In our series “Hot Topics”, where our people were able to text in their greatest questions about God, the Bible, life, etc., one of the biggest areas of questions centered around the issue of the afterlife. Apparently people want to know what’s next….imagine that. There is a lot of fear associated with this topic, mostly because of the unknowns. In this message I tried to address some of the most repeated questions we received. (Unfortunately it makes you go to the Truthcasting site after 10 minutes.)
In the four years Grace Community Church has been a church we have received much praise from people that love what we do. Hundreds of lost, hurting people have chosen to unite with us. We have had some previously churched people join us who felt we were a better fit for them or their family, but mostly we have reached people who previously did not attend church. Most exciting to us is that we have baptized more adults than children in our four years, indicating to us that we are truly evangelizing and not just helping people swap churches. It has been a wild, exciting, thrilling time watching God shape us over these first few years.
Along with the praise, however, there have also been many false assumptions and even criticisms made about who we are as a church and who we are not, mostly from people who do church in a different way from us. It seems I hear a new wave of those each time we have a growth spurt, which we are currently in this fall. The fact is that we are not the church for everyone, but that has been hard for some people to understand.
Here are a few false assumptions that come to my mind about who we are or are not as a church:
- We get many offers to host an evangelist or hold a revival, but if you advertise your speaking ministry in a 3-piece suit, you are probably not a good fit for our church. For some churches that would work fine, but for our church it’s just not a good fit. Please don’t be offended by that.
- We frequently get request from other family or friends of people asking, “Can you send someone to visit _______?” We don’t knock on doors or do home visitation. It’s not that we don’t care, but it is simply not our method of recruitment. Again, for some churches this works great, but we are trying a different approach.
- We get many requests to book groups for special music venues, but if you sing Southern Gospel music exclusively, you are probably not a good fit for our church… I even love some Southern Gospel music, but it’s not the style we have chosen for our church.
- Yes, it’s true we don’t currently advertise unless it is to support a cause we believe it, but not for the purposes of increasing church attendance. We think that should happen as our people invite their friends and family…
- Yes, it’s true we allow people to serve in most volunteer positions without first passing a litmus test. We believe (and have seen) that serving can often help change a person’s life.
- We don’t have Sunday school, but we do teach the Bible. We do small group meetings in the homes…
- If the Bible makes an issue clear, we land on that clarity. If it is simply a matter of tradition, me may dismiss it if it gets in the way of our vision to reach people for Christ.
- With the previous said, we do have some traditions. We meet at the same time and place each week, for example, but everything traditional is subject to change. We actually like change if it helps us better complete our vision.
- We haven’t watered down the Gospel…
- We haven’t tried to alter the way to salvation… (It’s all Jesus for us too!)
- We aren’t trying to offend you…but if you are offended by how we do church, we are probably not the church for you….
- We don’t believe we are the only church in town where people can find truth…
- We are not the church for everyone, but we are a church…
- We aren’t like every other church. That in itself doesn’t make us better or worse…
…We just do church differently. Please do not be offended just because we are different. It takes all of us working together, even though we look different on Sunday mornings, to do the Kingdom work. Look at our people, see if they are becoming more like Christ, loving God and loving people more, and make assumptions based on those results.
The great news is that we are a church for many people. If you are not currently attending a church and maybe have had some false notions about church yourself, come give us a visit soon. You may be surprised how much fun we have! And, by the way, everything you hear about how friendly our church is, how much we love our community, and how welcoming we are to others….ALL TRUE!
Are there any false assumptions made about your church?
As we announced Sunday, Grace Community Church has purchased 58 acres of land on Dunlop Lane, just a couple miles from our current meeting location and down the road from our community’s new hospital. We are excited about the future. To answer some of the questions we did not have time to share Sunday, I wanted to share some details about this process.
Grace was only six months old when a member in our church heard about an incredible deal on 79 acres of land one day and called me on the phone immediately. (Interestingly, a member of another church in town called him about the land.) Within a few short days, after meeting and praying with numerous leaders in our church, we had purchased the property. That seemed at the time to be a wise investment. I still completely agree that it was.
In the next couple years several things happened that helped shape our plans for a future building location.
- The growth focus of our community shifted to another side of town.
- Our church outgrew the rented facility where we launched.
- Renting a school became an option. It had previously not been.
- We moved to the center of the largest growth area of our community.
- We began to reach people from a broader area of our county than previously targeted.
- We sold 20 unbuildable acres of our 79 acres.
- We paid off our existing property.
With those dynamics in place, the leadership of the church began to pray about what God would have us do in regards to property. Sensing we needed to explore other options near our current meeting location, we asked a small team of people in our church to search for available properties. When we discovered land available to us at an incredible price, considering the cost of land in the high-growth area, we decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and we initiated the purchase of a new 58-acre track of land. We also entertained offers on the remainder of our existing property and it appears we will sell it within a matter of weeks.
With this new purchase, several things need to be understood:
- The vision of the church has never changed. We want to produce “growing followers of Jesus Christ.”
- The passion for our community is even greater than when we started.
- The future is brighter than we could have imagined.
- We love and are investing in our community even more than ever before.
- Our focus remains on blessing the community as much as our church with our property and any building we ever build.
It is exciting to watch what God has planned for us. We continue to seek His will, knowing that we can only act upon what we know today. His plans for us continue to be bigger than we might have dreamed.
Has Grace Community Church made a difference in your life?
Do you marvel at the way God does things at times? Have you watched His plans be bigger than yours?
For other posts about Grace Community Church click HERE.
So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”
In case you ever get into a close game of Bible trivia, here’s a good question: Who was afraid so he or she pretended to be insane?
Do you give up? Do you want a hint? He liked sheep. He knew how to sing. His father’s name was Jesse. He was a man after God’s own heart. He killed Goliath.
That’s right…David. The verse above is 1 Samuel 21:13. After Jonathon told David that his father wanted to kill him, David fled for his life. While running from Saul, David hid out near the king of Gath, but not wanting to be recognized, he pretended to be insane. The king let him go.
Now, I really think there is more to this than just a good trivia stumper. I think the fact that David, the one who “killed the lion and the bear” could be afraid, means that I too will have times that I am afraid. The fact that the one who “approached Goliath” could become terrified means that surely times will shake my confidence. The reality that the one who was “anointed to be king”, could become so afraid that he would act like an idiot to avoid being found out, means that you and I, who may appear to be of lesser stature in our faith, should not be surprised when we have fear and doubts.
David was a man, just like you and I. At times, he just couldn’t muster up the faith to go on. At times life got the best of him. At times, he thought he couldn’t take another step. At times fear captivated him. Moreover, it was at those times that God came through for him once again.
In addition, He’ll do the same for you and me!
What’s making you afraid these days?
One of the most frequent “encouragements” I have heard from pastors to those that are sensing a call to full-time vocational ministry is:
Don’t do ministry if you can do anything else…
I have made it a practice never to give that advice to people seeking my counsel. That cliché sounds good, but I am not sure it is practical, helpful, or even completely true.
For years, I resisted a call to ministry, partly because of this advice. The simple fact was that I could do some things besides ministry. I had some success in business. In fact, at one point I was extremely successful in my field. In my own strength, I found I could do many things.
What I could never seem to do on my own was find contentment. Resisting God’s call on my life for vocational ministry took me down numerous career changes looking for that one thing I was “supposed” to do. It wasn’t until I surrendered to full-time vocational ministry that I discovered what I was “designed” to do. I never knew contentment in my work life until God was my employer.
My advice if you are truly called to ministry is to do ministry, even if you can do something else. Nothing provides peace and contentment in life like obedience to God’s call on your life. For more thoughts on the call to ministry, click HERE.
Are you running from a call upon your life? Are you resisting something God is calling you to do?
The contentment you are looking for in life may not be found until you obey.
I enjoyed meeting some of the people that I admire online this week at Cultivate Conference in Chicago. Names that appear bigger than life to me, because I enjoy their blogs and work so much, were up close and personal. I shook the hands of people like, Jon Acuff, Kem Meyer, Scott McClellan, Kent Shaffer, Tony Steward and Rhett Smith.
I think the humbling thing for me was the reminder that these are real people. I heard a couple of their stories. They have real stories too.
Sometimes I think we tend to forget that behind the bigger than life appearance a strong web presence gives someone are real people with real stories…and real problems and challenges to life.
That’s true for all of us…
That’s true for me….
The fact is that I blog a lot. (Some would say too much.) There may be the tendency to believe I know what I’m talking about sometimes….
…Sometimes I actually do…
…Many times its because I learned a lesson the hard way…
But with everyone that has an online presence, including in my case, it’s important to remember that the online presence may not be a complete picture of reality. We can seem to have it all together through our blogs…but behind the computer sits real people with real stories…and real problems and real challenges to life.
What’s your current problem or challenge? Do you clean it up well online?
We did a series called Hot Topic at Grace Community Church where people could text in their biggest questions about God, the Bible, life, etc. One repeated question was on discerning the will of God. You can watch that message here:
Can I be completely honest with you about something?
I don’t understand cancer. I hate it.
I know all about sin and how this world is corrupt and broken and how everything will one day be redeemed, but there is something mysterious and scary about cancer.
I have so many friends who have been affected. It’s rampant in my own family right now. I hate it.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Perhaps no other cancer has been so prevalent in our church. We have numerous breast cancer survivors at Grace Community Church. These women encourage me with their faith and resolve to not only fight the disease, but to make the world a better place in spite of their sickness. Some of the heroes of faith to me right now are these women.
This month our local Clarksville Family Magazine featured one such woman, Kelly Blevins. Kelly, and fellow Grace girl Lynne Woodson, have decided to use their experience with cancer to launch a local support group for other breast cancer patients. This type ministry fires me up, because it addresses real and practical needs. I want to be their biggest cheerleader!
Have you experienced the devastation of cancer in your life, either personally or with people you love?
Have you marveled at the faith of those with cancer?
Take some time today to pray for a cure, to pray for God’s comfort, and to pray for those families struggling with cancer.
Here is a quick pride test:
Think about the motivation behind what you are currently doing and consider which is most true:
It’s all about me…
It’s all about God or others…
Now, ask yourself these questions:
- Why is God blessing your efforts?
- Who should most get the credit?
- What if no one recognizes your efforts, would you still be glad you did as much as you did?
If you had to take a pride test, how would you do?
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?