The Faith of Leap

Crisis is no bad thing. In fact it’s an opportunity to rediscover the adventurous church. We will have to take risks, to chance failure, to be willing to walk away from the familiar paths that have brought us to this point.

It’s time to move, to cast off from safe shores, and take a journey again!

–Alan Hirsch, The Faith of Leap

It was a year ago today that I cast off from safe shores and set sail for the unknown. A day that I walked away from safety and security of what my family and I had known for a significant portion of our lives and stepped out in to an adventure that God was calling us to.  It’s been an amazing journey thus far; not like I expected and yet far better than anticipated. The people who have played a role in the past 12 months are the most important part of the story so if you will indulge me for a moment, there’s a few I’d like to thank.

  • Dennis Jeffrey – you’re belief in me means more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for supporting our vision and taking a chance on an unproven yet eager church planter.
  • Tom Greco – your weekly encouragement via text is a constant reminder that we’re not in this alone.
  • Chad Zunker – couldn’t have done it without you. Wouldn’t have wanted to.
  • Jeremy Self – who would have thunk it?  I know it had always been part of your vision to have a team. We’re just getting started.
  • Mac Richard – as my pastor for 12 years (and boss for 8 of those), I regularly apply lessons learned while at LHC. Grateful for my time there.
  • Chris Larsen – I’ve learned more about teaching and preaching from you than anyone else. There’s no better one out there.
  • Mark Groutas – it’s fun watching your faith of leap from a distance. So awesome to hear about what God’s doing through you in Denver.
  • Brandon Hatmaker – you challenge me bro. And I hate it (haha). Privilege to serve our city alongside you and ANC.
  • The Church at Lake Travis – no words, just tears of joy and excitement. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or serving anyone else.

And last but certainly not least: Wendy, Caitlin and Parker. You guys are my love and my life. Your support (and at times tolerance) of me in the last year has been incredible. You guys are my rock. I love you with all my heart.

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Life Interrupted: A Christmas Story

I know, I haven’t posted anything in several months, but this one was worth sharing.

Our student ministry is in the midst of a series called Life Interrupted: A Christmas Story.  One of our student pastors shared a story last night during the service that my 16 yr old daughter had written about her recent experience.  Being the proud dad that I am, I wanted to share it with you. Please indulge me.

It began on a Sunday morning before church. I was standing in front of my closet just staring at all the clothes. They were literally everywhere; on the floor, out of the drawers, on the hangers, when I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure I have too many clothes. I won’t even wear all of these by Christmas time.” I let the thought just sink in and continued with my day.

Mom and I went to bible study that night when I finally said something to her. Francis Chan, who wrote Crazy Love, had inspired us. He had said what if we all lived in community with each other. What if we shared money and food? What if we shared clothes? What if? I followed on the idea. I got in the car and told my mom that I didn’t want any Christmas presents. I wanted to use the money for something else, for someone else’s Christmas. Jesus gave to me didn’t he? So why should I take away from people, it seems unfair.

It was then that our plan sort of made itself. My mom and I raved on and on about it in the car. We got home that night and told my dad. Almost immediately we all started talking about doing this and doing that and giving money to this person and their family.Finally our Christmas plans had been set. Starting on the 13th of December and ending on Christmas we vowed to do something of service everyday. Even Christmas day!

It did take a little getting used to… We told my brother the grand idea and he responded with “Yeahs and oh cools…” all in that monotone voice of a boy who wants an XBox for Christmas. Though it’s such an outrageous and unheard of idea it will probably be the most rewarding thing I’ll ever do. Already we have my cousins in on the idea, and as one big family we’re going Christmas caroling at an assisted living facility. We are excited to have adopted a family through LHC and are humbled to provide for a 19-year-old disabled boy and his caretaker. In addition we’re sending money to some of our favorite charities and a good friend in Seminary. I’m counting down the days!! Only 4 left!

Thank you God for making my family and I realize what giving means. Thank you God for humbling me. And most of all Thank You God for loving me and showing me what it means to love others.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

saturday shout out

stealing a page from my friend Zak White, here’s the stuff i am excited/not excited about:

  • JACKED about attending NewSpring Church tomorrow.
  • SUPER JACKED about having the opportunity to spend Monday at the Masters in Augusta, GA.
  • NOT JACKED that there is a chance of thunderstorms on Monday.
  • NOT JACKED about leaving my family for 3 days.
  • JACKED about it being Passover week. 
  • JACKED about the new series, Soulmate, coming after Easter.
  • JACKED about www.examen.me. not bragging, but i’ve spent time in God’s Word for 13 straight days thanks to this new tool.
  •  NOT JACKED about missing services at LHC tomorrow.  Wish we had an online campus 🙂

extending our reach

One of the issues we wrestle with the most in Family Life ministry is extending our reach beyond the hour or two that children and students are in our ministries each week.

One of the creative solutions that our LHC Kids team has come up with to extend our reach is called Route 6:7 (based on Duet 6:7). We used to send the kids home with a weekly “talk sheet” with questions for parents to cover with their kids during the week. We noticed that these 1/2 page sheets ended up in their Bible, purse, floor board, or trash.

The newest member of our team, Sara, had the ingenious idea that we could condense the questions and print them on a card that could hang from the rear view mirror in the car where they would be visible throughout the week. They contain a weekly memory verse, as well as a question for each day of the week.

Here’s a pic:

67-hangers

The feedback has been incredible. Kids think they are the greatest thing ever and are begging parents to hang them up in the car immediately after church.  And, parents are actually using them. Just today I stopped by the local grocery store and saw 3 cars in the parking lot with the most beautiful pieces of yellow paper dangling from the rear-view mirror.  I can’t tell you how proud I was of our team in that moment.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7

What are you doing that is extending your reach?

outside the church

what do you do when they won’t come to you?

one of the things the Family Life team has been wrestling with over the last year is – how do we expose our ministries to more kids/students who don’t currently attend our weekly ministry events?  we’ve decided that no matter how great of an event we provide on a weekly basis (and we do provide great events), that not every child between the ages of 0-18 will participate in our ministries. we can have the hippest speakers, rockinest band, best facility, biggest budget, etc.. and the truth is not every kid/student will come to us.

we’re not satisfied with that. with a goal of reaching as many as possible for the Kingdom, we are beginning to focus on getting outside the walls of the church and into the community.

here’s just a few things we’ve been up to:

  • this afternoon our team will be kicking off red ribbon week at Lake Travis Middle School with a drug awareness presentation to over 800 middle school students. we have to walk the line between church/state, but the opportunity was too great to pass up.  Matt Williams our middle school director will be speaking and our LHC band will be playing.
  • our high school ministry, under the direction of Kirk Gentzel, felt the need to start an additional weekly Bible study/discussion. the decision was to have it outside the walls of the church and meet in a public place. you can catch them at Paciugo’s on Monday nights for some Jesus and java (or gellato if that’s’ your thing).
  • yours truly was selected to participate in Leadership Lake Travis. this is a regular monthly gathering of a select group of parents/leaders in the community who meet with the district superintendent and the elected school board to gain a better understanding of key issues facing the district and to offer support.

here’s the bottom line – it can’t be about getting as many people to come see you and your event. that’s only half the strategy. we have to go and meet people on their turf.

how about your team? what are you doing to get outside the church and into the community? seriously, we want to know so we can get better at this.

i need a revival

the other day i was reading the paper and there was an article about a recent mishap regarding Billy Graham. as i recall, i think he had taken a spill at home. anyway, my 12 year old son was sitting next to me and it dawned on me that he might not know anything about Billy Graham, crusades, or revivals.

this conversation reminded me of my Southern Baptist childhood and the church’s annual revival.  in the church world, a revival is a 3-4 day series of worship services designed to inspire active members and to gain new converts typically using a well-known speaker (and worship leader) to make the event “special”.  

i think what i enjoyed most as a teenager was the adventure that came with the thrill of the unknown that revivals brought with them. what was the speaker going to be like?  would he inspire me?  would i like the worship leader?  would my life change in some way?  would i learn something new about my faith?  would a friend i had invited come to know the Lord as his Savior?

call me corny, but i love revivals. 

i wonder why we don’t do them anymore?

i need a revival. who’s with me?

middle school changes

along with other big changes at LHC in recent weeks, our middle school ministry has recently made some major changes as well.

the smallest change was the name. from Quake, to Aftershock. we felt a name change was needed since the changes were so drastic. we wanted the new event to have a new name so it would not be associated with the old one. maybe not necessary, but you have to admit, Aftershock is a cool name.

the biggest change was moving from sunday mornings to wednesday evenings. under the leadership of Matt Williams, we outgrew the meeting space at The Warehouse. we noticed a disturbing trend that whenever we experienced a sunday at max capacity, attendance would drop in the weeks following. with a goal of reaching as many students as possible, this just didn’t sit well with our team. our only option was to move the ministry to a time and place we could use the worship center. wednesday’s just seemed to make sense.

the move off of sunday to wednesday has also allowed for more time with students. on sunday’s were limited to one hour. we have expanded our time on wednesday evening to two and half hours. the doors open at 6:00 for an hour of hang time, pizza, tutoring, basketball, skateboarding, crab soccer, foursquare, etc… the kids are eating it up (pun intended). at 7:00 we start our worship/teaching time. then at 8:00 we wrap it up with small group time before dismissing at 8:30.

you want to know the greatest part? there have been 48 brand new students come through our doors that have never attended before. i would venture to say that most (if not all) of them would never have attended on a sunday morning.

i’m just so thankful to be a part of a church community that allows us to take chances on changes.

if you know a middle schooler in the austin area that needs a place to belong, you will find us every wednesday night at 6:00 in the worship center doing our best to reach students in the city of Austin and beyond.

Matt has his own thoughts on the changes HERE.

becoming vs. doing

in our first leadership lyceum the other day, the topic of “becoming vs. doing” briefly entered the discussion.  even though this is a leadership subset of the family life team whose responsibilities include an excellent execution of ministry, the purpose of our weekly gathering is to focus on character issues and who we are becoming in Christ, as opposed to what we are accomplishing in our respective ministry areas.  we don’t talk about ministry attendance, volunteer recruitment or retention, etc…  we talk about character integrity and who we are at the core.

i have a belief that just as form should follow function from a design perspective, that doing should follow becoming.

see, the world defines us by what we do, but God’s Word centers on who we are in Christ (a new identity) and tells us to express this new identity in what we do.  make no mistake that becoming and doing are clearly interrelated, but the Biblical order is critical.  what we do should flow out of who we are.  otherwise, our worth and identity are determined by our accomplishments. the trouble with that is that once we stop performing, we cease to be valuable to ourselves or the organization. if you answer the question, “Who are you?” by what you do, the world has a sobering way of responding with “What have you done for me lately?”

the parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-10) is a great reminder that to accomplish things for the kingdom we must be consistently in relationship with, and abiding in Christ. as a matter of fact, these verses seem to imply that if focus on becoming (abiding), that there is no limit to our doing.

i believe with all my heart this team is on the verge of something spectacular. not because of what we will do (or God through us), but because He will honor who we are becoming.

stay tuned.

for more on leadership development, you should attend this conference:

no “i” in team

a little shout out. the family life team that God allows me to be a part of may be the most selfless team on the planet. 

  • as i type this, our early childhood director Laurie Byington, is standing outside in the heat serving up pizza to our middle school students as a volunteer
  • in addition, our middle school director Matt Williams volunteers faithfully every Sunday night at our weekly high school event.
  • our assistant early childhood director, Denise Grosch, is a volunteer leader in our DivorcecCare ministry.  
  • Kirk Gentzel (high school director) and his wife Kerra volunteer every week with our middle school ministry. 
  • my favorite example is Doug Connolly, our assistant elementary school director, staying every Sunday night and volunteering to help with our elementary school kids during our adult Core Classes.

each of them have responsibilities in their specific areas of ministry that they must tend to everyday and for which they collect a paycheck. and yet, they volunteer additional hours to other areas of ministry.

they understand, practice, and appreciate that there is no “i” in team.

go team.

leadership lyceum

lyceum – a hall where discussions are held. also the grove at Athens were Aristotle taught.

this Thursday my living room will become a place where our Family Life management team will meet for weekly leadership discussions. this is NOT a weekly staff meeting, but rather a place where we will talk about the issues that leaders wrestle with: character, vision casting, loving people, leading by example, serving others, being excellent, etc…

we are kicking off the lyceum with the Deadly Viper Character Assasins. further discussions will include Peter Block’s Community and Craig Groeschel’s It. I’m hopeful that the books will fuel our discussions and serve to break down the barriers so we can be real with one another.

what do you do to sharpen the iron?