Rolling Stones when I had a chance I guess, but I’m learning that life doesn’t always turn out as expected. This makes lining my heart’s desires up with God’s desires more important, because His desires win!

Your cheating heart will tell on you How many times have I asked a guy, “Are you telling your wife the whole truth?”, because I know that eventually, the truth will come out. It always does and it is always received worse when it isn’t voluntarily confessed.”

Every rose has its thorns If it looks to good to be true, it probably is…the only exception I’ve learned is grace…

Can you think of any other secular songs whose lyrics have proven true in your life?