Saturday, June 28, 2008

One Thousand

I reconnected with an old friend earlier this week. He was a member of the first small group I led at LSU. During those early years of small group leading, I immediately identified him as a potential leader, but he told me he would never, under any circumstances, lead a small group.

But God had other plans in mind.

He became a leader, and before long, he became a leader of leaders. This week, he told me he had recently had a party to celebrate the fact that he was now leading 1,000 young men- junior high kids, high school students, and college students- in small group ministry. One thousand kids in small group ministry under his leadership. That's amazing! I'd love to consider them my spiritual grandkids. But honestly, I didn't have anything to do with it. Julius didn't even have anything to do with it. It's the miracle of God that happens when we dare to invest in one life at a time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NCC Protege Program

I'm super pumped to announce the NCC Protege Program! Like most good things we do around here, we stole it from someone else. In this case, Mosaic Church in LA. Those guys are raising up and unleashing young leaders left and right. Here's some information on our program:

The Protégé Program is a year-long intensive spiritual growth, leadership development, and ministry immersion experience at National Community Church. As an NCC Protégé, you will be given the opportunity to learn from some of the most innovative thinkers and creators in ministry, participate in the day to day activities of church staff culture, stretch yourself as a leader, and lay a firm foundation for a life-long pursuit of the passion and vision that God has placed on your life.

NCC Proteges will choose one ministry area— discipleship, media, missions/outreach, children/youth, worship or church planter in residence—in which they will specifically focus their ministry efforts during the year and for which they will receive special training.

NCC Proteges will gain experience in the following areas:
  • Attend Learning Labs- make new discoveries in leadership development, spiritual growth, and ministry methods from members of the NCC teaching team.
  • Develop a Spiritual Growth Plan
  • Develop a Leadership Development Plan
  • Serve on the Alpha Team
  • Lead small groups and ministries
  • Participate in an NCC missions experience
  • Serve at weekend worship gatherings, outreach projects and leadership development events
  • Build community with fellow members of your Protégé class through weekly study, prayer, and reflection groups
  • Be mentored by your ministry-focus department leader
  • Attend leadership development conferences with the NCC team
The Protégé Program is a training and proving ground for emerging church leaders. During your Protégé year, you will accumulate valuable experience, mentors, and knowledge that will prepare you for stepping into the next phase of your God-given calling.

If you would like more information on becoming an NCC Protégé, check out our FAQ or send an email to Heather Zempel (that's me).

We'll be getting some FAQs up in a few days that will address the all important questions of what it will cost (nothing, but you will need to work a second job or raise support to cover living expenses for the year), when does it start and stop (September 2008- July 2009), etc.

In the meantime, I'm looking for one good discipleship protege. Any takers?

Fireside Chat: Final Thoughts

I think it's safe to say that I'll be unpacking the Fireside Chat with the Fathers of the Faith event for a long time. Maybe even my whole life.

Some of the things that really stuck out to me were the humility of these men and their strong affirmation of one another.

I was encouraged by their enthusiasm for my generation.

I was challenged to spend more time putting down roots than looking for my ministry fruit at this point in my life-- it's more important now to build character, invest in relationships, and learn the ways of God than to hit the speakers circuit, write books, and count how many small groups I lead.

I desire the relationship with Jesus that these men have.

I feel a new weight of responsibility when it comes to how I prepare to preach-- but it's not a weight of burden, it's a weight of freedom. Not sure how that works, but I guess it has something to do with what Jesus said about his yoke being easy.

I feel more strongly than ever that the best investments we can make are in people.

I recognize that what I need more than anything is a fresh vision and revelation of Christ. Not a vision or revelation from him...but a fresh vision and revelation of him.

Lionshare Leadership Group will be turning the event into a DVD small group curriculum. I'd encourage you to consider leading a group through it at your church. Great way to do some distance mentoring.

Here are links to all of the Fireside Chat posts:

Fireside Chat with Fathers of the Faith

Hospitality at the Cove
Monday Night Sessions
Audience Reflections
Winkie Pratney on Chemistry
Tuesday Morning Session
One Hour for One Minute
What's On Your Bucket List?
Tuesday Night Session
Good Stuff From Ogilvie
Winkie Pratney Session
Dave Buehring Session

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fireside Chat: Dave Buehring

Dave Buehring closed the Fireside Chat with the Fathers of the Faith Event with a blueprint for moving ahead. He identified 12 different Domains of culture in which we need to expand the Kingdom of God, including:
  • Family- social services, adoption, family-life counseling, etc.
  • Church and Missions
  • Government and Law
  • Education and Students
  • Media- electronic, print
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Sports
  • Business and Commerce
  • Science and Technology
  • Environment and Agriculture
  • Health and Medicine
  • Military and Nation-Security
  • Non-profits and Service Organizations
There was so much good stuff packed into his presentation (complete with information-packed powerpoint slides) that it was hard to take comprehensive notes. Here are some nuggets and tough questions:
  • How much purposeful activity- with deliberateness and intentionally- am I investing in personally growing as a disciple of Jesus and making disciples with in my sphere of relationships and influence?
  • When we preach on Sunday morning, we get to address every sector of society- government, arts, entertainment, academia, etc. Don't just preach to them. Equip them.
  • When you commit to being a disciple-maker, you have to change your priorities.
  • Making disciples should be a reference point to everything else you do. When we get up in the morning, we should approach life with the awareness that our ultimate purpose is to make disciples.
  • When people come to Christ, we need to implant in them the multiplication chip. We have started a come and sit system. Instead of going and doing, we like sitting and listening. Let's turn people from sitters and listeners to goers and doers.
  • Teach, demonstrate, replicate.
  • The teacher has not taught until the student has learned. If they don't get it, don't complain about them. Pour your life into them until they get it.
  • We need to be like Barnabas- he was willing to let Paul pass him by. Be a leader who is willing to train up leaders better than you. Let people pass you by.
  • Who are you pouring your life into?
  • Where is God most changing me right now?
  • Glorifying God means enhancing God's reputation in the eyes of others.

Fireside Chat: Winkie Pratney

In Winkie's last session at the Fireside Chat, he encouraged us to be salt. He mentioned the following:
  • Salt purifies and retards corruption.
  • Salt penetrates. We must penetrate the culture.
  • Salt dehydrates. Iit makes people thirsty.
  • Salt stings. If you give yourself to the penetration of the culture, you have to be different.

His closing words were powerful: "I commend you to a scary life."

And speaking of scary, check this out. Winkie's 6 Mile video.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good Stuff From Ogilvie

I'm a huge fan of Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie. He was the chaplain of the U. S. Senate when I worked there as a policy advisor. I was always impressed by his passion for Jesus and his love for people. I saw him give the same level of attention to the lowest staffer and to the highest ranking Senator.

Here are some nuggets from Dr. Ogilvie's solo session this morning:
  • Everyone who is in Christ is in ministry.
  • Paul knew who he was, whose he was, and where he was going.
  • We are called to be reproductive reproducers. If you can't point to someone who is going to live eternally because of you, then your life is impudent and impotent. And if you can't point to someone who has been led to Christ by someone you led to Christ, then you are in danger of self-aggrandizement. Do you have spiritual grandchildren?
  • If we get our goal clear, then the grace is given. We want all the resources of God's love for ourselves, but God's grace is given for his goal- of changing lives. If you are not involved in changing lives, then the grace will not flow to you.
  • Prayer begins with God. We often think of prayer as getting God's attention. But prayer happens because God has gotten our attention.
  • Where are your children in the Lord? Where are your grandchildren in the Lord?
  • God has a poor memory when it comes to our failures.
  • Picture the faces of those you want to follow Christ. Then imagine them filled with the spirit of God.
  • If you pull back from sharing with people about Christ, you have a bad case of "deilia" (** deilia is the Greek word for "fear.")
  • There is a tremendous difference between talents and the gifts of the Spirit.

Fireside Chat: Tuesday Night Session

Robert Schuller and John Perkins had to leave after the morning session, so we lost their voices for the Tuesday evening session.

Before launching into the questions, here are some favorite ideas:
  • Churches will move as far and as fast as the church leadership lives.
  • Dare to become what you envision.
  • Model discipleship before you teach it.

Some of the questions addressed included the following:

What Biblically-tested ancient paths need to be rebuilt today?
  • Hayford- Prayer
  • Pratney- Rootlessness- the lack of a sense of history in today's church

What current issue in the church concerns you most?
  • Ogilvie- The local parish. Helping pastors have some kind of equipping for the renewal of the church. There are 4 questions that need to be asked- 1) what kind of people do we want to put people into the world? 2) what kind of church makes possible that kind of laity? 3) what kind of church officers live in miniature what the church should be? 4) What kind of pastor is necessary to equip that kind of laity? The mission of the church is 4-fold- worshiping, healing, equipping, and deployment for mission- all four of these should be present in the local church.
  • Hayford- You cannot recreate the church. You can find awakening and advancing, but where you land must be in a place where you are not abandoning the ancient paths.

In Toronto, Pensacola, Lakeland, we have seen potential revivals. There are people who criticize them and people who embrace them. What would say about how you tend a movement of God and come to an understanding of what is the Lord and what is not?
  • Pratney- When a new work starts, it's difficult to see clearly if it's God, work of man, or the demonic. Usually it's a mix. It's good to not judge a new work until the rain has fallen for a while. We must stay within the guardrails of Scripture. Otherwise, the focus can move from Jesus to idolatry of revival.
  • Cunningham- In leadership, you need to have the ways of God before the acts of God.
  • Hayford- Don't kick it, just wait and see if it lasts. If a revival gets polluted, it doesn't mean there weren't realities of heaven in it.
  • Ogilvie- Instead of reproducing what is happening at another place under another leader, every pastor needs to focus on where God has placed them uniquely and the move of God that needs to happen there.

How do we restore discipleship in the church?
  • Ogilvie- The church must become the seminary for the laity.
  • Hayford- Information must bring to incarnation and transformation. We must disciple pastors to disciple.
  • Cunningham- disciple people to reach both geographical and categorical neighbors. Encourage a viral, spiritual multiplication of everyone becoming a discipler.
  • Pratney- We must give people a vision of Christ.

Discipleship definition by Hayford: teaching (information), instruction (application of information), and training (activation of information).

What fruit of the spirit have you found flowing through your life that has most affected your children for the Kingdom? (** none of these men actually came out and answered. All of them qualified it by saying it is what they strive for or what they hope to become)
  • Ogilvie- Faithfulness
  • Hayford- Goodness
  • Cunningham- Love
  • Pratney- Meekness/gentleness

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's On Your Bucket List?

The fathers were asked what was on their "bucketlist."

Ogilvie: Spend more time with the family. Raise up a generation of passionate preachers.

Hayford: Discipleship. Worship. Lead an non-denominational denomination.

Pratney: Invest in friendships because the Kingdom of God is built on friendships.

Cunningham: Retire and travel. (Insert lots of laughter-- Loren Cunningham has been to every nation of the world and just returned from Antarctica. He mentioned he's now "bipolar). Okay, the serious item on the list- get a Bible into the home of every person who wants it.

One Hour for One Minute

Lloyd Ogilvie challenged preachers to spend one hour in study for every one minute in the pulpit. Jack Hayford was relieved to know that time in prayer could count towards that. :)

Fireside Chat: Tuesday Morning Session

My biggest take-aways from the morning sessions:
  • Jesus said he will build his church. He will do it.
  • Wait on God.
  • Value people.
  • Don't turn creativity into an idol.
  • Information can come to us online, but wisdom is only imparted through community.

Questions that were covered in this first session this morning include the following.

What is the single-most attribute as a leader that you insist on carrying with you in the final leg of the journey?
  • Perkins- Confessing, understanding the forgiveness of sin, an forgiving others. When I preach, I don't depend on my words as much anymore but on the Spirit to do something through me that I can't do myself.
  • Schuller- Self-confidence, not built on yourself but on Christ- Philippians 1:6- I'm living by that, that God will complete it. I just show up for work.
  • Ogilvie- For communication, only what happens to you can be communicated through you. Administration, people can only support what they've shared in developing.
  • Hayford- Looking down the road to the end of the trail, I think the thing that increasingly governs me is dependency on the grace of God.
  • Cunningham- Ephesians 4- humility. Self-control. Both come by grace.
  • Pratney- it's not how you start the race but how you finish it that counts.

Describe a time when you found yourself threatened by someone else's leadership and giftings. How did you respond?

  • Perkins- the men who come up under me are typically more gifted than me, so I turn the ministry over to them. It helps us center on our own gifts and strengths. I was an initiator, not a manager.
  • Schuller- realizing that Jesus will build his church.
  • Ogilvie- the only way to deal with envy and jealousy is to take it to the Lord and thank him for the gifting in the other person and thanking God for the way he has used you.
  • Hayford- I was competing and comparing myself with another Bible teacher. It became an idol. There are things that will threaten you; many times that is something the adversary has constructed to destroy the image of Jesus in you.
  • Cunningham- i had to help some of our leaders start other organizations and I had to do it cheerfully. I wanted YWAM to be a bridge-- easy to get on, easy to get off-- not a cul-de-sac. In every major missions organization, there are former YWAMers. I didn't always pass the test.

Describe a time when you chose to intentionally manipulate or control someone or something instead of surrendering it to the Lord, and what were the consequences of that?
  • Perkins- there were people I gave up on too quickly. I wish I had been more patient with certain people. There's a difference between letting someone go, and freeing them.
  • Schuller- just trust God, "sheesh." shared about an incident as early as a week ago-- needing 1.3 million to make payroll; a woman left 1.4 million to his ministry in her will.
  • Ogilvie- when I get controlling, I hear the same thing that Jesus said to Lazarus: "Unbind him."
  • Hayford- early on, you wanted things to be right in the ministry. anytime something went wrong, there were times I would go back to the sound board and ask them what was going on. I wounded people by mandating perfectionism rather than creating a sense of partnership.
  • Cunningham- i had a staff member who had a problem publicly correcting people, and I pointed it out publicly. Public correction is a form of manipulation.
  • Pratney- the desire to have things "right" can sometimes overrule what is kind.

What do you believe to be the root in a leader who abuses authority, and how would you advise them?
  • Perkins- lack of a sense of one's calling. Deep in your soul, you've got to know what God has called you to.
  • Schuller- learn to wait. wait, wait, wait wait. some of my dreams of 43 years ago are coming true now.
  • Ogilvie- you have to earn the right to be heard. A lot of leaders misuse their authority because they have no accountability.
  • Hayford- No human being really has power. We have been delegated authority for us to steward. Abusive situations happen when people take power into their own hands as opposed to stewarding the authority they have been delegated. True leadership will always serve the interest of the people; manipulation will always serve the interest of the person leading. Sometimes, you have to lead assertively, and some may view that as manipulation. The motivation is important.
  • Cunningham- you don't discover your gift by searching but by serving.
  • Pratney- when people misuse power against you, try to serve them and bless them.

What was the biggest mistake you made as a leader and what did you learn?
  • Perkins- Burden for poor white people. I could have done more in the area of reconciliation if I had given more of myself to poor white people.
  • Schuller- God always turns the bad luck into good luck; it astonishes me. That Bible is the Word of God. My mistake is that I didn't have the strongest concept of the Scriptures because of my tradition. I had my theology but not the Scriptures. If I could start over, be more rooted in the Bible
  • Ogilvie- taking people for granted. iIve been overly impressed with the position and power of people and overlooked that inside their heart is an ache or problem that only God can meet.
  • Hayford- separation of sacred and secular. My call is not to succeed in ministry but help others succeed in theirs.
  • Cunningham- Once, in buying a hospital ship, we moved from faith to presumption which took us away from God's direction. And we took glory from God.
  • Pratney- people learn more from failure stories than success stories. Even a dumb kid doesn't kiss a hot stove twice. When I speak to people, I try to tell them how disqualified I am to be there. I apologize for having a name like a purple teletubby. Kids learn more from what we don't have than from what we do have.

What do you envy most about the opportunity this next generation have?
This question was presented to Pratney only. The digital flatland in which they live. Everything is connected. if something happens, within seconds, action can happen. Revival affects your neighbor, and the neighbors these kids have are not just geophysical. People can be instantly and globally touched by the presence of God.

What concerns you most about next generation?
  • Perkins- generation is missing is the importance of incarnation. They are dismissing the church. Thinking they can have it all without their history. They are missing the incarnated wisdom of God that can only come through action with the people. Information is communicated through the net. Wisdom is communicated through the touch of people.
  • Hayford- idolatry surrounding creativity- forgetting what has gone before and acting on the impulse of now. We need to encourage creativity but we need to be about redeeming, as well. It's always easier to create than it is to redeem.
  • Cunningham- Bible speaks to two sins more than any other- injustice and idolatry. The vertical is the most important communication line. If they are only horizontal in their digitalizing, they will miss the greatest creativity, justice, and thrill of worship.

Where are the biggest battlefields that lie in the way of advancing the Kingdom of God now?
  • Schuller- I don't feel qualified to answer that question. The older I get the more I realize the importance of humility. Focus on Jesus. Don't get distracted.
  • Ogilvie- we need to stop pretending we are the river of the power of God and focus more on being the riverbed.
  • Hayford- disunity, sense of superiority in the Body of Christ. Self-righteousness that brings separatism. The biggest battlefield is within the church itself.

Winkie Pratney on Chemistry

The best quote so far of the morning session:

"I wanted to be a chemist. You can make good money as a chemist, even when it's legal."

Fireside Chat: Audience Reflections

We kicked off this morning sharing "what we are hearing" from the audience perspective. I posted my reflections last night; here are some of the things the larger group shared:
  • Their prayer lives are not so much about scheduled time every day, but a lifetime of walking with him. It's not about a prayer pattern or schedule, it's about a relationship.
  • The importance of families and spouses in their lives.
  • We are hearing their secrets of finishing well.
  • Part of their finishing well is that they have no intention of finishing.
  • They are hesitant in giving answers. They wanted us to get their process and not just a program.
  • They don't have it figured out. They are passionately pursuing Christ, depending on him for the next step, the next breath, the next answer.
  • They don't have pat answers. They are not coming from a place of knowing it all. They lean into and respond to one another. They aren't sharing dogma. They are always learning.
  • We listened to them talk for a couple of hours, and they never interrupted one another.
  • They have a compulsion to love and bless people.
  • Despite the fact that they are so successful, they have an outward focus towards others. They don't live in isolation.
  • There is always a new facet of God for us to see.
  • It's not about a strategy; it's about following the command of Jesus to love.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fireside Chat: Monday Night Sessions

Honestly, I'm not sure how to sum up what I witnessed and experienced tonight. The wireless connection was very spotty in the training center, so I wasn't able to post live during the sessions, but I did take copious notes that will require hours of reading, re-reading, digesting, praying over, and thinking through.

Here are some general observations:
  • The six men at this event have three and a half centuries of combined leadership experience.
  • These guys have never stopped learning. I loved watching Winkie Pratney taking notes on things that John Perkins was saying.
  • These guys have a deep respect for one another and modeled for us what a culture of honor should look like. I love the community they share with one another.
  • They are innovators. Somehow, we think that the idea of doing innovative and creative things in the church is a new phenomenon. We think that we are the first generation of people in the R & D department in the Kingdom of God. But the six men at this event were doing ridiculously innovative stuff 50 years ago, and we are reaping the benefits of it today.
  • They don't have it figured out. I was amazed at the level of humility they expressed, the long pauses they took before answering questions, and the thoughtfulness they invested in their responses. It was interesting to watch Loren Cunningham "figuring out" a situation in his life as the conversation unfolded.
  • I love their sense of humor. They are hilarious! Robert Schuller is killing me!
  • Their walk with God is continuous. You can't measure their spiritual disciplines with a clock. They are constantly walking in prayer and in the word.

Here are some of the specific questions they were asked tonight:

What is your picture of Jesus?
Jack Hayford referenced the accessibility of Jesus- that women, strong men, and children all felt equally comfortable and welcomed in his presence. Perkins referenced Jesus on the Emmaus road and pointed out that he was fun to be around. Lloyd Ogilvie described God's friendship as meeting him in the valleys and rejoicing with him on the mountain tops of success.

What has been the single most important spiritual discipline, and how have you maintained it?
  • Perkins- agonizing in prayer and listening to God.
  • Ogilvie- accountability, "The Lord has never trusted me at any point in my life without an accountability group." Jack Hayford echoed these comments and mentioned that most of the resurrection appearances occurred when people were assembled together.
  • Hayford- instantly responding to the instruction or correction of the Holy Spirit.
  • Cunningham- committing to the discipline of love and letting obedience spring from love.

How do you tend your personal relationship with Christ?
  • Perkins- burning desire for the knowledge of the word of God. "I preach from the Psalms a lot because it revives me."
  • Schuller- praying constantly, ministering under a compulsion to bless people.
  • Ogilvie- making every moment a moment of prayer. He mentioned that he would get on his knees every time he went to his desk and ask God to be with him in his work. Every time he shook a person's hand, he would strive to realize that person as a gift from God. everytime i go to my desk i get down on my knees and ask God to help me.
  • Hayford- deal with each day as its own and walk as many steps as necessary towards God to feel his presence.
  • Cunningham- praying without ceasing and practicing the presence of Christ. "Your relationship with Jesus is more than something you can put on a schedule. Be aware of his presence."
  • Pratney- prayer, especially late and night and early in the morning when no one else is awake.

Has your spiritual growth ever hit a ceiling and what have you done to push past it?
The general consensus: you must get a fresh revelation from God. You must get a fresh look at his face. Several of them referenced the worship that is going on in heaven- the angels crying eternally "Holy, Holy Holy,"-- they are not getting bored with the image of God. When we hit a ceiling, we must look for him.

How have you kept your heart clean towards those who have wounded, disappointed, and betrayed you as a leader?
  • Hayford- "let's not start this before tea arrives...everything's set, we are waiting for the round of Big Macs." Hilarious. His immediate reaction is to "suspect his own righteousness." He begins at the place of asking God to examine him.
  • Perkins- he said he couldn't sleep until he initiated some sort of process to work it out with the person, and he asks forgiveness for his part in the issue. He mentioned the particularly difficult issue of dealing with criticism from within your own family.
  • Schuller-he threw out an interesting question about whether or not it was necessary to forgive a divisive person if there was no repentance. He also stressed the necessity for pastors to recognize that there is a real Satan who is trying hard to destroy the people of God.
  • Olgilvie- he outlined steps, including laying out his anger and ache before God, getting the perspective of trusted friends, shifting his perception, if necessary, and then turning the matter over to God. He said he had to learn those steps over and over again. I loved this quote: "We are so obsessed with our own image, status, success...anything that threatens that should probably be crucified anyway. When I'm upset, it's often because it might hurt my status or my career or my own well-being. Get to the place of surrendering so completely to Christ that it's seeking His glory and not your own. Then you will be free of being hurt."
  • Cunningham- give praise back to this who hurt you. I love how he talked about the unity of faith in Ephesians being a unity around Christ, not necessarily a unity of doctrine.
  • Pratney- honor people, even if they criticize you. He stressed that you will face criticism if you are doing something new or fresh for the kingdom of God.

How do you tend your families as leaders?
The answers focused on planning ahead, putting your spouse first, protecting time with your family strategically and intentionally.

Fireside Chat: Hospitality at the Cove

Wow, the hospitality at The Cove is unbelievable! I feel like I'm living in the middle of all that stuff I blogged about radical hospitality earlier this year on zonegathering. I'm assuming a lot of the folks serving us here are volunteers or serve in some kind of part-time capacity, but they do their jobs with so much energetic and aggressive welcome and love. It's awesome. Just little stuff-- like our table server June who brought dessert from the buffet line to our table when it was announced that dinner was closing and the session would begin in 5 minutes. This is a monastic environment, and I'm feeling so blessed by the staff. They've made me feel like they've been preparing for my arrival.

I wonder if people ever feel like that when they walk into our weekend gatherings. Does anyone ever feel like we've been preparing for them?

Fireside Chat with Fathers of the Faith

Dave Buehring's picture is probably posted in the dictionary under the word "pastor." He's one of the most encouraging, prayerful, and caring people I've ever met. I met him during my Nashville days at Belmont Church, but he didn't stop being a pastoral voice in my life after I moved to DC. For as long as I've known Dave, he's had a heart for connecting the generations so that the ways of God and leadership wisdom can be passed from one generation to the next. I'm so excited to see these dreams becoming reality, and I feel blessed to get to participate in it.

This weekend, I'm attending the Fireside Chat with Fathers of the Faith event at Billy Graham's training center at The Cove in Asheville, NC. This event is designed to get some of the fathers in the faith into the same room with emerging leaders and let the fathers download their wisdom and experience. Dave has assembled a rock star team of "fathers," including Jack Hayford, Lloyd Ogilvie, Winkie Pratney, Robert Schuller, Loren Cunningham, and John Perkins.

If I can connect to wireless, I'll be live-blogging from the event.

Monday on the Road

This morning began with a nice cup of chai at Fido- the coolest coffeehouse in Nashville-- almost as cool as Ebenezers in DC. :) I met with some awesome people from Lifeway's Threads. They published Mark Batterson's Chase the Lion small group curriculum last year, and we are exploring some new study ideas. While there, I ran into my old buddy Sarah (Nachtigal) Broweleit. She was one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville several years ago, and she now lives in Chicago. Crazy running into her.

After Fido, I jumped back onto I-40 for another day of driving. This time, I was back-tracking towards Asheville, NC and Billy Graham's training center at The Cove. I'm dragging some of my zone leaders with me for A Fireside Chat with the Fathers of the Faith event. This morning, I realized it has been a really long time since I've attended a retreat with no responsibilities. I think that last time was Inward Bound 20002. So I'm really happy to be here...with no job other than to eat, sleep, and soak in the wisdom of these fathers of the faith.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday in Nashville

What a great day! Obviously, I've decided not to unplug. At least not today. :) We started this morning with a dedication of Eowyn Ruth McClure at her church, Two Rivers Baptist. That's Pastor Jerry Sutton, proud parents Casey and Laura, and little Ruthie.

Then, almost equally important, my regular pilgrimage to Corky's BBQ. I love Corky's BBQ like Mark Batterson loves Lou Malnati's Chicago pizza. Look how happy I am!

This was my meal. Pulled pork stuffed baked potato. Oh my goodness. It was so good!

Once that cleared my plate, I returned home for a well-earned nap (it takes a lot of energy to eat that potato!). Then, Lindsey Appiah came over. Lindsey was an NCCer for 5.5 years, where she led small groups, led worship teams, went of missions trips, served the community, etc. So good to connect with her and hear about her new life in Nashville.

We made a run to Opryland Hotel to take in the botanical gardens and grab some Christie Cookies. I love Christie Cookies a lot, too. More than moonpies. Yes...more than moonpies.

Tonight, I ate wings and fried dill pickles with some good folks from The Peoples Church in Franklin. I met their small group pastor, Alan Pace, a few months ago at a gathering of small group fans at Willow Creek. We talked small groups, digital discipleship, and online church campuses.

I caught about 5 minutes of the Tony Awards. Can't wait to watch the whole thing when I get back to DC.

Here's the absolute best part of my weekend: hanging out with baby Ruthie!

Tomorrow, I'm back on the road towards Asheville, NC. I'll be live blogging from the Fireside Chat with the Fathers of the Faith event.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Heading South

I'm heading out of DC for a few days. First stop- Nashville, Tennessee. I'll be attending the dedication of my niece, Ruth McClure and hanging out with some friends.

Then, I'm heading to Asheville, NC for a conference at The Cove- Billy Graham's retreat center. I'm really looking forward to it.

I'll try to blog through my adventures, but I may also decide to unplug completely. I haven't totally decided yet. :) But I have given myself a Nashville scavenger hunt of sorts to participate in:
  • Eat Corky's BBQ
  • Get some Christie Cookies
  • Sip coffee at Fido
  • Stroll through the botanical gardens at Opryland Hotel (I can do that while eating those Christie Cookies)
  • Play with Baby Ruthie

I've only got about 40 hours in Nashville, so it will be a squeeze to get it all in. See you on the road!

Deliver Us From Me-Ville

I was running out of the office last night to spend some time with my family, when something in the front office mail bag grabbed the attention of the corner of my eye. A return address name of Zimmerman. Was it? Could it be? Already? Yes it was! My very own copy of the new book Deliver us From Me-Ville by my friend Dave Zimmerman. During the day, Dave is a mild-mannered editor for Intervarsity Press. By night, he leaps tall buildings in single bounds, flies at supersonic speed, and saves humanity from the villains (in his dreams...only...I think).

I had the privilege of reading a pre-edited version of the manuscript, and it was awesome. Great commentary on our contemporary individualistic culture and how that compares to the community that God created us to live in.

Go get your copy now. And while you're at it, check out his other book, Comic Book Character.

Community: The Final Apologetic

Here's the sermon from our semester kickoff a couple Sundays ago, Community: The Final Apologetic. I really felt like we needed to do a very simple, straightforward, back-to-the-basics "this is why community is important" message. I stole the title from Francis Schaeffer.

Here's the basic outline:

1. We were created by community. God exists as three persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and God is one. Bottom line- God exists in community.

2. We were created for community. In Genesis 2:18, God says, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.” In Theology for the Community of God, Stanley Grenz asserted, “each person can be related to the image of God only within the context of life in community with others. Only in fellowship with others can we show forth what God is like, for God is the community of love…”

3. Community was destroyed by our sin.

4. Community is restored by Christ. John 17:20: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of your testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”

5. The Kingdom of God is expanded by community. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NCC Discipleship Map

I've received a number of requests for copies of our Discipleship Map recently, so I thought I would post it again.

The Discipleship Map is our attempt at giving people a systematic way to chart a course for spiritual growth. We think of it as our version of the Saddleback baseball diamond, only it's not linear and it's not one-size-fits-all. Which makes it less intuitive and a bit confusing, but it also makes it more customizable and exciting to individuals. Or maybe that's just me. Honestly, I'm struggling with that tension right now. But until I emerge from the struggle with more clarity, it's what we've got.

It's built around our discipleship goal of helping people become life-long seekers of God, learners of his truth and ways, investors in his kingdom, and influencers of culture. We call those our 4 dimensions of discipleship. We created islands for each of those areas and developed small groups, retreats, and experiences that intentionally help people grow in those specific areas. We encourage people to start with Alpha, head to Journey (8-week small group introducing the four dimensions of discipleship), and then explore the 4 areas as they feel they need to grow. I like the fact that it is not linear, it is not one-size-fits-all, and there is no endpoint.

Here are previous posts related to the Discipleship Map:

What is Seeker, Learner, Influencer, Investor?

What is the Discipleship Map?

Core Discipleship Group Curriculum

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I'm a but MIA this week. Why? The family is in town. And most importantly, my little niece Ruthie is in town! It's been a whirlwind of activity for her. Space shuttles, Capitol tours, dinosaurs, monuments, lots of people! I'll post some pictures soon. Until then, my posting will be a bit sporadic.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Imaginative Evangelism

We started a new Thursday Leadership Lesson today on zonegathering: Imaginative Evangelism. I've been really convicted lately about the lack of "salt" and "light" I'm bringing to the world. I think began to slowly drift away from the whole intentional evangelistic thing for a while because the four spiritual laws and the two questions and the t-shirts and bumper stickers seemed to be lacking two things: relationship and power. Don't get me wrong, I think the laws and the questions and all those other things were very effective with certain people at certain times when used within the context of relationships and under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But I just started thinking that perhaps I needed to spend less time on trying to win arguments and more time on loving Jesus. That maybe I needed to spend less time on devising clever evangelistic strategies and more time on trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people around me.

Now, I'm coming back into a season of Romans 14:10, how will they know without a preacher? How do we communicate the Gospel in ways that are Biblical, compelling, and in the language of our hearers.

Some books that have really been helpful to me recently include the following:

Just Walk Across the Room
Reimagining Evangelism
Evangelism Outside the Box
They Like Jesus But Not the Church

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jumping into Theology

We're kicking off the Theology 101 group in about an hour. Really looking forward to it! We spend 8 weeks talking about 6 core doctrines of the Christian faith:
  • Doctrine of the Bible
  • Doctrine of God
  • Doctrine of Man
  • Doctrine of Christ and Salvation
  • Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Church
  • Doctrine of the Future
This semester, we will be using two books:

Who Needs Theology? by Stanley Grenz and and Across the Spectrum by Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy.


I got to see Julius Caesar at Shakespeare Theatre last week (thanks, G-friend). Really good. And interesting-- the most traditional treatment of Shakespeare I've seen in a really long time, maybe ever.

I totally forgot that one of my favorite lines comes from Julius Caesar. No, not the one about friends, Romans, and countrymen. This one:

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.