Chili Cook-Off at Austin Peay!

chili
We are so excited to have officially launched our college ministry to Austin Peay State University.

This football season we have been able to participate in tailgate alley. In an attempt to get others involved, we have a fun event coming up at our tent.

We are challenging you to a Chili Cook-off.

Do you have what it takes?

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, October 24 – APSU vs EKU
Time: 4pm (chili should get there by 3:30)

Location: Parking lot in tailgate alley, between the Dunn center and the football stadium. Look for our black tent that has a red Grace Community Church sign

How to enter: Email HERE.

Voting happens the day of the event.  (I don’t know the judges, but for donations to my favorite charity I will see if I can swing votes. JUST KIDDING!)

This is a great opportunity to see college ministry in action and invest in college students at Austin Peay.  Come join the fun.

Do you have any other ideas of things we can do for our college students?

Stop Avoiding Your Past!

girl pastAre you avoiding your story? Do you often wish you could escape the past?

One famous Bible character never seemed to escape her story.

I have always found it interesting that Rahab continued to be known as a harlot…a prostitute…a hooker… (Sorry for the crude word, but that probably best captures how she must have been viewed at one point in her life.)

In Hebrews 11, the so-called faith chapter, where God chronicles the examples of superior faith, Rahab is still referred to as “Rahab the prostitute”. (Hebrews 11:31) She apparently never fully escaped the title or the memory of her past.

Perhaps the memory of your past gone wrong…all the painful mistakes, the tragedies, the hurts, the failures… remain for a greater purpose…

  • To remind you of who He is and what He has done in your life…
  • To remind you to help others that struggle…
  • To keep you humble or from becoming conceited…

Instead of trying to run from your past, perhaps you should embrace the changes God has brought in your life through that past and the forgiveness He has provided and allow God to use the memory of your sorrow for His glory.

How are you allowing God to use your mistakes, tragedies, heartache and sorrow for a greater good?

If you need some tips on recovering from your past, read this post HERE.

Thoughts on the Local Church, by Nate Edmondson

nate+closeupI love that Nate is finally blogging again (I hope this is the start of a trend).  He’s my son, so I am biased, but I really believe he’s got a lot of great thoughts to share.  He’s always been a thinker.  He is beginning to experience what I have experienced as a church planter, planting a church that does things differently than the traditional church.  Since both my boys have lived ministry with me through two church plants, they have adopted the principles of church planting as their paradigm for church structure.  Unfortunately, change doesn’t come easily for most church leaders, and so just as I have experienced opposition, Nate is now experiencing some of that at his Christian college.  It’s a great learning and faith testing process for him.

Here’s some of his thoughts on the local church:

One question I’ve been wrestling with since I’ve been at Moody is what the local church in America should look like. Since being here I’ve received some opposition towards the way Grace does church in Clarksville. I’ve gotten lots of questions like: Do small groups provide accurate means for discipleship? Is the governmental structure too corporate, and as a result too secular? Do topical messages truly teach the Bible? Should the environments be tailored for believers or non-believers?

Honestly this has made me question a lot of the ministry principles I’ve learned the last few years.

To read the rest, go to this blog post click  HERE.

What do you think about Nate’s thoughts?

Number One In Customer Service!

iStock_000002640898XSmallAs a former business owner, I recognize and appreciate good customer service.  On our recent vacation to the Southwest, being free from the normal distractions of work, I was even more in tune with the good and bad of customer service we received.  Perhaps it was because I was looking more closely than normal, but I honestly believe we saw extremes.

One positive extreme was the customer service treatment we received during our Enterprise car rental experience at the Albuquerque International airport.  From check-in to the exit gate, we received exceptional service.  When we returned the car to the airport, we had an equally positive experience. The employee that waited on us actually remembered us from when we picked the car up over a week earlier and pleasantly asked specific questions about our trip.  Overall the staff was extremely quick and painless, but extremely efficient, and very friendly, yet highly professional.

I like to pass along compliments, so I said; “This is probably the best customer service I’ve ever received during a rental car process.”

He proudly responded with a quick smile, “Our agency was number one in customer service last year in the whole country!Then he went onto say, “We have a reputation to live up to now.”

It made me wonder this question:

If you had to compare yourself or your team to others in customer service, efficiency or excellence how are you doing? What reputation have you created?

I certainly plan to consider that question to the customer service visitors receive at Grace Community Church

(As I was writing this post I discovered a great similar thought process in Brad Lomenick’s post 5 Points On Great Customer Service.)

For some of my own thoughts on how to accomplish excellence in service, check out THIS POST and the category Innovation.

Rejuvenating A Vision (Inspiration from Jerome, AZ)

DSCF9701I was inspired while visiting the small town of Jerome, Arizona on our recent vacation to the Southwest. While Cheryl enjoyed some local shopping, I enjoyed perusing the streets discovering nuggets of the city’s rich history. Jerome began as a mining town. People came hoping to get rich off the minerals in the area, especially copper. When the mines dried up, the city nearly died. Jerome’s population went from a height of 15,000 in 1920’s to 50 people in the late 1950’s.

What inspired me is what happened next in the town’s history. The remaining residents sought new life for their city. The town attracted artists to move to the city who found a haven to display their work cheaply. Over a couple decades, Jerome became known as a place to find great local art. Today Jerome is thriving with local artists and the streets are full of people wanting to view and buy their work. We were referred to Jerome by our hotel concierge in Sedona (Read her story HERE), who told us it was almost a “hippy” town from the 60’s and 70’s. She was right, but the newly created atmosphere has proven successful. One local artist told me they really have no slow season. It’s a favorite place to visit year round.

We were stopped along one of the streets by an older lady who asked us if we had any questions. She said she was a long-term resident and knew much about the town’s history. It was obvious she was proud of her city.

So the bottom line; lesson learned for me:

Jerome was once a mining town.
Now its a tourist town
But it’s still a town proud of its history, where people love to live, where families are raised, and where people enjoy life together.

In order to continue to survive and thrive as a city, changes had to be made in some of its structure and direct focus. The city had to reclaim the vision to be a city.

I believe there are churches and other organizations that could learn valuable principles from Jerome, Arizona.

Do you know of an organization that has rejuvenated itself or renewed a vision in order to thrive in a different environment or culture?

Do You Enjoy What You Do For A Living?

DSCF9693DSCF9694Martha Edwards loves her job.  Martha is a funologist. That’s her title.

Martha was our concierge at the Sedona Real Inn and Suites in Sedona, Arizona during our recent vacation. She helped us pick a restaurant and gave us some quick travel tips, in between helping dozens of other people in person and on the phone, all within thirty minutes before her quitting time for the day.  It was obvious it had been a busy day, she was surely tired, but you couldn’t tell it from her disposition.   Everyone she helped received the same excellent service.

I am confident Martha is a competent, skilled, and efficient concierge, with a great natural bubbly personality.  She is a true professional in the hospitality industry, but I do not believe that is what makes her so good at what she does.  I really think her greatest asset is that she obviously loves what she does for a living.  She enjoys her work.

Do you?

I love the staff at Grace Community Church.  The truth is we are not always the most efficient group of people.  Sometimes we miss deadlines, forget schedules, miss opportunities, and probably even waste valuable time just goofing around, and honestly, that bothers me if I allow it to, because I’m wired for efficiency.  (Even though I’m sometimes the chief goof-ball.)  Unfortunately, there are times that I have to be the bad guy and call us to task; partly because of my wiring and partly because of my position in the organization, but the plain truth is that in the four years of our existence as a church, we have been very successful working together.

Watching Martha enjoy her work so much helped me understand one reason our staff is successful.  WE ENJOY WHAT WE DO…and we have fun doing it!  We actually like the people we work with (most days).  I cannot help, but think that plays a large part in our success as an organization.  Obviously I cannot and would not dismiss the God-thing that has taken place among us, but I think one of those God-things He has done was bringing the people together He has as a staff.

Again, do you enjoy what you do?  Do you like the people with whom you work?  If not, should a change be in your future?

(Okay, I know that’s a tough and perhaps tender question for some of you, but why not start finding and making hard decisions to improve the situation?)

Accomplish Things You Never Dreamed Possible

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NIV

Imaginary dialogue between a husband and a wife:

“Honey, let’s get that box out of the attic.”

“What box?”

“You know we packed up that list of dreams we never could accomplish and all the things we’ve tried at and failed…”

“What do you want to do that for? Aren’t you tired of failing?”

“Sure I am, but look at this verse I just found. Here, read it.”

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’ That’s pretty neat. So if we can’t do it, then He can.”

“Right, that’s what I thought. All those things we have tried before, but have never been able to get done on our own, and those things we were afraid to try…still have a possibility with God.”

“Because God is able to do what we cannot. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We must decrease so that He can increase. He can overcome the struggles of our life, when we place our trust in Him.”

“That’s right…Go ahead. Preach Sister.”

“Okay, God is at His best when we come to the place in our journey where we recognize that we can do nothing without Him. He is ready to assist us when we will give Him the glory. When we give Him our tired, worn out selves, and humble before His mighty throne, He will wrap us with His tender, yet powerful arms and carry us beyond the limits of our imagination.”

“Exactly, I couldn’t have said it any better.”

“Alright then, now we’re getting somewhere. Help me get down that list.”

Could you make a list of dreams, or things you’ve tried at and failed at before? What has been impossible for you?

Go ahead and make the list, then give it to God.   (For further clarification, you may want to read this POST or this POST)

Preaching to the Preacher (I Was Encouraged Today)

DSCF8439Sometimes I need to get away from the usual crowds, take over my pastor hat, and sit in the audience and glean. Today was one of those days and I am thankful for the blessing.

Cheryl and I are on vacation in the Southwest. First stop was Albuquerque, NM for the annual balloon festival. We spent Saturday looking at hundreds of beautiful hot air balloons and returned this morning for another look. We left in time to catch the middle service of a great church, Sagebrush Community Church. Pastor Todd Cook was ending a series called “Heart” and shared a message that encouraged us to be encouragers. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have to be honest. When I first sat and looked at the program for the day and saw that the speaker was going to talk about encouragement, I wasn’t too excited. I’m a strategy guy, not a touchy feely guy. I like purpose, drive, and conviction. I wouldn’t be the first person one would think of when it came to the topic of encouragement. (In my family that would be Cheryl or Jeremy.)

As I sat and listened to Todd, who is a gifted speaker and storyteller, I was personally convicted. You see, I’ve been so busy with my strategy and purpose-driven, stress-filled life lately, that I am afraid I have often forgotten my first calling. I am a pastor. I am to help people move from death to life, from heartache and despair to trust and obedience. That process often doesn’t begin with a strategy. It begins when one person befriends another person, invests in them, and ENCOURAGES him or her to walk in a new way. Lately I am not sure that has been as much of my focus as leading and managing a church. I received “encouragement” today to take a fresh look at how I approach my days.

I am not saying I am giving up my strategy. I am not wired that way and frankly God uses me in that setting. I will never be a Barnabas. I will never be as considerate and caring as my wife. She balances me that way, but I do need to slow down more. I do need to take more time with the smallest needs. I need to be more people-centered. After all, that is the ultimate purpose of my calling.

Thanks Todd for encouraging me today to be a better encourager. God used you greatly in this season of my life.

(By the way, I met Todd after the service, and even though he is pastor of a large church and preaches 5 services each weekend, he treated me so warmly. He certainly did not make me feel I was an interruption. In this too, he gave me a wonderful reminder and encouragement.  You can here his message from today HERE.)

Grace Community Church Staff Blog Love

theGbwIn four years God has assembled an incredible team of staff people at Grace Community Church.  I am privileged to work with people I truly enjoy being around (most days)!  I love these people.  Some of them have some great blogs and I thought I would share them with you.

Click on the name to take you to their blog:  (I listed them I alphabetical order as they appear on the Grace website.)

Michael Bayne

Christy Crosby

Karen Grizzard

Rog Hill

Ben Reed

Brandon Reed

Chad Rowland

Katrina Watts

I am hoping this post will put some pressure on those who don’t currently blog…)

From Pastor To Dad (Reflections on A Day)

Today my role very quickly switched from pastor to dad. I was in a meeting preparing for a potential new ministry our church is considering. We were talking about the future, with big dreams of ministry and new ways of helping people. I love thinking Kingdom-building strategy.

I received a call that went straight to my voice mail. In consideration of those I was meeting with, I decided not to be interrupted. Then there was another call; then a text; then another. I decided I needed to figure out what was the urgency. Sadly, the news was tragic. One of my son Nate’s childhood friends had been killed in an auto accident this morning. The girl’s mother was one of Nate’s favorite teachers.

Nate and his friend Kathleen had been together since kindergarten. They were like brother and sister. They had remained in touch over the last month, both attending school away from home, and even talked within the last day or two. At the point when I got the message, my only concern was getting to Nate before he heard the news in passing. At that point, I was no longer a pastor in a meeting. I was a dad hurrying to comfort a son. Nothing else seemed to matter much the rest of the day.

It’s so hard to make sense of death and tragedy. There are more questions than answers tonight in so many minds. The phrase I heard continually today from Nate and others was, “I can’t wrap my mind around this.” There are no words to say. Eighteen is not supposed to be the age of death. I do know one thing, however. The truth of God’s Word is not altered, even after the tragic news of the day. God truly is close to the broken-hearted.

Nate and a large group of friends from his class were extremely close, but recently scattered to many different colleges. They will be home this weekend, for a very sad occasion, and, in many ways, it will be a reunion. Their coming together will honor their friendship, but also be a tribute to the memory of a good friend, who tragically left this earth too soon.

Please join me in praying for this family and the friends who mourn.