South Charlotte Church Plant

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Thursday, December 19, 2013


After 10 years of blogging on this website...I have determined it is time to pack up and move...

While it should redirect you automatically, I want to get the word out to come visit my new personal website

See you over there...housewarming gifts are accepted.

Monday, December 09, 2013

What's the Plan?

Last night we welcomed 41 people into the Art Gallery of Myers Park High School for advent worship services. It was a tremendous gift to see people from a variety of different areas coming together to authentically worship Jesus Christ.  We all came together with multiple lenses of faith and church backgrounds.  People with deep walks of faith and those who have given up on Church but not on God.

As we headed out into the cold night, people wanted to know what the master plan is.  After hosting these three weeks of Advent services, then what?

It is a valid question.  Our training often tells us to have strategic plans, a 5-year vision, and step-by-step instructions.  And while we certainly do, it is essential that we leave space for the Holy Spirit to work.  

After these three weeks of worship, our Trailblazer community will continue meeting at 7pm on Tuesday nights beginning on January 14th to start planning for those next steps.  These three weeks will reveal to us the steps necessary to help this community emerge as the full body of Christ.  It is still our prayer that we could move to weekly worship in the Spring and Summer of 2014, but to get there, we need prayer and people committed to this mission.  Our goal is to have 40 Trailblazers committed in order to build a foundation for weekly worship.  

We will need people who are gifted musically, those who love to develop video, those who enjoy teaching children, those who can setup and breakdown space, those who can run spreadsheets, those who can smile and make folks feel welcomed into our community.  Though we may not fully understand all that God is doing and will continue to do, we know that He has called us to excellence.  We want to do weekly worship when it can be done in a smooth and well-designed fashion; if done prematurely then we will quickly find ourselves exhausted having sprinted when in reality we are running a marathon.  

If you are feeling God's nudging that in some way you may be called to have an impact on this city, on your community, in your life...I would invite you to Myers Park High School over the next two Sunday nights to meet our community and consider becoming a part of the Trailblazer team.

Years from now, when you pause to consider what impact your faith has had, what do you want to be known for? I know for me the idea of getting to help God birth a new community of faith will be life affirming and changing.

The mantra I am considering is how do we move from being invited to being challenged by God?  How might God be challenging you this Christmas?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Reflections on Risk Taking

I was able to spend the lunch hour yesterday with 30 men from a variety of industries discussing the challenges to taking risks, through the Iron Project.  The leaders led us through the 5 areas that men need to risk: physically, in friendships, in our faith, emotions and jobs.
We highlighted that the largest hinderance to risk is FEAR.  (Perhaps this is why Jesus 17 times tells people “Do not fear”).  In many of my recent conversations with others considering church planting, or pursuing a new career, ultimately our conversation turns to the practical reality of money.  I believe that this not because money is the only concern, but because it is the easiest to wrap our brains around.  
Money is a very tangible marker…a balance sheet clearly declares whether you have the “margins” to make the move.  And if anything, hopefully our market crash of 2007/8 taught us the danger of leverage very little margins.
As a result, I left the gathering convinced that to make major risks in life, we have to have confidence.  Therefore, the question is how do you gain confidence.  I believe that in order to have the necessary confidence, we need to build out “margins” in our lives.  Not just financially, but also physically, socially, and spiritually.
Like wise financial training that teaches us to nest away portion of our profits in order to build the necessary margin to take a risk, our discussion made me wonder what would that look like in these three areas of our life.
1)  Physically:  If you want to take a risk like running a marathon, one of the most vital components is the taper.  You cannot train hard all the way up the race.  You have to back off, storing up energy to complete the 26.2 miles. 
Similarly, if you want to bench 300lbs, you cannot just keep living on the edge putting more and more plates on the bar.  Your muscles need time to be restored.  You have to build up, and time it just right to peak at the critical point.

2)  Socially:  Taking a risk socially is harder to quantify.  Perhaps it is asking out “that girl.”  Or opening up to a buddy to go deeper than the Duke/UNC game.  A friend who does campus ministry says that he will often tell a freshman boy who he knows has absolutely no chance, but  is asking nervously, “Do you think she would go out with me?”  ”Definitely.  Go for it.”  He is pushing this boy to take the risk, to fail, to pick himself up, because by doing so he is building up a confidence margin that will allow him to do it again the next time.
True community is formed through shared time, space and a common mission.  So to forge the bonds socially requires that we start set aside time and space on a common mission with other people.  This will then give us strong friends we can call upon when the stuff hits the fan in life.
To “come back” to church to learn how to listen and talk to God in this season is why its so hard to hear Him.  Life has gotten too loud with bosses, wives and kids all screaming for attention.
What is vital is building out that relationship in the calm and quiet seasons.  It’s nesting away 15 minutes with God’s word, trying to pray when there isn’t anything pressing, looking for God in the ordinary.   This builds out the margins in our life that give us the confidence when we are about to take a risk.

3) Spiritually:  I have often seen, heard and experienced the mantra that those youth who grew up in the church will return once they get married, an illness or have children.  However, whenever I can grab the ear of a 20 something, I try to explain that by that point they are drinking from the firehydrant of life desperately grasping for something to hold onto.  They struggle to understand why that perfect love is now a bit pedestrian; they realize they have to tell their spouse where they are going when they want to get a loaf of bread; and then discover that those rugrats need yet another diaper change. 
For me, it wasn’t that risky to leave the stability of a successful church to go out without a paycheck, without an office, without a phoneline, without much…but I believe that is because I had built over the past 12 years a healthy body, a strong marriage and a deep faith.  In a way I am cashing out all the margins I had stored up in my life–my savings account, my energy, leaning on friendships, and clinging to my faith.  Becaue at the end of the race, I long to hear God’s promise, “well done, good and faithful servant…”

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

F3::Signposts Along the Way: My EH Story

My reflection after one full year in the F3 community.

(Disclaimer: The names have been kept the same to blame the innocent…and if you recall the story differently, that’s fine but this is my reflection.  I have spent the day on my 1yr reflecting on the impact of F3 in my life, and thank you all for obliging my longwinded reflection.)

Read the reflection here

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Devotion::Enjoy Today

"That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil--this is the gift of God."  Ecclesiastes 3:13

I like it when God stacks things up...

I have been listening to my first audiobook (well, if you count the time in high school when the day before school began my buddies and I thought we could just listen to a book on tape rather than read our summer reading book--who knew it takes longer to listen?) about the fall of the financial market in 2007 and 2008 called Too Big to Fail.

Then this past week, my mom gave me manuscripts from talks delivered by my great-grandfather, who was NOT an ordained pastor, but a lay church planter.  As I devoured his words, I discovered how relevant his messages from the 1950s are for us.  He wrote, "As far back as we can go...there has been one main objective in the mind of man, that is, to possess security."  Later he says, "We respect one who through his own efforts has accomplished success in material things.  Yet such a man would be the first to tell you that regardless of the amount of his worldly goods he cannot be assured of retaining his life, and certainly much of life cannot be obtained with silver and gold."

I have also been reading Ecclesiastes for my personal devotion, which is not much of a pick-me-up.  But I have appreciated how relevant Solomon's depiction of the pursuit of wealth, meaning, power, and women has been in his life.  He has tried to find security through an increase in knowledge, the pursuit of pleasure and the accumulation of material stuff...all of which he declares are meaningless.

Security, he discovers, rests only in the gift of God.  The above verse shows that we can enjoy today--the joy of table fellowship, a good conversation over Starbucks coffee, the value of hard work--because all of this is a gift from God. 

In this season of Advent, which means waiting, we can find security in our fears, doubts, anxieties, concerns through the story of Jesus Christ's birth, death and resurrection.  This story gives meaning, value and purpose to our lives as we seek to live for Him.  While we may be storing up treasures here on earth that will one day fail, His promise is that He will give us real life...and real life abundantly.