I spent this week with some of our staff at a conference in Atlanta. The past few days for me added to or confirmed with me part of an ongoing study I have about “what is the church?” I last posted about it here: What is the Church? 10 Things the Bible Says About the Church, but this week was focused on discipleship.
This group (3DM) we started to explore months ago doesn’t have a new program, or some new secret way to make disciples, they walked through how Jesus did this. That means this was really more like a workshop than a conference, and there wasn’t a step-by-step process by those Type-A’s can take away and say “this is how you do it.” That’s what made this different than the host of Christian conferences we all love to attend.
I’m not actually sure how to completely process everything presented to us over the last three days. It was a great starting point to learning how to create disciples, not how to create the church. If there was a quote for church staff and leaders that stuck with me, it was this.
Make disciples and it will build and create the church. Build a church and you aren’t necessarily creating disciples.
This is completely backwards from what our American church is. Our consumerist church of the 21st century is certainly a place where we can go on Sunday’s to consume a church product, but is it a place we create disciples as Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28? It turns church on its head because it is a scary place for church staff, and a freeing place for followers of Christ. I have heard it said countless times that church is not a building it is the people, but that’s a hard thing to live out when we place so much emphasis on doing church in that traditional church building.
That’s the raw unfiltered understanding of the last few days, it’s not anything ground breaking, but creating disciples is what we are called to do, building the church building is a place where we believers gather to worship on Sunday, not the place where we evangelize the unchurched.
Up for a quick book review today is a book called The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, which I finished up a few weeks ago. This small book (176 pages) was published back in September of 2009 by John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, and Mark Driscoll come together with worship pastor Bob Kauflin, counselor Paul Tripp, and literature professor Daniel Taylor to discuss the power that words have, and how our speak can both edify and vilify our brothers and sisters in Christ. This book came out of the Desiring God National Conference in 2008 with the same name (2008 National Conference Messages), and each author takes a chapter in their own specialized field to discuss the impact of words on our life, specifically that of Scripture. All in all a great, quick, read for those Christians interested in words.
I will admit that from the start I didn’t expect much from this book other than a good collection of a few sermons, but I was quite surprised by its depth of content and overall usefulness in application. The book isn’t broken up like this, but below are three sections or reasons I found quite valuable, and a book I would highly recommend reading.
The Power of Words in History The Power of Words takes a great look at the history of words, spoken and written, and how people like Luther and others used their power of words to change the church, even if it was crude at times. It was needed. Look at what Luther was fighting, and we can see that mocking and crude speech like this is sometimes called for.
Luther argued that his theological opponents avoided the Bible: “I cry: Gospel, Gospel, Gospel! Christ, Christ! Then they reply: The fathers! The fathers! Custom, Custom! Statutes, Statutes! But when I say: The fathers, custom, and the statutes have often been in error; matters of this kind must be settled by a stronger and more reliable authority; but Christ cannot be in error—then they are more speechless than fish. (location 1576)
The Power of Words in Application Along with the historical look at how we use speak The Power of Words takes a practical approach to our speech today. Scripture has so much to say about how we should speak, and when we should refrain from speaking, how devastating the tongue can be, and how we can use it to lift people up when they are down.
We foolishly assume that our real struggles with sin are in the areas where we are “weak.” We do not well understand the depth of sin until we realize that it has made its home far more subtly where we are “strong,” and in our gifts rather than in our weaknesses and inadequacies.
The Power of Words in Music The last section was the most unexpected section, but also contains the most valuable affirmation of music and its importance in our earthly Christian walk. I really didn’t expect a section on music that talked about words and speech, but this section took the book from being a good book to being a great book. If you are at all involved in the music life of the church (and technically we all are), this section should be a must read. Three great points (of many) that were made on the power of music today were stated by Bob Kauflin saying:
There’s certainly a place for expressing our subjective responses to God in song, but the greater portion of our lyrical diet should be the objective truths we’re responding to: God’s Word, his character, and his works, especially his work of sending his Son to be our atoning sacrifice.
We conclude that a certain beat, volume, chord progression, instrument, or vocal style is evil in and of itself. But unless those aspects are spelled out in Scripture we should be cautious about assigning a moral value to them.
An increasing number of churches have adopted the practice of offering different services for different musical tastes. While that decision can be well intentioned, I believe the long-term effect is to separate families and generations and to imply that we gather together around our musical preferences, not Jesus Christ.
Overall, The Power of Words is one of those books that is such a quick and easy read that even if you have a slight interest in how words and speech affect our walk with Christ, you should pick up this book. Each author or contributor adds to the value of this book, and even though you might not agree with everything they stand for personally they have put together a great collective word on the power God placed in the written and spoken word.
It has been a while since my last post but I still wanted to post a few of my favorites from Maximum Impact. It was a great event and I am glad I was able to be in Atlanta for the live simulcast location. One of my favorite photo shoots of the afternoon ended up being several different shots I got of Kevin Carroll. He was great to put up with two different photographers hounding him and it made for some great images. Some others posted below are Liz Murry from Homeless to Harvard and Mark Sanborn with his new book the Fred Factor.
If you get a chance to see any of these folks in person it is well worth your time, they were great inspirational speakers and have amazing stories to tell.
I wanted to post an update of the books that have made it to my read (or reading) list. I was planning on reviewing each one but just ran out of time. Over several months prior to my official start of Seminary (a topic I haven’t posted about yet, but will at some point) I tried to get back into the habit of reading, a lot. In my first two seminary classes I had a combined 8 books for eight weeks of class, so getting into the habit of reading, all the time, has been very helpful.
One of the books I am almost finished with is Craig Groeschel‘s book called Confessions of a Pastor. Published back in 2006, Confessions has a great combination of self deprecating humor of his own sin with real teaching and application of God’s principles for life in general. What got me interested in reading Craig’s book wasn’t really the topic but meeting Craig and listening to him speak in Atlanta and most recently at Catalyst West Coast in Orange County California.
Here are some images of Craig speaking at Catalyst West Coast I took a week or two ago.
I haven’t made it to the end of Craig’s book yet but one of the last sections in the book, “I’m Afraid of Failure” had one of the best examples of how we condition ourselves for failure before we even begin (read the section called Failure by Numbers).
To avoid potential failure and pain, people abort their dreams. They stop trying.
Confessions of a Pastor is a great church leadership type book, glad it made it on to my “read” list.
I can’t quite remember a day that lasted this long since my last trip to Las Vegas when we arrived at 2am after leaving Atlanta early in the morning. Today at least I did arrive in the 3pm area but not it is 12:30am at home and I am just trying to process everything that went on today.
I did take a tour of Mariner’s Church for tomorrow’s main event. It was very great to get an early walk around and I did get to see some familiar faces from Atlanta over here in Orange County. After the labs ended today the kick-off event started with Carlos as the MC.
Below are just a few photos form the evening. The last shot is the chapel here at Mariner’s Church. At night it was transformed into this incredible flood of colors and I may do a post with just shots of this chapel, it is very beautiful.
Many of you may know about the great conferences put on by the Catalyst folks, well this Wednesday is the big one, Catalyst West Coast. Having been to the full multi-day conference in October (photos), I know this one is going to be a great time of learning and fellowship. I feel privileged to have been asked by Catalyst to be one of the photographers for the west coast event (along with Daley Hake on his home turf), so this week I will make my way out to Los Angeles and to Mariner’s Church for the shoot.
Look for some photos here starting around Wednesday or Thursday if I can find a wifi connection (and some time).
At the end of last week I went to the Unleash Conference with most of the staff in our church. It was one of those days filled with so much information that you just want to run back toy our church and implement all at once when you can’t even remember half of what was said. To try to make some sense of the information at Unleash I compiled the live twitter notes I took that day.Â Everyone likes a quick little top ten list so I will do that below, but if you are interested in the full unedited version, below are the 127 points I made on Twitter during the Unleash Conference.
If I was using scribble, the 127 points is what my original post would have looked like, but that is a little much to take in from one post. One of the main points Perry Noble made in the first session was to not follow people who are harmful to your walk, and he gave bloggers as his first point as an example. I of course keyed in on this since I didn’t think of myself as a harmful blogger, and with just a little digging I was astonished to see how much of what Perry Noble preaches has been taken out of context, misquoted, and all around misused when the whole point is to leave disunity out of the church.
Top 10 Points Taken from Unleash
#13 we don’t want to become a monument or museum, we want to continue to be a movement for Christ
#16 are you kissing toilets all week long to them show up on Sunday to hear a Jesus service
#26 sheep don’t lead the Sheppard, pray for your pastor and church leaders :: let them know, you are with them
#28 Satan doesn’t want to split your church, he wants to split your staff
#59 the only churches that numbers aren’t important to are the ones that aren’t willing to change
#60 God didn’t call your church to condemn the city it called it to reach the city, it isn’t always about us, the church
#70 You are only as deep as the last person you served
#74 is there anything you are manufacturing at your church just so as not to hurt the feelings of the people running said event
#78 churches need to get out of the business of competing with each other and get into the business of completing each other
#85 if you are telling people who can and can’t come to your church you are telling God he can’t come
All 127 Notes Taken at Unleash on Twitter
@jpvandyke crowd at #unleash was incredible, every seat was filled and most was standing room only
@givelovecoffee exactly, I’m right there with ya, out of “church” and into “ministry” #unleash
RT @ipiphanist: tired, sore throat, still lots to do before i’m ready for sunday=post #unleash hangover 🙁 :: I’ll agree with that
givelovecoffee @ I’m doing this TODAY get OUT of church work to get back into ministry #unleash going deep not wide trusting the Lord for $$$
Back in Auburn and for some reason it feels like I have been gone a week #unleash
@ipiphanist it was great, super glad we were able to connect at #unleash , a lot to digest down the road
the ride home #unleash feels a lot longer than ride to SC, although @jackfisher is flying at low altitude
ipiphanist @ great meeting you today! hope #unleash encouraged and inspired you
The final session of the Unleash Conference started with an unbelievable worship time and moved into Perry Noble talking about leadership in the church. He brought up some serious issues in the church and asked some tough questions. Who is with me? How often are we asking the question, am I pleasing God? How much time are we spending in prayer? Are we only inviting the people we want in church, or are we remembering that God wants everyone in church? He left us a lot to wrestle with and it will take some time to process everything. I am glad there are churches like NewSpring over here in Anderson and around the world.
We are now halfway through the day here at the Unleash Conference and I have moved into the next breakout session called Multi-site Campus and Technology. It has been a packed morning so far and I will update any photo only posts here with some commentary at a later date, but it has been a great experience so far. What is pretty incredible is the volunteer staff here at NewSpring. I am totally impressed with the force the volunteers have taken over here at NewSpring. They have been nothing but helpful, nice, and servants of everyone visiting from outside the Anderson campus area.
The efficiency that they have shown so far has been just amazing. Lunch was probably the largest display of Chick-fil-a I had seen since the Chick-fil-a Bowl during the SEC football season, and the volunteers served an amazing number of people at one time. Thanks to everyone at NewSpring for your hospitality.