Grace Community Church Core Values

The mission of Grace Community Church is short.

GCC exists to encourage growing followers of Jesus Christ.

We believe it’s easy to understand, but it’s obviously somewhat subjective. Our staff has been working over the last few months to add some clarity to what we mean by “growing followers of Jesus Christ”. In an all day staff retreat recently, we decided on ten attributes of a growing follower of Jesus.

We call them our core values and we will be sharing them with our church in the coming weeks. These will become principles to guide how we encourage discipleship at every level of ministry.

Our core values:

A growing follower of Jesus values…

GATHERING: consistently gathering with the Church to celebrate Jesus and encounter Biblical teaching. (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:25)

COMMUNITY: building authentic relationships of encouragement and accountability with other followers of Jesus. (Acts 2:44, 1 Corinthians 12:12)

SERVING: developing a servant’s heart that looks to always meet the needs of others. (Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 4:10)

PRAYER: maintaining a continuous conversation with God. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16)

GOD’S WORD: spending consistent time reading the Bible and applying its Truth. (Acts 2:42, 2 Timothy 3:16)

SHARING THEIR STORY: creating conversations about what God has done and is doing in his/her life. (Acts 1:8, 1 Peter 3:15)

WISDOM: seeking God’s will in all decisions. (Proverbs 8:11, James 1:5)

GENEROSITY: developing a growing generosity with resources and finances. (Proverbs 3:9, 2 Corinthians 9:7)

INTEGRITY: striving to develop a reputation that honors God. (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 4:1-3)

INFLUENCE: maximizing influence to point others to Jesus. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 1 Peter 3:16)

Does your church have something such as this to help shape programs, ministry and teaching?

The Believer’s Response to Grief

Today was a special day of remembrance. You may want to read THIS POST and watch the 5 minute video associated with before viewing this message.

In our series called FREE we talked about living the freedom Christ intends for us to have, in spite of the death, pain, failure, loss and disappointments that come our way…mostly beyond our control. How as a believer are we to grieve? If you’re struggling with a significant loss, I hope this message gives you comfort:

Breaking free from the pain of death or loss from Gcomchurch Sermons on Vimeo.

If you choose to listen to this message, you may do so HERE:

They Went Home…

Then the disciples went back to their homes. John 20:10

The disciples had gone to the empty tomb. They saw where the body of Jesus had been laid. He was not there. He had risen, yet the Scripture said at this point they still did not understand what had happened. (vs. 9) They left the greatest miracle of eternity…returned to their homes…but didn’t yet understand.

The disciples didn’t get it…even though they had walked with Jesus several years and this was carried out just as Jesus had prepared them…they couldn’t grasp the complete story.

It made me wonder…

Should we be surprised when people come to our church…we share the simple Gospel….yet they leave still failing to understand?

What do you think?

Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

Suicide sucks!

I realize this is a heavy issue for this blog, but seriously…I have had to sit with people several times after a loved one committed suicide. A clouded or confused mind may see suicide as the only way out, although it is never the right option, but it is never easy reconcile for the people left behind. I believe one of my dearest pastor friends died of a broken heart after his son committed suicide. Sadly, suicide appears to be on the rise. Our local paper reported this week (see article HERE) that our state has been awarded $1.4 million to aid in suicide prevention.

Suicide sucks!

This post is not aimed for those who have ever considered suicide…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

This post is for those who are victims of knowing someone who has taken his or her life…

One of the things I hear after a suicide breaks my heart. Families are often left wondering what happened to their loved one. Well-meaning people often repeat something they’ve heard before…that friends and family members who commit suicide are destined to be separated from Jesus the rest of their lives. They assume that suicide is the unforgivable sin. I’ve encountered people who struggle for years with the thoughts that their loved one died apart from Jesus. The only problem with that assumption is that I can’t prove it in the Bible.

Yes, suicide is a sin.

Murder is a sin…taking a life is a sin…suicide is a sin…

Please don’t resort to that…There is always a better way…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

But, suicide is NOT the unforgivable sin.

The grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient even for this sin…

I’m fully convinced there will be brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Heaven, who were experiencing terrible trials…who felt trapped or helpless…who made a bad decision…who took their life…but fully believed that Jesus was the only answer for salvation.

Jesus describes the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:22-32. It says nothing about suicide.

I know this is a delicate issue. You might read THIS POST or THIS POST I found which addresses this issue in better detail.

I’m praying for those struggling with this issue as I post this…

Scripture Memorization, Week 33 (And a video)

This week, I want to encourage you to do something special with the memory verse. Write it on an index card or something similar. Place it where you will see it every morning…perhaps like a mirror where you get ready. Read it a few times everyday. Then pray it as a prayer.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:5

See how it shapes your attitude each day this week.

As an added bonus, watch this video and sing it in the form of a song:

My Top 5 Corporate Worship Experiences

This is a hard post to write, because I typically don’t do “favorites”, but I’ve thought a lot recently about worship. That always floods my mind with memories of corporate worship highlights in my life…or favorite worship moments. I have had many. To me, worship is when God fills me with Himself. It’s when God has all of me and all I want is all of Him. That doesn’t have to happen in a church service…and often doesn’t for me…which is why I titled this “top 5 corporate worship moments“. I do believe, however, that there is something special about worshiping with other like-minded believers. (In fact, I would contend we are commanded to do so regularly.)

Of course, any time of worship is an incredible time. The fact that a holy God would choose to allow me into His presence should bring me to my knees constantly in worship. Honestly, however, there are times I’m just going through the motions of “worship”.

Here are my top 5 corporate worship experiences:

Los Angeles – It had been a long week at a business conference, and truthfully a very non-spiritual week. I was so busy that all week I read one chapter…Psalm 150. As is our custom, we went looking for a church on Sunday morning. I thought I had found a California mega-church online, but, after getting lost several times and nearly missing the service, we arrived to find out it was a very small church. There were less than 100 people and we were very obvious visitors. We decided to visit in spite of my introversion and on the marquis, permanently inscribed was a single verse: Let everything that have breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6. It turned out to be one of the most meaningful times of worship in my life.

Brooklyn Tabernacle Church – Cheryl and I were there for a Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir experience. I had heard people talk about this, and usually if I’m anticipating something it isn’t as likely to happen for me, but it did. I felt God’s presence like never before. I can still capture the memories of that moment today.

Brazil – I was about to speak via a translator for the very first time. Prior to stepping on stage, we were led in almost an hour-long time of worship, although it seemed like only a few minutes. Hearing Portuguese and English together proclaiming the goodness of the same God humbled me to tears.

Promise Keepers – I went to many Promise Keepers events, and they were all good, but on this particular occasion my boys went with me. They were probably both pre-teens at the time and at this conference, not only did I worship, but I got to witness, for the first time, my two boys worship. It was indescribable!

Passion Conference – I had gone with our college team, but for this session I slipped away by myself. I was alone in a crowded room…if you’ve ever been there. I knew no one around me and for 30 minutes, I gave God everything in my heart. I’ll never forget the jubilation. (I don’t get to use that word very much…but it seems appropriate here!)

Some may wonder, why didn’t you name your own church? Well, that’s a great question. I’m a very strategic-minded person, so on Sundays, to be candid, it’s more work that it is worship. Still, I’ve had some amazing times of worship at our church…especially backstage, which is why it didn’t make the list here.

I’d love to hear from you.

Tell me one (or 5) of your top worship moments.

Developing a Discipleship Culture

Last year at Catalyst Conference, I attended a breakout with 3DM, a ministry which helps pastors and churches think about the importance and future of discipleship. I had participated in a pilot coaching program Catalyst was conducting and this breakout talked about some of that experience.

The one thing which impacted me most was a slide that was shown. I don’t have a copy of it. I captured one with my phone, but it’s quality is not good enough to share here and I can’t seem to find another, so I recreated the concept in the picture here. (I know what you’re thinking…I’m an artist…right? :) ) Anyway, this one paradigm shaper has impacted my teaching and church leadership as much as anything in recent years.

You can see the diagram, but in case it isn’t clear, here are some explanations:

Invitation - This refers to the atmosphere and degree of welcoming a church or an individual message provides. Do people enjoy being there? Do they want to come back? Is it inviting? Is a message fun to listen to? Is it encouraging and helpful?

Challenge - This refers to the degree others are encouraged to grow in their walk with Christ. Are they challenged? Are they held accountable? Are personal disciplines encouraged? Are sins exposed? Are expectations strong?

The theory is that churches tend to fall into one of these four quadrants:

  • Low Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discouraged/burnout culture.
  • Low Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a bored culture.
  • High Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a cozy/chaplaincy culture.
  • High Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discipling culture.

I wouldn’t attempt to put churches in one of these categories, but I could. I know some of each of these. Chances are you do too.

If you put Jesus, the master disciple-maker in this diagram, we find He was both high invitation…people loved to be around Him…they were attracted to Him…yet He continually challenged them. He confronted them where their life needed to change.

That’s the kind of church I want to be. Those are the kind of messages I want to deliver each time I speak. To be a discipling church, we must find ways to be high invitation and high challenge.

Have you seen each of these type churches?

In my NEXT POST, I’ll share one way this has altered my Sunday teaching and the way I evaluate a message.