May 19, 2010

Mid-Week Check In

Busy, busy days around here at Sixth Street. Lots going on. Wanted to give you a brief review and update:
  • We are super excited to have Amy Young on board as our Children's Ministry/Office Associate. She has hit the ground running! After a planned vacation to visit her sister, she has been radically working to get us a calendar planned for the summer. Take some time to call the church office and welcome her and pledge your support.
  • Dr. Rick Lance was a tremendous blessing to us this past Sunday. He graciously opened his calendar for us and challenged our hearts. I have been deeply influenced by Dr. Lance for many years. Pray for him as he continues to lead us as Alabama Baptists.
  • Pray for me tonight as I am preaching at the City-Wide Evangelistic Services at Faith Temple. I was graciously extended the invitation to preach several months ago. I will be preaching on the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18. Pray for clarity, power, that the gospel will be central, and that someone will be changed for eternity.
  • If you missed Sunday night, Kent Forbus and his family did a great job leading in special music. They are new to Sixth Street. I am glad that they have jumped in and felt welcome to share their talents with us.
  • Graduate Recognition Service will be this coming Sunday. I am excited to see this historic moment in these students lives. It will also be a time of some proud mamas, dads, and grandparents.
  • Vacation Bible School is just around the corner. We have a great team that has stepped up to the plate to serve this year. The theme is "Heroes Headquarters". We will be teaching children how to team up with Jesus in what he is doing. Our campus will be turned into a hero's lair for the event. Please register your child to be a part of VBS. You can do so here.
  • Pray for my wife Alison and Morgan Jones who are planning on going to Swaizland, Africa in August.  This trip will be working with orphans through Children's Hope Chest.  They have to come up with about $3000 each for the trip.  Pray for their physical, spiritual, and financial preparation.  
  • I encourage you to watch your spiritual life closely.  As good things are happening in the church as we move forward, it is vital that we remain in the vine (John 15).  Everything flows from our spiritual life and devotion to Christ.  Make time regularly for the Word and prayer.  Pray for me as a leader that I can do the same. 
  • I just started a new book by David Platt called "Radical".  I highly encourage you to get it and read it. More to come later.
Verse of the week - "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."  Philippians 2:12-13

May 13, 2010

Ever Been to Church Here?

A little too realistic, but a humorous and satirical look at what everyone is trying to do.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

May 12, 2010

Suburban Family Humor (for the Soccer Moms and Baseball Dads)

Hey all you Anglo-Soccer Moms. Time to get your swagger on.

May 6, 2010

Mid-Week Check In

Haven't posted as much lately. Looks like Sixth Street has hit that Spring Fever - Lots going on, families travelling on the weekends more, etc. Attendance has been down, but other things have been going well.
  • We had an awesome children's choir program two weeks ago. The kids did a great job. The drama was actually written by some of the kids. Awesome! My oldest Nathan sang his first church solo which I posted a few weeks ago. Thanks to Carrie Keel and her team for a great year.
  • We finished our "Unveiling Easter" series this past week looking at the two thieves on the cross. Two men in the same situation that ended up with different destinations. Powerful stuff.
  • This Sunday is Mother's Day. I know church will be packed with some new guests. Make sure to do something special for your mom this week.
  • Be in prayer for me as I prepare to preach in the local City-Wide Evangelistic Services on Wednesday, May 19. Pray for my personal preparation as well as for an outpouring of the Spirit on our town. I have sensed a great deal of spiritual apathy and lethargy lately. I sense lots of people going through the religious motions, but no real, genuine sense of dependence upon God.
  • Sixth Street is proud to welcome the newest member of the staff, Amy Young. Amy will be working to strengthen our children's ministry and do some work around the office. She is a hard worker and has hit the ground running to get our VBS and Summer Camp ready.
  • Speaking of Summer Camp, please sign up your kids grades 3-6 for Student Life Kids Camp on June 28-July 1 at Shocco Springs. Sign your students (grades 6-12) for Student Life at the Beach on July 5-9. Both of these will be great opportunities for your kids to learn more about the gospel and the Lord Jesus. It will be the best investment you will make in your kids all year.
  • Pray for our Southern Baptist Convention and our leaders of the Great Commission Resurgence. This is an important time for our convention to decide if we are going to be tied to the past and continue to watch our denomination and churches lose ground or look to the future and be challenged to see us make a difference in church planting and unreached people groups. I will be attending the convention in Orlando myself this summer. Pray for all of us that we will prayerfully, humbly, and repentantly seek the Lord on this decision.
  • Be at church next Sunday, May 16th to hear Dr. Rick Lance, director of the Alabama State Board of Missions. He is an anointed preacher and leader. I have had the honor of knowing him for several years and am thrilled to give him a chance to speak to us.

May 5, 2010

My 10 Ministry Fears

I recently had the privilege to speak to the pastors and my spiritual brothers here in the Tallapoosa Baptist Assocation. I felt compelled to share with them a little of my heart regarding ministry. I gave them what I call "My 10 Ministry Fears". I will share them with you here.

1. Preaching without Depth - I have found it far too easy to preach with little preparation in the hard work of exegesis or in the agony of prayer. It is easy to stand on a platform and give spiritual advice. It is difficult to say "Thus says the Lord."

2. Church Growth without the Gospel - I was blessed to serve for 13 years in a fast-growing church with one of the most gifted staffs in the state. However, planning programs and doing public worship that attracts people is easy. Bringing the gospel to life is difficult. I know too well how easy it is to sit in a conference room and plan an event and never ask what it has to do with the gospel or the Great Commission.

3. Personal Success without Spiritual Intimacy - Unfortunately, I also know too well what it is like to have a successful growing ministry at the cost of my personal intimacy and time in God's Word.

4. Choosing Competition over Cooperation - Whenever we pastors get together, we always play the numbers game. We read the yearly report in the state paper regarding baptisms and CP giving and see where we stand up with the other churches. Unfortunately, billions of people have no access to the gospel and thousands in our community lack relevant ministry, but as long as we are in the top 5 in baptisms, we take delight.

5. Discipleship without Life Change - It's easy to have a program with Bible study and classes that focus on fulfillment in the Christian life. It's difficult and messy to actually disciple people - to focus on true accountability, focused prayer, and spiritual maturity. If we have a "discipleship" class and someone attends for at least one year and does not have the ability to personally disciple another person, then that discipleship class is a failure.

6. Leadership without Wisdom - Our culture has brought several advances in the marketplace regarding leadership. Much of it is very applicable to the work of the church. I have been personally challenged by John Maxwell and Seth Godin's writings in addition to Jim Collins' Good to Great. However, our leadership advances need to be grounded in the wisdom and plan of God. Just because you are the leader of an organization does not mean that you are the smartest person in the organization or the most sensitive to the Spirit.

7. Church Success without Family Failure - I have been more personally convicted about my lack of truly discipling my three boys and lack of prayer with my wife. The landscape of ministry is littered with men who faithfully served God's bride and neglected their own. That is spiritual adultery. I can't make disciples of all nations if I can't make disciples in my own home.

8. Ministry without Vision - It's far too easy to spend my ministry focusing on my church and our budget. The vast majority of churches spend 95% of their budget on internal ministry and very little on accomplishing God's global ministry. It's too easy to be happy with baptizing my few and not focus on sending dozens out to the ends of the earth. My former pastor taught me to pray that God will give me a vision so big that if He isn't in it, I are doomed to fail.

9. Putting on a Ministry Mask – One of the things that makes my stomach turn as a minister is the mask that each and every one of us put on. Ministry is full of inauthentic, insecure, and shallow leaders that are overly concerned with the opinions of their fellow ministers than being authentic. This inauthenticity bleeds down through the church and fills our pews with people wearing their own masks and robs the church of biblical community and depth.

10. Developing an Unteachable Spirit - I have been known for a while as a person who reads a lot. The reason is that I want to always have a teachable spirit. I have seen too many ministers who pride themselves that the read "God's Word", but little else. They believe that because of their comfort level, they have arrived at doing ministry and don't need to learn anything else. This creates a spiritual sedentariness that breeds apathy, jealousy, negativity, and stalls vision.

Those are some of my biggest fears. What are yours?

May 4, 2010

Don't Read this Book (unless you want to be seriously changed)

This is a video introduction to David Platt's new book Radical. I think this will be a major book for this generation. Platt is the real deal and challenges me heavily. Even if you don't read much, get this book.