Ted Haggard Starts A New Church

I just commented on a post from @POTSC about Ted Haggard starting a new church. Check it: http://ow.ly/1TNhG


Crazy Love

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I first saw Francis Chan speak a couple years back at a conference in Northern California.  I was completely taken by his ability to be honest, transparent and vulnerable while presenting a message with depth and substance.  Since then I’ve seen a few video blogs, heard a podcast and read a few articles of his online and really enjoyed his consistent authenticity.

This book definitely had it’s engaging and sleepy moments for me, but I really feel the overall message is brought home with a challenge to leave the safe and expected for the risky and crazy journey of faith and love we should be on as followers of Jesus.  His writing style feels consistent with the conversational and relational way he speaks and conveys his message in a live setting.  One fun thing he did with this book was to have video chapter introductions on the book website.  Definitely a cool way to connect with who the author is and get a more personal sense of his heart.

One thing I appreciate here was Chan’s willingness to embrace a bit of controversy in some bold statements throughout the book.  There may be people who will fully dismiss his message because of one or two sentences in this book, but I believe that would shortchange the reader from some great challenges and insights throughout this read.

Crazy Love ultimately prods the reader to evaluate if we’ve chosen the safe and comfortable American dream in place of the radical call to actually love people the way Jesus did.  Are we willing to sell what we have, give away our stuff, love the poor, serve with our time, let go of our money and hang out with our enemies?  To live and love like Jesus…it will radically change us and wreck the security we’ve been told is what’s important.  It’s not a condemning message…convicting, yes…but kind of a reality check to look inside and see where our personal treasure is.

Well done Francis.

::: Have You Read This Book?  Post Your Thoughts? :::

Publisher’s Info:

God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response?

We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know somethings wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions?

God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Eagle Brook Church [Blaine] ::: April 24-25/2010 Weekend Recap

I was up in Minneapolis, MN with Eagle Brook Church last weekend.  I flew in on Wednesday to spend some time with their worship/creative arts staff and get a sense for how ministry looks and feels in this multi-campus church of 13,000+.  It was very cool to see how their operations first-hand and meet the teams in place.

Through my years of touring and working with so many different types and styles of churches, I definitely feel more connected to churches that are really dialed into their purpose and reaching people with intentionality.  More than just liking to “do church” because “that’s the way we’ve always kind of done it,” I love to see a church focused on a cause and compelled to reach the culture and community around them with the love of Jesus.  This definitely exists at Eagle Brook.  I am completely moved to know that more than 525 people made a first-time decision to follow Jesus over the Easter weekend this year because the team at Eagle Brook Church presented Jesus to the people there on purpose.

I was fortunate to get to lead worship for their new Blaine Campus on Sunday night.  Blaine is kind of in a pre-launch phase.  The four services at their Spring Lake Park Campus are completely packed out, so there is a need to relieve some of the attendance pressure there before they are able to launch at the new facility in Blaine this coming fall.  I got to have some of their top players back me up and really had a great time with the set.  The audio, lighting, media and IMAG crews were top notch as well and really made the experience a pleasure.

I got to learn a new song for this week too, Awakening by Switchfoot.  It was fun to take on a bit of a departure from some of the material I do on a more regular basis, made all the better because the band was great and right there rocking it.  Here is the set we did:

Today Is The Day (Lincoln Brewster)
Awesome Is The Lord Most High (Jon Abel)
All Because Of Jesus
(Steve Fee)
Jesus Paid It All
(Kristian Stanfill)

If you live in the northern Minneapolis/St. Paul areas, definitely take the time to check out a service at Eagle Brook.  I’m excited to see what God continues to do in and through their ministry in the years to come.

Someone told me it gets cold in Minnesota….and that they like cheese….thoughts?


Jim & Casper Go To Church

Jim & Casper Go To Church“Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?” A question that I believe all church leaders should consistently ask themselves.  Buzzwords like ‘relevant’ and ‘authentic’ sound-off frequently in many church planning and staff meetings, but are we?  Beyond that, is our form and function connecting with people in their real life world?

These are things I wrestle with personally as a vocational ministry guy.  In ‘doing’ church the all-American way, am I part of the problem?  Does what I do matter?  Where I know my life matters is in the relationships I have.  The friendships and encounters I get to be a part of in my work as a worship guy matter…and sometimes make a difference.

So I land here…that I’ll work diligently right where God has placed me…and love the people I get to be around.  Then I’ll try to use whatever influence I might have to move towards real relationships and honest ministry, reaching real people in the real world…because that’s what Jesus told us to do.

I love the author’s challenge to church leaders and attenders, to visit other churches as an outsider, often.  In my years of touring, I’ve had the opportunity to be in hundreds of different churches, and I feel that it remains important to keep a fresh perspective on if what we do in church is actually doing what Jesus wants us to do.

I would recommend that church leaders read this book to challenge us and dislodge us from comfort zones and perceived realities.  I think that this book is also a good read for Christians who have been attending their church for years.  Let the words of an outsider change the way we think about and approach community and church so that we can actually meet people where they are and maybe even love on them a bit.  As for me?  I’m going to keep asking:

“Is this what Jesus told me to do?”

Publisher’s Info:

Jim Henderson pays people to go to church. In fact, he made national news when he “rented” a soul for $504 on E-Bay after its owner offered an “open mind” to the highest bidder. In Jim & Casper Go to Church, Hendrson hires another atheist–Matt Casper–to visit ten leading churches with him and give the “first impression” perspective of a non-believer. What follows is a startling dialogue between an atheist and a believer seeing church anew through the eyes of a skeptic, and the development of an amazing relationship between two men with diametrically opposing views of the world who agree to respect each others’ space. Foreword by George Barna.

The Hole In Our Gospel

The Hole In Our GospelI’ll be honest, I approached this book with a bit of an attitude.  Having worked with World Vision since 1998, I have read a lot about previous WV presidents, and heard many people sing the praises of these fine leaders.  I’m not really one who is enamored by people and their positions, and I expected this book to be a big Rich Stearns promo…my assumptions were completely misplaced.

Rich writes in a very conversational and accessible style.  The transparency in telling his story is powerful.  I was particularly taken with the way he honestly admits where he has missed it, and how he’s doubted God at times.  I was deeply impacted by the way God brought him to take his position with World Vision, and the character of a man to give up so much material and positional success to serve the poor.

Beyond a discussion of the statistics and great need in our world, I feel that Rich uncovers some truths in how the Christian church is missing part of our missional and faith mandate to share the whole gospel of Jesus.  The challenge to give more than just money, but to invest our time and our talents in serving the poor, the widow and the orphan is clear.  And the reasons to do so are far deeper than feeling guilty because we have more than people living in poverty; our motivations should be fueled by a passion and obedience to our calling as followers of Jesus.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in discovering more about the huge needs in our world brought on by poverty and disease.  It will also prompt Christians to consider where our priorities lie, and just how passionate we are about living out the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.

Publisher’s Info:

“Preach the Gospel always.  Use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi

It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.  His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.  It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.  Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.  Stearns believes it can happen again.