Saturday, February 27, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I learned something new this morning. I subscribe to an email newsletter from http://www.christianhistory.net/ and the newsletter that I read this morning was about how we got Easter Eggs. Bet you didn't know either... Evidently in the second century the fast associated with lent included the abstinance from all things living--like beef, chickens, etc. Eggs and dairy products were included in the fast since they came from living things. The hens, unaware of the season of lent, would continue to lay eggs causing a surplus of eggs. When the season of lent concluded, eggs were in abundant supply and they were cheap. So, lots and lots of cheap and plentiful eggs would be eaten on Easter. The article also talks about why we dye eggs but I'll let you read about that for yourself. You can find the article here. Personally, I prefer the candy eggs--especially the chocolate ones. Those Cadbury eggs are pretty good too. We don't buy Easter candy until after Easter at the Samples' household. We usually make a trip over to Wal-greens the day after Easter to pick up some 50% off Easter candy. Then....a few weeks later we're back for the 75% off candy. Then, if we're really lucky....something is left for the 90% off sale. Now that I bring it up--we do that with all of the various "candy" holidays. I should say that "we" is me, Jaren, and Zach. Tina mocks us for our candy addiction.
Tina and I just took a little drive around Windsor looking for future meeting spaces for Grace River. The wonderful space that we're in at present is soon going to be too small. There are a lot of warehouse-type buildings available and so I feel pretty good about our prospects. The great thing about not owning a building is that it is easy to move when you outgrow your space.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Well, it's Friday--one of my favorite days of the week. I love Fridays because it's CR day. CR stands for Celebrate Recovery. I started attending CR back in September when I was in the early stages of an excruciatingly painful three-month process. CR became a sanctuary for me--a safe place where I could go and find acceptance, love, and support. Five months later--I still love to go. I jokingly refer to it as our date night. Whenever possible, Tina goes with me and we make it a night out.
Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step recovery ministry. You'll find people at CR recovering from everything from drugs and alcohol to anger, codependency, and relational issues. I've found that there are two kinds of people: those who know what their issues are and are working on them and those who are still in denial. I am convinced that EVERYONE has issues. CR is a wonderful environment in which to come clean, get honest, and start to find healing.
Tina and I (and many of our friends) attend the CR at Crossroads Church in Loveland every Friday night. There are other CR programs in the area but Crossroads is the only one that I have ever attended. One of my patterns is to find something that I like and then to stick with it. The Crossroads CR website is here. Feel free to check it out and if you live in the area--come and join us.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
There were fourteen units of material that we covered between Sunday and Wednesday. I list the main emphasis just to allow you to understand in a small way the enormity of what was covered during the training.
#1--Biblical Foundations - the biblical basis for planting new churches.
#2--Vision - discovering God's preferred future as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
#3--Core Values - why we do what we do.
#4--Ministry Area and Focus Group - who is it that we are actually trying to reach?
#5--Evangelism Strategy - How will we reach people with the Gospel?
#6--Discipleship and Leadership Strategy - How will leaders be raised up?
#7--Gathering Strategy - related to evangelism--how do we reach new people?
#8--Small Group Strategy - creating biblical community within the church.
#9--Stewardship Strategy - the wise use of resources: time, talent, & treasure.
#10--Worship Strategy - What does worship look like in our church?
#11--Administrative Strategy - all the stuff that I don't like to think about
#12--Church Master Design - understanding our church as a system.
#13--Developing Team - recognizing and growing the leadership that God has provided.
#14--Mileposts - a strategic planning strategy.
I don't really consider myself a true church planter. The "real" planters, in my opinion, start from scratch with nothing but a sense of calling and perhaps a few others who buy into their vision early on. They often, it seems, work through some very difficult days with little to show for their labor. A family here--a family there--a handful--then maybe a dozen. Growth can be slow and difficult. That is not my experience and if I can be honest--I hope that it never is. There is such a thing as an apostolic gifting--a Spirit-driven passion to start something new in a new place. That's not really me... I met a roomful of church planters this week who have labored to gather support, who have or are relocating their families to a strange land (beautiful--yet strange), and who are believing that God will work through them to grow a new church. These men and women really are heroes. I don't think that I have ever completely appreciated the task until I got to hear some of their stories, to see their faith, to see their passion, and to understand their love for Jesus and His church.
You can watch the entire "Basic Training Journey for Church Planting" webcast here. You will need to register for an account and then you will have access to the entire course.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Grace River began with a small group of people gathered in my living room imagining what could be and asking the Father to show his intentions. The attitude with which we began continues to be one of sorrow and brokenness and yet great hope and expectation. Most, if not all, of those who have found a home at Grace River, would readily confess to having "suffered for a little while". Some have been suffering for a long while. Grace River IS a "fellowship of suffering" (see Philippians 3:8-11).
Our first seven worship services were held at Martin and Joanna Castro's coffee shop/karate studio in south Fort Collins (Hwy 287 & Carpenter Road). Martin is a true friend who has willingly, lovingly, and sometimes sternly walked with me through some of the darkest days of my life. Visit his website at http://www.questacad.org/, especially if you live in the area and would like to look into top-notch martial arts training from a Christian perspective.
Our attendance while at Martin's steadily grew:
December 13th - 67
December 20th - 69
December 27th - 76
January 3rd - 68
January 10th - 72
January 17th - 88
January 24th - 96
As the attendance has grown, so has the atmosphere. It's hard for me to describe because I have never been a part of something this exciting. It's a feeling of love, a feeling of home, a feeling of honesty and authenticity, a feeling of hope, and a feeling of sheer joy. It is the truest manifestation of the Spirit's presence that I think that I have ever observed and experienced in any church.The first seven weeks were marked by "BYOC" (bring your own chair), less than quiet babies, tears and laughter, communion at the coffee bar, lawn chairs, food, hugs, and lots of testimonies. There has been a continual reminder (almost a mantra) that Grace River is a safe place. It is a place to come as you are and to share your deepest hurts, habits, and hangups believing in a God who loves to heal the broken-hearted.
Our eighth week together was marked by worship at the new building (1450 Westwood Drive). This is a building that formerly housed a Lutheran Church. It's a fairly new building (1999) that has been empty for two years. We started negotiating for the building back in December and were not able to sign the lease until Friday, January 29th. Our people came together on Friday evening and Saturday and cleaned the building, put anything we wouldn't use in the shed, and created worship space that we previously had only dreamed of. Ironically, we initally counted 96 chairs in the building (the exact number of our last service at Martin's). We would later find one more chair. Utilities were subscribed to with no deposits being required. The deposit for the building was donated by one of our families. In trying to get water, we realized that the connection was frozen at the street. The Town of Windsor readily sent someone out late Friday afternoon to solve the problem and to get our water flowing.
Our first service at the Westwood building was simply amazing. Worship, led byKyle Donohoe, was honest, passionate, and Christ-exalting. Our first song was the old Hank Williams standard, "I Saw the Light". My message was a continuation in our series, "New Beginnngs". We're looking at the creation narrative and making application to the creative work of Christ in our lives. The text for Sunday was Genesis 1:24-31 and emphasizd five truths: #1--We are the image of God (v26-27), #2--We are made to rule (v26,28), #3--We are blessed by God (v28), #4--We are provided for by God (v29-30), and #5--We are VERY good.
The 97 chairs that were set up would prove insufficient. Just prior to beginning the service, folding chairs were brought out of storage in order to seat the 113 worshippers that gathered for our first service in the new building.
I am thrilled to look forward to what God has in store for us in week nine. We are just beginning. May God continue to grow his church by adding day by day the broken and the hopeless. "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Peter 5:10).