Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Weekend... behind the curtain

I just got done looking over the spreadsheet for this weekend's attendance and as you probably know we are totally freaked out about attendance.  The space is so limited that we have asked parents of the kids in the performance to only attend one showing and have set up a separate reception/lounge for them during the other performances.  As of right now the Saturday night services is leading the way with many of our most faithful, giving the prime time slots to our guests.  The funny thing about this and it happened this way 2 years ago is that we were left with a room full of strangers during the late service on Sunday.  Nobody knew anybody, and I left thinking that they must think this is the most unfriendly church ever.  It was like throwing a party and only inviting friends who are not acquainted and then leaving the party yourself.  Ultimately God is in control, and we will trust Him with that...  I am excited to see what God does and I look forward to dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon and seeing the kids don their new t-shirts.  I wonder if many we realize the number of hours of hard practice that everyone has put into making this event one to remember..... I know God has been keeping track, and as pastor of this church I am grateful to everyone who has been working so hard.  Now, let's enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Looking Ahead

It is amazing to me that 2008 has already come and for the most part gone.  I don't want to rush into 2009, with the best days of 2008 still to come, but it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by all the excitement that lies in January of next year.  This month as we have been planning and preparing for the big move to the new auditorium, we are excited to see God working out every detail to His purposes.  We have placed the order for 200 new chairs and the money is in for all but 62 at the time of this post.  We look forward to seeing the people that God is going to sit in those chairs as He continues to use our church to reach this community with the good news of Christ.  The stage is being set for Cornerstone to reach new heights in 2009, as we continue to lift up Christ here in Four Corners.  Here are a few things to look forward to...

This Sunday
If you have been at Cornerstone for any amount of time you know that every weekend is a special event for us.  Our teams have been working hard to put together a service that will usher you into the presence of God and lead you to worship and know Him more than you have before.  We will be going in depth on the angels' announcement of "Good Tidings of Great Joy."

Christmas Weekend Services - December 20th & 21st.
We are planning the biggest Christmas event in our church's history and want you to invite your friends, family and neighbors to come and enjoy Christmas through the eyes of a child.  The program will include drama, music, sign language and even a performance by our new children's puppet team.  There will be three shows in all and we strongly ask that you attend only one show in order for there to be enough room.

December 27 &  28 - Ward Hodges
Our resident missions representative Ward Hodges will be coming to speak for us.  Ward is our representative with World Hope and as we prepare for our first ever missions trip to Nicaragua, Ward will share with us some of the amazing things God is doing through Hope.

January 3 & 4 - Gio Llerena - Major League Baseball Chaplin
I am excited to tell you that my good friend and Tampa Bay Ray Chaplin Gio Llerena will be with us.  Gio has a very special ministry to the players and staff of major league baseball and as the Rays are coming off their best season ever he will share with us the importance of teamwork and keeping our eyes on Christ.

January 10 & 11 - Annual Vision Meeting
Every year we set aside one Sunday to reorient ourselves to the vision God has given us as a church.  We will celebrate the victories of 2008 and look ahead to where we see God taking us in 2009.  This Sunday will amaze you, I promise.

January 18th - The Big Move
We are combining all three of our services on the 18th in order to celebrate our big move to the middle school auditorium.  Not only will our seating capacity triple, but every aspect of our church will take a giant leap forward.  If you regularly come on Saturday, nights we are asking that you find someone to switch shifts with you for this very special day.  We will follow the service with a dinner.

February 1 - Missions Trip to Nicaragua
We have a team from our church leaving just after the 10:45 worship service to head to Nicaragua for 7 days to work with World Hope to build outposts for the mission.  We will be having special dedication services this day as we commit to spreading hope to Nicaragua.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Get Jesus out of your yard and into your home!

Okay, here comes a rant, so be warned.  All over people are putting statues of baby Jesus all over their yards.  People I never see leaving for church on Sunday mornings have spent literally hours constructing a lean to in their front lawn to display a plastic Jesus.  I even read this morning how more people are installing surveillance cameras to catch "baby Jesus thieves" who like to collect lawn ornaments and such.  Now I am not a big fan of the  way that Santa and his shelf-elfs have taken over Christmas, and I do think the atheists need another season to claim as their own, but really, get Jesus out of your yard already!  Jesus did not come to this earth to lay in the manger for 2,000+ years.  Why do we insist on celebrating His birthday as if he was still a newborn.  I mean, I don't celebrate my wife's birthday by dressing her like a newborn and sticking her outside in the cold all night.  The advent of God coming to this earth is what we should be celebrating, not his birth, not the fact that he was a cute baby.  My Christmas wish is that all who want to celebrate Christ's mass (leaving heaven) would go to the Lord's house to actually spend some time with Him.  God forbid that we waste time getting plastic Jesus out of the attic, just to leave him out of our homes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who Am I Casting Crowns

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome Snowbirds!

Just in case you needed a reminder of why you live in FL.  Enjoy!  I look forward to seeing you at church this weekend, and yes flip flops will be in order for Saturday Night Service!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Church Advances as the World Retreats

One of the things that is obvious in almost every segment of society is the new value of security against global economic collapse.  The papers and news channels are full of stories of layoffs and pullbacks and every church I know of is bracing for this coming economic earthquake.  I have to tell you frankly that churches cutting back right now really ticks me off.  I know that the economy is crashing, and that people who tithe will have less to give, but our trust is not in the offering plate.  Right now, as the ways of the world display their lack of ability to meet the real needs of people, the church needs to advance.  It has been our message for years that people not put their trust in temporary physical things of this world, and to store up for themselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and markets do not fall.  Now is the time when many churches, rather than pulling back, need to move forward.  I am not suggesting that they blow the bank account, but the church of Christ is the medic that runs against the flow of the retreating army to meet the real needs of people who have been wounded on the front line.  Here are some things that we can do:

1. Teach "Koinonia" Fellowship - The church exists to meet the needs of the body.  This is the time when the people can come together an meet one another's needs.
2. Show Some Love - Benevolent giving should increase to meet the felt needs of the community with the hopes that they will realize their true need for Christ.
3. Preach Heaven - We are not of this world, and in fact we were created for eternity.  Preach about the need to know we have a home in heaven and how this world will not satisfy.
4. Teach People How to Live by Faith - They are ready to listen.
5. Missions - Recession in America means going to basic cable.  Show them the rest of the world.

Cornerstone, we refuse to run.  This economic downturn and fear of recession means that church becomes more important than ever in our community.  I believe that much of the numerical growth we have seen in the last month is due to people returning to God, and we as a church must and will be ready.  We will not retreat just because the rest of the world is, in fact we will advance.  I believe that these may be dark days for our generation, but our community has never needed the church and its message of salvation through Christ more.  We need all hands on deck as we move forward. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I was listening to a good friend, Paul Heier, speak recently and he said his favorite word of worship was "wow." Wow, is a word you say when words escape you or they can do little to express how amazed you are.  In worship it is a response to catching a glimpse of how Great our God is and sensing for a moment how much he does love us.

Right now we are experiencing a "wow" moment in the life of Cornerstone.  In the past few weeks God has been blessing our church and records are falling by the wayside.  What is amazing is that all the growth indicators show that we are just beginning a new stage of growth as a church.  Attendance last weekend was up to 222 from 202 the week before.  A jump of 20 in weekend attendance is not much, but compared to our October average of 175 we are excited to see 50 more people worshiping with us each week.  What is awesome is that small group attendance is the fastest growing indicator on the list.  We are excited to see new small groups forming and it is our goal for everyone to find a group.

Here is what this means for us as a church.  
1. We must all adjust.
     - We are maxing out the 10:45 service so that means come earlier and sit up front filling every available chair.
     - Some of you can make the switch to attend on Saturday night or to the 8:15 making extra room at 10:45.
     - The room will continue to be crowded until we can move to the other auditorium in January.
     - Things will be changing in 2009.  As the church matures, our body will develop and change. Always for the better!

2. We must all go deeper.
     - Everybody needs to belong to a small group.
     - As the church gets bigger, it MUST get smaller.
     - Authentic relationships do not happen in rows.
     - Church is designed for fellowship and that takes place in small group.

3. We must all pray.
     - No question, what is going on has its source in God.
     - This is not a result of anything we have done, but what God has decided to do in and through us.
     - As the church becomes larger and more complex, we need to rely on Him even more for guidance and strength.

4. We must all step up.
     - This is what we prayed for in our 2008 elevate campaign.
     - We must continue to elevate our giving and our serving.
     - Existing ministries are being taxed more and more and now more than ever we could use some help.
     - If you are not volunteering, we need your help in every ministry are within the church.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seriously Funny

What is amazing about this cartoon by John Bogenschutz is that nobody ever thought of this before!  What a great idea!  Life no doubt has its dangers and for many of us we are afraid to step out and follow God's leading, but He has promised the Holy Spirit to us.  The protection of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily mean that we will never face troubles in this life.  One look at the Apostle Paul and you can clearly see that his life was anything but "safe."  However, knowing that God is with us and that the Holy Spirit lives within us allows us to live lives in reckless abandon and supreme obedience knowing that we have something much better than a bodyguard.  We have a spirit guard!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seriously Funny

Christmas is just around the corner and we are excited to begin practicing for our special Christmas services on the weekend of December 20th and 21st.  I heard today that retailers are giving big discounts for the Christmas season, so I hope you will be ready for Christmas early this year, or if like some of my neighbors, you are ready for Christmas year round, all that's left is to plug in the string of lights permanently nailed to your roof!

Planting Churches Cross Culturally

I have been reading a book for my Master's work in church planting that I want to reccomend to all those who are planting churches.  Cross cultural church planting is in fact a reality for most church plants taking place in the US today.  Not only does David Hesselgrave give pratical insights, but the book os choc full of charts and forms that can be used to organize your new church.

Some take-aways....

1. Seven Steps ... Go where people are, preach the gospel, gain converts, gather them into churches, instruct them in the faith, choose leaders, and commend believers to the grace of God.

2. It is evident in scripture that God is interested in numerical growth, and one of the best measures of qualitative growth is numerical increase.

3. We need fellowship with, and the approval of, other humans.

4. Belongingness
     - Humans are social beings
     - God created a new society for the redeemed
     - In belonging to a church new believers have identity
     - Identification with the group, however, does not destroy individuality

5. True worship is prompted by disclosure of the secrets of the heart, detection of the presence of the Lord, and realization of accountability to God.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The 2008 election has reminded us of a valuable lesson.  Politics is sickening!  Last night President-elect Obama won the election by making no apologies for being the most liberal person in Washington.  In the end, the "Maverick" middle of the road guy lost.  As a pastor and conservative, I was never a fan of John McCain, and though Palin sweetened the ticket, I still felt she was the orange syrup they put in really bad medicine.  The defeat for the Republican party was in fact a victory for conservatives.  My fear when Bush left leading and started following, and his numbers fell, was that the Republican party would leave their moral conservative base in exchange for what has become known as "Fiscal Conservativism."  (I would rather lose an election than a political party.) The thought was that Christians care more about their pocketbooks than they do their Bible.  What is amazing to me is that in a year when Republicans lost heavily, the FL Marriage Amendment overwhelmingly won with 62% of the vote.  This is clear.  When you water things down and serve luke-warm ideas, people are not inspired, people don't campaign, people don't vote.  What we can learn as believers is that we cannot win the battle for souls by compromise.  Luke warm never works.  Look how Jesus states it in Revelation 3... " 15“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "

So the day after the election, I pray that Republican Party will be vomiting.  Now is the time for all of us to turn to Christ, and follow Him without compromise.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trunk or Treat

Last night we held our third Trunk or Treat event at the Four Corners Elementary School.  In short, it was the best event ever done by our church.  By the numbers we had 30 cars, 82 volunteers, plus 343 guests, and about 25,000 pieces of candy.  Though I took my camera, I did not take any pictures, but we have several capable photographers and Clark Kent was even spotted taking a few snapshots.  So many have asked who won the decorating contest, and for once I am glad I was not the judge.  So many of you went beyond the call of duty and really decked out the cars.  We will announce the winners in all three weekend services and award the big gaudy trophy in the world  to the person with the winning costume.  Please pray for those who were introduced to the church through the event and for those who received the gospel tracts.  It is our hope that this would be more than just a great evening, but the beginning of some life changing decisions.  Thanks again to all those who volunteered, and to all those who came out to participate!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Seriously Funny

One of the hardest things for us to realize as a church was to be content with the way that God has made us.  This Sunday we will be looking at how to have Joy in the face of Poverty from Philippians 4.  The lesson here is the same as in John Bogenschutz's cartoon.  God does not make mistakes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Partisanship is Key to Leadership

After we were married and before we had kids, Amy and I went out one Friday night.  Our plan was to try out this place we had never been, but when we got there it was obviously not what we thought so we both turned to each other for direction.  What followed was a series of "I don't care, you decide-s"   and "No you can choose-s" that eventually led to our biggest fight as a married couple.  I don't know what or if I even ate that night as we returned home.  Looking back, we laugh today at how silly that was.

My point is that not having an opinion means that you go nowhere, and from there, things deteriorate.  One of the things I hate about politics is that it is a scramble to appear centrist.  Candidates who represent far reaching ideologies put on the pretense that they are moderate, middle class types.  Frankly,  I get sick of the charade.

As a leader, I must realize that Cornerstone is counting on me to make decisions.  The organization needs partisanship.  Not everyone is going to agree with every one of my decisions as a pastor, but if my goal is to make everyone happy, then we will go nowhere, and eventually fight.  What is more, is that God has placed our church in this community to make a difference.  This task cannot be done while sitting on the sidelines waiting for "clear direction."

Imagine it's 4th and goal.  There are 6 seconds on the clock and the team is down by 5.  You have one play that will decide the outcome of the game.  Do you run or pass?  Frankly I don't know any better than you.  But you can't wait until you know for sure.  You must be partisan, pick one over the other and run that play with all you strength.  If you get in, you win, if you don't you lose.  But here is the kicker.  If you wait until you know which one will work, the clock will run out and neither one gets you in the endzone.

This week it is my prayer that everyone at Cornerstone will study the candidates, know the issues and cast your vote on Tuesday.  Politics aside, I believe in voting morality.  I will always base my vote on morality first, politics second.  I have already filled out my sample ballot.  On that are candidates of at least three different political parties.  Why should you vote morality?  Because  God, when honored, can make even the worst political decisions look brilliant.

Words of advice....
1. Liars can buy TV time too.  Know the issues.  Amendment 2 will not undo the domestic partner laws already on the books in the state of FL.  Vote yes on 2 to protect the distinction of marriage.

2. Judges are "non-partisan" so they don't show up on many voter guides.  you have to do some research to see who appointed them, and where they have sided on partisan issues.  I personally came to the place where I am voting to not keep any of the judges on my ballot.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BIG Money

Last night at our prayer meeting I found out that there is a group of ladies who are specifically praying for God to give us 9 million dollars for the next stage of ministry here in Four Corners.   I was amazed at the specificity of the prayer and its simplicity.    I remember the days of the $25,000 pyramid, and Wheel of Fortune's cry of "Big Money Big Money!"   One's idea of big money I guess changes with time and now I can clearly see God blessing our church with $9,000,000 and not blinking an eye.  As I was driving earlier this morning I began thinking about the faith of those ladies, and pondered where and more specifically how God will answer that prayer.  I truly believe that money does not grow on trees, but that God uses people to finance His work in our community.

What is amazing is that while we were not watching, God has already begun to answer that prayer.  to date, God's people have given almost $950,000 to this community through Cornerstone Baptist Church.  By January, that number will top 1 million dollars of ministry invested into this community!  I think that is stinkin awesome!!!  It is amazing to just pause and reflect on the goodness of God, and the faithfulness of His people.  Meeting in rented facilities, it may appear to some that Cornerstone is some minor player in church world, but if the last 6 years are any indication, the people of Cornerstone believe in giving of themselves for not only changing our community, but the world.  By the way,  every investor will tell you, the first million is the most difficult.  May we all stay faithful in our giving and in the use of those funds for the effective spread of the gospel around the world.

Seriously Funny

Again John Bogenschutz makes a great point about how easy it can be for people to misunderstand and misapply His commands.  Thankfully, God has given us His Word.  The Bible not only provides us with many great examples, but it also lays out a clear set of commands that we can follow.    Mark Twain rightly said "it is not the parts of the Bible that I don't understand that scare me,  it is the parts of the Bible I do understand that does."  There may be much of the Bible that we struggle to understand, but in the end, it is very clear and when we begin by faith to follow what we do know, God reveals the difficult passages to us as well.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Matt Staver Interview - Part One

One of my pastor friends, Greg Peters from Parkview Baptist Church in Palm Coast Recently interviewed Matt Staver, the author of Amendment 2, to show in his church. I hope you find this informative.

Matt Staver Interview - Part Two

One of my pastor friends, Greg Peters from Parkview Baptist Church in Palm Coast Recently interviewed Matt Staver, the author of Amendment 2, to show in his church. I hope you find this informative.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seriously Funny

Life is full of surprises, however many times there has been some level of warning that we have or have not thought worthy of our attention.  Here are some areas that we often ignore until the tidal wave comes....

1. Our personal life - this may be in our eating habits or other health issues that we pretend is not there.

2. Our finances - borrow, borrow, spend, spend, until the bills come.

3. Our Spiritual life - We put off accepting Christ, or living for Him, until one day when we will wish we'd all been ready.

4. Our Family Life - Neglected spouses leave, ignored kids move away, and the cat's in the cradle...

SO.... Here is your tidal wave drill!  And don't you dare hide under your desk!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Online Meeting Place

One of the things that fascinate me about today's church culture is that we are able to be so much closer to one another than generations past.  For instance, On Tuesday night I watched the Rays Baseball game with my brother and this morning I spoke to my aunt.  On the surface, that is nothing astounding.  However, I watched that game on my couch in FL and my brother was in Raleigh.  This morning I was cooking breakfast in FL and my Aunt was cooking supper in Cambodia.  Never before has the body of Christ had so much opportunity to be  in community with people who are not in our immediate community.

This week I built a facebook group for Cornerstone that will I hope be a place where we can connect with our mission pastors overseas, as well as many of the vacation home owners, and snowbirds that regularly visit from around the world.  I believe that this is an opportunity for our church to build life together in a way that does not require us to be in proximity in order to build one another up.  I want to encourage all who attend as well as all who love and care for our church to join this group and take a moment to give a brief paragraph of how you came to Christ.

From time to time we will post pictures of events, carry on conversations, and we may even plan an online Bible Study using this format in the future.  The Bible tells us to consider one another, how to stir one another up to love and good works.  This site will give us one more opportunity to be an encouragement, why don't you join the conversation.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I ran across this great toy called that takes a document and summarizes it in a beautiful word cloud.  I plugged in my notes from this past weekend's message and voi'la! If you were at church remember and enjoy.  If, you were not there, here is what you missed.  Click on the cloud to go to

Friday, October 10, 2008

Seriously Funny

My good friend John Bogenschutz is one of the most creative people in our church.  He is not only a good neighbor, but a great dad and has a daily comic strip that I truly enjoy.  In what I hope to be a series, John has given me permission to reprint some of his work on the blog.  I hope to take his humor and use it as an illustration of a practical thought for Fridays.  Enjoy! Think! Apply!

  :-) I think we have all been managed like this at one time or another.  Due to regulations and policies, good work is traded for mediocre. All of us have a tendency to micromanage people around us.
  This cartoon helps me to remember that God builds the church.  It is not my job as a pastor to complain about what I don't have, but to see the talent that God has placed around us, and let His people do His work.  I pray that Cornerstone is a place where people use their gifts, time and abilities to elevate Christ in Four Corners.  In the  end, the outcome will be so much better than what is probably chiseled on my pre-historic clipboard.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How Moving!

In the next 90 days Cornerstone will be moving from the Elementary Lunch Room, over to the Middle School. Community of Faith is completing their building and we are hoping to be moving in perhaps even before Christmas.
This move will be one of the biggest opportunities in the life of our young church. As you know, the 10:45 worship service has been pretty full and the ability to bring the whole church together ounder one roof has been impossible for some time. The new worship space will provide us with much more room to grow and expand while also allowing us to expand many of our current ministries.
There is no doubt that this move will present a number of challenges including additional set up and higher rent, but we know that hte benefits will outweigh the costs by far.
Here are some things to begin praying about. 1. Pray that God will allow us to be good stewards of the finances that he provides so that we can adequately absorb the cost of the larger space. 2. If you are not already involved in set up and tear down, come and join us either on Saturdays at 4:30 or on Sundays after the 10:45 service. 3. This move will allow us to take a great leap forward in our children's church. Be part of the team. 4. We will be raising funds this Christmas to make improvements to the way we turn the lunchroom into a sanctuary. (The Tabernacle Project Phase 2).
I am so excited for the opportunity that God has given us to meet at Four Corners. It is such a blessing to be able to minister right there in the heart of the community and I look forward to seeing what God is going to do through this new and improved worship setting.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

How to Give During an Economic Downturn

There is little doubt that people world round are suffering financially. I have talked with pastors all across the nation who have seen quite an impact on offerings, and on Tuesday, our staff sat down and cut a large chunk out of our budget as well.  Income is down, so naturally tithing will be down. 10% of less is obviously less.  Also, those who give to God out of their abundance is also going to be down.  We as a church know that for the foreseeable future, we will have less income with which to do ministry.  Now here is the good news.  God is not limited by budget constraints. So as a church we refuse to pull back from ministry.  We must do more with less and God is able to make that happen.  Individually, giving will require more faith.  Bottom line, faith is only necessary when things are bad.  I want to encourage everyone to remain faithful in your giving no matter what the economy does.  Giving comes in two varieties.  1. Our tithes - this is the standard amount that the Bible gives as an example of regular giving. As far as I am concerned this is a no brainer.  Failing to give back to God, this portion is something you should not do.  God can do more with 90% than you can do with 100%.  Be faithful.  2. Offerings.  Offerings are our way of showing God that we love him and that we are putting him first in our lives.  At Cornerstone, many give extra every week towards our land fund or towards differing missions projects.  Giving above and beyond takes a real step of faith, and the Bible is full of people who gave out of their poverty and God truly blessed it.  As a church we are exited about the economic downturn.  Churches exist to teach people to trust in God, and not to put their trust in the things of this world. It is our prayer that during these economically tough times that believers will increase their faith by continuing to give and that unbelievers will come to trust in God, rather than in the volatile markets.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Curiosity, Crisis, Cry, Convinced

Peter walked on water.  I really understand how, but I know why.  I mean who would not want to walk on water so when Jesus showed up Peter could not wait to try it out.  Curiosity was Peter's motivation.  People get into a lot of deep water through curiosity.  Curiosity has been the motivation to experiment with drugs, to flirt with the person who is not your spouse, to gamble all that you have just to satisfy your curiosity.  Curiosity is not evil, but it can lead to all kinds of trouble.  In fact, many who begin by following curiosity often find themselves in crisis.  Mortgage brokers and stock market gamblers did not know when to hold'em, and now we are in the midst of a national crisis.  Maybe you are caught up a crisis.  Peter's crisis came in the form of a quick sinking feeling.  Sinking feelings abound when crisis comes.   When curiosity turned to crisis, Peter cried out to the Lord.  No matter what crisis you are in today, you can cry out to Jesus.  And when you do you will find Him to be able to save you from that crisis. then and only then will you be convinced of ability to save you from your crisis.

Snuggie Blanket's for Would-be Monks

Have you ever wanted to know where you could buy one of those wonderful robes that monks wear?  Now, as Seen on TV anyone can own one.  Snuggies come in several colors and even have arms.  
"No more blankets for me.  
This Christmas, there will be Snuggies under my tree!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Political Fatigue and the Separation of Church and State

Lifeway, a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention is out today with an opinion poll on how political pastors should be in view of the upcoming election.  According to the poll the vast majority of people do not think it is appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates for public office during a church service.  Therefore I have elected to take a post and address the upcoming election and to discuss what I believe to be one of the most important elections of our era on my blog.
First, I do not and will not endorse a candidate for presidential office.  Any candidate fitting my approval are long gone.  However, I believe firmly that as members of a free society, we not only have a right to vote, we have a responsibility.  How dare we complain about the moral collapse of our society without lifting a finger to do anything about it.  More important than electing officials to temporary office, this election season we have a state amendment that will define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  I believe that this issues is critical to our state and to the ability of the church to continue to teach the Bible without fear of restriction and recourse.  Already in states who have adopted same-sex marriage, we see churches being taken to court and sued for preaching against homosexuality and other sexual sins.  When the State begins to legislate morality, the church will become an opponent of the state and suffer.  I want to be clear that, I do not want to suggest that by voting one way or another that we can enforce a morality on society,  God himself has chosen to give man free will to do what he desires, however every believer must accept his/her moral obligation to stand up on this matter.  I believe that due to the lack of a true conservative candidate on the ballot for president, that many Christians will see their trip to the polls as a waste of time, but the presidential election is not the sole issue on the table in spite of what the media may think.  In most elections, only 20% of the registered voters show up to vote.  The same percentage holds true regardless of involvement in church or not.  It is my prayer that every person I know will go to the polls to vote and that their vote will not be based on the economy or what Hollywood says, but on what they feel God would have them to do.  For more information or to get involved, please visit 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elevated Now What?

Last year this time we saw a very disturbing trend at Cornerstone.  Our attendance had increased from 2006 to 2007 by a whopping 1/2 a person for the month of August.  As you can imagine, as a church we were in a crisis.  We had done what is referred to in church world as plateaued.  All churches experience plateaus, but we knew that for us to stop moving forward meant that we would eventually slip back and not accomplish the mission that God has for us.  The decision was made for us to take decisive action and address the problem at hand.

One of the major steps we took was to totally change the way we do our worship services.  To this point we had been blending contemporary praise with hymns.  We moved to give people more options to worship God in a style that is most in line with their culture.  Second, we moved our early worship from 9:30 to 8:15.  Though this is a bit illogical, we had unintentionally de-emphasized our Small Group.  We moved Bible Fellowship to 9:30 and now people can worship on either side of the Small Group time.  This allowed us to continue to make Small Groups the center of church life.  Third, we introduced Saturday night worship.  This by far has been the most influential as in 9 months time this service has grown from 0-over 40 weekly.  Fourth, we stopped everything to emphasize Jesus Christ.  Chapter by chapter through the gospel of John in Church and verse by verse through the Gospel of Luke in Bible Fellowship was a bit all eggs in one basket, but the Gospel is a very capable basket.  Reminding ourselves that Jesus is first, is something every church should do regularly.

So.... Now we have come to the end on John, this Sunday concludes the Gospel of Luke, and for all intents and purposes we have to check the gauges and see what God has done.  The only thing that I can say is amazing!  Looking at our numbers from August 2007 to August 2008 we have grown by 52%.  That means that every week 57 more people are attending church, hearing God's Word, and growing in their faith.    this numerical growth is the direct result of spiritual growth in our leadership, and membership.  God is doing amazing things in our church and we want to keep the momentum going.

Now comes Fall 2008.  This Fall & Winter we will experience some of the most exciting opportunities our church has ever seen.
1. We anticipate moving from the Elementary School Lunch Room to use of the entire Four Corners Campus with the completion of Community of Faith's new church building.  Construction is well under way and by the end of the year they should move out, giving us the ability to expand from a lunch room fire rated to seat 108, into a room large enough to seat 276.  This being said, the door will be wide open for us to continue to grow right where we are planted.
2. Along with this, we will see our rent and facility related expense double.  With additional opportunity, comes added responsibility.  I say this to say, keep on giving.  I know that things are tight, but the work of God through Cornerstone is made possible by your giving.  Yes, God could have decided to provide for ministry through any number of ways but He chose to do His work through your giving.
3. Pray.  Pray that we would continue to keep our focus on the glory of God by elevating Christ, our level of service as well as our community.  Pray that God will enlarge our ministry to meet the growing needs of Four Corners.
4. Get in, sit down and buckle up! - God has some amazing things on the horizon.  As soon as we have taken the step into the new space, we will begin the process of taking Cornerstone's next step and that will be the purchase of property for a building of our own.  Right now we have over $100,000 in the bank, and are ready to make a down payment, but we will shift into high gear on identifying property and gaining a foothold. We also anticipate the ministries of Cornerstone to continue to expand as we continue to grow.  For the first time our church will be taking a missions trip together in January.  I cannot think of a better way to start a new year.  No doubt there will be some bumps along the way, but Oh what a ride!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Storms and Suffering

One fact of life is that like those in Galveston, we all will experience suffering. Storms are simply a fact of life.  The church in general tends to focus a great deal of attention on the therapy of suffering.  How do we meet the needs of those who are experiencing suffering and need help through troubling times.  Beneath the proper therapy of suffering, must reside a proper theology of suffering.  How should we as believers in a loving and all mighty God respond to suffering in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us.  This Sunday we will again turn to the Apostle Paul and his wonderful letter to the Philippians.  We will see that in the midst of great suffering, Paul was still able to live a life of joy.

  It is not rejoicing that we are suffering, but it is rejoicing that in our suffering that God is doing something great in us, and through us,  that we would know and trust love Jesus more, that other Christians would be compelled to be bold, and non Christians would come to hear the gospel, and that our suffering would not be purposeless but purposeful, that we would not waste our suffering but that we would seize the opportunity for Jesus to be made much of both in me and through me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Celebrating Recovery

In life as in football fumbles are made.  While making one's way towards the goal, you drop the ball.  Dropping balls is never part of the strategy of any team.  In fact, you will find that most teams devote great time and energy into not dropping the ball.  Typically when the ball is dropped, there is a scramble, followed by a dog pile.  The poor soul who dropped the ball is doing his best to recover, but everyone else is piling on.  At the bottom of the pile a battle rages as the one who dropped the ball fights to regain control.  If the opponent successfully takes the ball then he will celebrate.  But often, when the player recovers his own fumble, the rest of the team shakes their head, wipes their brow, and takes a breath.  Then the fumbler will hang his head, and trot towards the sidelines.  Though this is what often happens, this is not what should happen.  Recovery of any fumble deserves to be celebrated.  Winning a battle at the bottom of the pile is no easy task.  Sure, fumbles should be avoided at all costs, but when they happen and a recovery is made, the whole team ought to storm the field in celebration.

Tonight at Cornerstone we will begin to celebrate recovery with a new breakout group for those who battle addictions.  As far as I know, there are no such groups at all in Four Corners.  Tonight, for the first time, we will get to the bottom of the pile with those fighting to regain control, and we will cheer them on, and when they emerge with a recovery we will celebrate.  Then if they fumble the ball, or stumble and fall, we will come alongside them all over again, anticipating celebrating recovery.

Celebrating Recovery
Wednesdays 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Four Corners Charter Elementary School
For information, Call 888-836-7234

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No Business Being Here!

I once attended a meeting where there was no meeting.  Now before you jump to conclusions, most of those in the meeting thought that the point of the meeting was meeting.  There was no fighting over resources, there was little reporting of accomplishments, there virtually no planning for action.  Essentially, we had no business being there.  Unfortunately, churches can slip into the meeting for the sake of meeting.  Sundays come and go without the Services take place, ministries go through the motions.  One of the things I constantly have to fight against is doing things for while not considering WHY we do things.  It is too easy to get into a routine, a rut, to go through motions.  Activities, for activities' sake will kill any organization.  

Through this lens, a simple baby shower takes on purpose.  We are not getting together with friends, we are celebrating a new life with a working mother of two who works 12 hour shifts as an RN in ICU then comes to church to teach preschoolers about the love of God.

Through this lens we are not throwing a Jail House Rock party for the kids, we are sending 1000 invitations to local students and building a bridge that will transform their lives and make an eternal impact.

Through this lens we are not simply teaching theology,  but we are laying the ground work for a relatively  new believer to have a 2 hour conversation with a lost family member who is now seeking Christ.

Through this lens we are not having church, we are coming together as a believers to love and support one another through the temporary trials of this life and to provoke one another to love and good works.

The church has no business having no business.  There ought to be meetings today, where there is not enough money to accomplish the plans, there is not enough volunteers to accomplish the ministries, where there are competing groups who are passionate about reaching a common goal.

Today we had a great staff meeting.  Today, we looked again at why we do the things we do.  We cannot have church stuff for the fact that churches have stuff.  And by God's Grace, we won't!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fantasy Football

We had our FFL draft last night and I won.  You see for the last two years I have been the very last pick and this year I wasn't the very last pick.  I moved up 3 spots to #9!  I feel like a winner already.  All the top 9 Running backs were taken so I broke the ice on QB's with Peyton Manning.  Our theme verse will be Joel 2:6 ( I think I am the only person in any fantasy football league who has a theme verse) 

Joel 2:6 (NKJV) Before them all the people writhe in pain; All faces are drained of color. 

Here is my team....

QB - Peyton Manning (A bit of a gamble for first pick, but I have his jersey)
RB - Clinton Portis (The only Clinton I want to see in Washington)
RB - Maurice Jones-Drew (I thought only women used two last names)
WR - Torry Holt (oldie but a goody)
WR - Joey Galloway (Token Buccaneer, Plus he's older than I am)
TE - Jason Witten (Solid)
K- Adam Vinaterri (had him every year)
D - Pittsburg Steelers (Steel Curtain)

QB - Jake Delhomme (what's a little elbow surgery between quarterbacks)
RB - Fred Taylor (His arrest will go well with our Prison Break series at church)
RB - Jarrius Norwood - (he outperformed Turner on Friday)
RB - Warrick Dunn (Cat Fancy)
WR - Jabar Gaffney (I thought my cheat sheet said Jar-Jar)
WR - Isaac Bruce (He's older than me too)
WR- Bernard Berrian (Big Toe Berrian!  Go Vikes)
TE - John Carlson (Who?)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Brother's Keeper - I Saw Heaven

Gabe you got moves!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Miss Church this Sunday!

I am usually one for hype, but it has been a long time since I have been this excited about starting a new series.  This weekend we kick off a new message series on finding JOY in the middle of our struggles from the life of Paul as he wrote to the Philippians from prison.  As we will see,  Joy cannot be found in culture and religion or anywhere apart from a total surrender to Christ.   

God has been doing some amazing things at Cornerstone and we just stand in awe of how the church has grown in the last year.  To put things in perspective on the second to last Sunday of August 2007 we had 99 in attendance, last weekend we had 182!  To God be the glory!  We are gearing up for continuing this growth into the fall and internally have set a goal to get over 200 on Labor Day Weekend. (I guess it is external now)    So here is what we need you to do.  1. Don't miss for any reason,  The emergency room will make you wait anyway, so go after church!  2. Get everybody here, no runny nose excuses will be accepted. 3. Kidnapping is permitted.  Drag your neighbors and coworkers to church offer them candy, tell them we are giving away a big screen TV, (not really)  or offer to take them to lunch, but get them there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bigfoot Seen Fleeing as Hurricane Fay Approaches

Like it or not, our modern culture revolves around stories.  TV, movies, even the nightly news and the Olympic games revolve around the narratives we are so desperate to hear.  So what makes us believe the stories we hear?  Why do we want to believe some stories and ignore others?  This past week a story was told of a Bigfoot in the woods of northern GA.  Though most wont admit it, I believe that it was a story that people wanted to believe.  Those telling the story did a masterful job of pulling all the strings necessary to help us in our desire to believe.  Experts, testimonials, photos and the all important DNA evidence were brought before the ever discerning press.  Yet, in the end, the story now changes from the search for Sasquatch to a search for some story telling rednecks with nothing better to do who were willing to label themselves for life over a big prank.  This week, our favorite story is over the little storm that could, Fay.  Though she tried, she just did not have what it takes to make it to hurricane, but we want so bad to have a hurricane, because that makes for a great story.  No one wants to get on TV and say my home was destroyed by a tropical storm.  The guys selling T-shirts that say, "I Survived Fay" ought to pack them up right now and ship them to the orphanage in Africa.  I think we are smart enough to know now that stories are just that... stories. 
So what about the stories that matter, should we dismiss them all?  What about the story of Creation, the story of redemption?  Do we dismiss them too?  My answer is no, and this is why, at the end of the day we must take our stories and compare them to truth.  There is a vast difference between fiction and nonfiction.  We must discern what stories matter, and what stories are for entertainment purposes only. 
God said in Isaiah 1:18 "Come, Let us reason together says the Lord of Hosts."  God is a God of reason.  Therefore, His story will stand up to reason.  History is reasonable. 
Tonight we begin a new Bible Study series on God.  We will look specifically at the reasons for beilef in God.  In our study tonight we will see that belief in God makes sense because of the law of cause and effect as well as the law of order in our universe.  I would love to see every one of you there.  We are believers, but not without reasons.  Come reason with us tonight at 7:00 at the school.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doubters Welcome

I am currently reading a book for a course in theology in which the author seems to have written in fear that technology will somehow replace God in society.  His basic premis is that the further science progresses, the farther we drift from God.  This is a fear shared by many in Christianity that somehow, the more people rely on the knowledge of man, the less they will stand in awe of God.  I would submit to you that God is not intimidated by science, in fact, I believe he welcomes it.  Now more than ever man is pushing the limits of time and space and God continues to be there.  In a total turn around, I believe that the progress of science in our world will act as a smelting pot that will separate all the false religions and cults that are based on anything short of absolute truth.  God has always welcomed doubters.  God created us curious.  Science is in all actuality the study of God's omnipotence.  The only ones who should fear the truth are those who have something to hide.  This Sunday, we welcome all doubters to church.  Our study through John will bring us to Thomas' encounter with Christ and we will see how Jesus responds to those in doubt.  Make plans to come, and invite a doubter to come explore.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blogging Fast Ect...

A lot has happened in the last month, and I had decided to take some time off of blogging to get perspective on why or if I should blog.  Here are some of the decisions I worked through.

1. I do not want to blog, and fail to communicate.
 - no sense in blogging just to have a post for every day.
- I will not blog unless I feel I have something to communicate.
2. Blogging should be more about the reader than the writer.
- I realize that those who read the blog want to look backstage.
- So I will try to communicate more of what I am doing rather than what I thinking
3. Blogging can waste time
- I cut way back on the number of blogs I read.
- mostly now I just read friends' blogs and some of the filter blogs like MMI.
4. Blogging is valuable
-When done correctly, blogging effectively communicates vision
- Blogging brings people together

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

26 Cents and a Skinned Knee

At the end of the day many times we will look back to see what we have to show for it and looking back on yesterday, I can honestly say that all I have to show is 26 cents and a skinned knee.  However, results don't always show in the way that we would like them to and often the intangible exceeds the tangible.  We are on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach S.C. this week and it has been fun doing a whole lot of nothing.  Fun stuff, like sitting and staring at the ocean, and overeating, and watching movies we have already seen.  Boogie boards were on the to do list for the morning which explains the skinned knee, and yesterday Andrew and I went treasure hunting with a metal detector we borrowed from Intern Brandon.  I have never been so excited to find a quarter in my life, well, as far back as I can remember that is.  On Saturday I will hop a flight to O-town and be back in time for church. (as long as Bertha behaves)  But in the mean time, I have a deep discussion on some obscure topic to have with my dad, some small talk with my mom, and further attempts to gain the graces of a snobby 9 month old neice on today's list.  I will try to let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I am up in Nashville today with Gabe and Camp Electric.  All I can say is it is electrifying 24/7!  With 1,000 students and over 100 artists, it is non stop.  I am having a blast working with some of the top names in Christian music, and talking with people that people pay big money to hear.

             Five thoughts...

1. Gabe is amazing.  He not only has the best voice in Christian music, the dude is incredible on the business side.  I love to watch him work.
2. The Christian Artists here are more excited than the kids.  I think I even saw one ask a student for an autograph. :-)
3. These guys are real.  Christian Musicians often get a bad rap, but these are some of the most authentic and deeply spiritual people I have ever been around.
4. I don't work well on 5 hors *of sleep at night and the intensity of camp the other 27 hours of daylight.
5. The weather has been amazing.
6. The typical camp has one band and one speaker.  Camp Electric probably has 20 instructors, and 2 dozen bands. The logistics alone are mind boggling.

* Ironic how my typo ended up as exhibit A so I left it in and decided to show you.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Good Bye Bartletts

Today I say farewell to Mike and Susan Bartlett.  Our best friends from college will be moving back to NC after moving to FL 6 years ago to help us launch Cornerstone.  Our families have become so intertwined over the last few years that the idea of them moving still leaves knots in our stomach.  I know that they are following God's will for their individual lives and that make all the difference.  My son Andrew had a friendship with Brady that can only be compared to Jonathan and David.  There was a level of friendship achieved in the first six years of life that will no doubt last a lifetime. Abby and Bailey had a friendship that survived the rocky terrain of being girls and all the emotional ups and downs.  In their words "BFF."  We will miss you guys and are so thankful that you have placed yourselves strategically between both sets of grandparents.  God Speed Bartlett Clan, God Speed!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Camp Electric

The sign of a great leader is how well he leads in his absence.  Our worship pastor, Gabe Dunlap is at Camp electric in Nashville TN checking 1,000 students into their specialized worship band camp.  I am looking forward to spending a few days this week at the camp as well.  Last night Shane Gillespie, who usually plays bass, led worship and then rocked the house with Clay Crosse's "I Surrender All."  Wow!  it was a great service.  In addition we launched a small group Bible Study for Saturday nights that will meet at 5:45 p.m. and following the service one young lady told me she received Christ.  God is so good, and it is 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, and we get to do it all again at 8:15 with Ray Kness, and then at 10:45 with Shane leading. Please pray for me as I catch a red eye to Nashville tonight to meet up with Gabe.  Take some time to check out the website for Gabe's camp too and pray for the instructors and speakers.  It is going to be... (Scratch that) It already is an awesome week!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Disney Closes Nightclubs

The Orlando Sentinel has an article today announcing that Disney will close six clubs in Pleasure Island.  As a parent and a pastor in "West Disney" I could not be happier.  I have always wondered why the clubs existed smack in the middle of Downtown Disney and we would often have to choose where to go either to the Lego side, as my kids called it, or the Disney Quest side.  Rumors still float about the future of Disney Quest, but I applaud Disney for cleaning up its act by getting out of the club biz.  My friend Mark often reminds me that our goal is that one day Orlando becomes better known for Jesus than for Mickey Mouse, and thanks to Mickey, we are one step closer to letting all that "other stuff" stay in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Getting Things Done

My friend Ben suggested this book to me and I may be late to the parade, but this is one of the most helpful and easy to read books on organization that I have read. I like it so much that I went out and bout copies for all the staff, then ended up giving my copy away. I wish that they had built task management software to accompany the book's systems. You can find it here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update from Jeff and Heather Blum

Many of you will remember Jeff and Heather Blum, (They were our original singles ministry until they decided to turn it into a young married's class) Here are some pictures and an excerpt from an email.

Hello everyone, Just wanted to pass on a few quick photos of the kids and give an update from Missouri! Austin is almost 6 months now, sleeping for 10 hours at night now (so I'm feeling quite rested these days!) and rolling around lots! Maranatha now officially sleeps in a 'big girl bed' and we are working on the potty training. She has progressed passed the 'terrible twos' stage now and is so much fun to be around (oh, she still has her moments though!). I have been working on painting the house and it is begining to feel more like home. We like the area so far and are excited to get to explore it in the off season. Jeff's job is going well, although he is not near as busy so he is a little bored. It has not been to bad, time wise. He doesn't go in to work till 1pm on most game days, but gets home around midnight. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't not allow him to have Sundays off, so that has been a bit of a challenge for all of us, we miss that day together! We did make it to one road game with him (St. Louis), I think I'll wait till they are a few years older to try that again! This country girl doesn't drive in big cities so well! We miss our Florida 'family' tremendously, you are were such a blessing to us, thank you! I am able to travel to see family here though, and that has been wonderful! Maranatha loves, loves, loves her grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, it is so wonderful to see. So, on those days (and there's many) that I miss my friends, that keeps me going and reminds me why we left FL. Jeff has a few days off soon for All-Star break, we will probably stay close to home and enjoy some time as a family. We miss you all and hope everyone is doing well, would love to hear from you! Love, Jeff, Heather, Maranatha, Austin

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So Amy and I painted the house...

Friday, June 13, 2008


Let me tell you about my dad. He did not grow up in the same kind of home that I grew up in. His parents did not take him to church and pray with him and read the Bible. He came to know Christ as a kid, and proceeded to win his family to Christ. I am pretty sure he was not the best kid in Sunday school. He would probably tell you he was that kid the teachers prayed would stay home sick. He failed third grade, and once told me he spray painted his name on a neighbor's house. (Clearly not the wisest thing to do.) But, those failures have turned my dad into the greatest student I have ever met. His thirst for knowledge coupled with his love for God and personal integrity are amazing. Every morning, in fact probably right now as I write this he is studying God's word. We groan when he brings his books and laptop to the beach for vacation, but deep down we would have it no other way. His greatest joy in life comes from knowing just a little more about God and his word. He holds a Master's degree in Religion, and writes text books for fun. I can't begin to tell you how awesome he is. I am so proud of my dad, and all that he did for us kids growing up. I thank him for his unparalleled integrity, and honesty that he modeled for me. I thank him for turning our family heritage into a godly one, and now my kids know that their Papa, loves Jesus more than anything in this old world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lucky Number 13

Amy and I have been married 13 years and last night we went out to celebrate. The funny thing is that neither of us got each other a card. What we have learned in 13 years is that cards don't mean too much to each other and that our primary love language is quality time. Disaster was averted as we dodged tornadic activity on our way to the Polynesian Resort for dinner. It stopped raining just as we arrived and after a little window shopping sat down to Disney's Best Waiter, Ratana Morrow. We started with the Hawaiian bread and Macadamia nut butter and shrimp curry soup. Then he brought out their famous sticky wings followed by Macadamia nut & Chive Crusted Mahi Mahi and then Beef Teriyaki. He gave us both Leighs made with real flowers, and brought four different desserts White Chocolate Cheese Cake, Kilauea tort, chocolate dipped strawberries & Vanilla Ice cream. From there we went and sat by the water for the electric parade, took a boat ride over to the Grand Floridian for a walk, then back to our bench at the Polynesian to watch the fireworks over the water. What is the only thing that could have made the night better??? I guess Amy getting me a card. ;-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Krispy Kreme Employee Attacks Church Plant

Davenport FL. - Worshipers were gathered on Sunday morning for the 8:15 Classic Worship Service, and the Pastor, Joel Johns of Four Corners was delivering his message when he noticed through the back window that a car had entered the parking area long after the greeters who double as security guards had left their post. Worship Pastor, Gabe Dunlap went to investigate but upon his arrival he found 5 dozen Krispy Kreme Donuts and saw the suspect fleeing towards the parking lot. Unfortunately, distracted by the donuts, Gabe was unable to provide the Donut police with an adequate description. So far Cornerstone Church has been hit by the Krispy Kreme bandit twice in the last month. Parishoners speculate that the Krispy Kreme attacks may be in retaliation to an upcoming baptism service that has been titled "Dunkin' Baptism" in the familiar colors of "Dunkin' Donuts." Bill Alexander, a regular attendee at the church said, "I don't know how long I can hold out. The first time they attacked, I was able to resist the temptation, but each time it gets just that much harder." If you have information on the Krispy kreme Bandit, please contact the Donut Police at 1-800-000-0000.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Incredible Journey

Here is the Trailer for our Kid' Program beginning next Wednesday night.

The Pitch

Thursday, June 05, 2008

6 Ways Church planting is like School House Romance

1. Awkward - Church planters are so self conscious of how they are perceived. It is like junior high when every part of your body is out of proportion. You are so self conscious.

2. Check the box notes - Remember wanting to find out if that certain someone liked you so you sent a friend to give them a note with the optional check one at the bottom. Churches do this, but our friends are ushers and the note is a guest card.

3. Pick up Lines - Successful church planters have mastered the art of the pick up line. Here are some of my favorites translated for use by church planters...
A. What's your sign .... Translated...What's your church background - this one is a no brainer.
B. What's your major ... Translated.... What's your major... doctrine - helpful in determining soap box issues in prospective members.
C. I lost my number, Can I borrow yours - great for that follow up phone call.
D. Didn't we go to different schools together - Do you know pastor so and so...
E. If I could rearrange the alphabet I'd put U and I together - translated CHCH what's missing? UR.

4. The follow up phone call - In school you always wondered how long after the date to make the phone call, the same is true in church planting. You don't want to come across too eager, but then again, you want to let them know you enjoyed your time together. It should be pointed out that the phone call has two purposes... 1. To test the water of this fledgling relationship and to score a second date. In this case get them to come back.

5. Meeting the Parents - In church world we call this Family day.

6. Going steady - After securing a number of attendances, the time comes to pop the question. Do you want to join. Basically this is going steady in church lingo.

Then begins the courtship, but that will have to wait for another day...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thanks for Praying

Thanks to everyone for praying for Linda Dickey. She cam through surgery fine and is recovering. I am sure she and her family will be grateful for your continued prayers as she recovers.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Favorite Weekend Quote

Last week I shared a favorite quote. It was fun, so let's try again. My favorite quote this week is...
" I came to know Christ in 1978, I came to trust Christ in February."

Other highlights...

* Someone came to church for the first time after listening to our podcast for 2 years. - Wow
* Someone came to church for the first time after moving into a house with one of last Summer's signs in the front yard. - Cool

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oprah Winfrey: Jesus Did Not Come To Die On The Cross

Here is the video I referenced in this weekend's services for those of you who have not yet seen it. - Thanks, Joel

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Miss My Snowbirds...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ever Google Your own name?

I know it is a bit egotistical, but this morning I was reading some blogs and typed my own name into the search box. I always thought Joel Johns was a bit of a unique name but maybe not so. Did you know that...

  • "I" also work for Willow Creek Community Church.
  • Here is a picture of "me" with Charlie Hall
  • Here is the bio from "my" Internal medicine practice in Chattanooga
  • Here is my page from when I was a rocket scientist in Clearwater
  • Here is the "me" that beat me to the .com web address Whoa....
  • Here is where "I" produced a death metal song for the French version of headbangers ball
  • Here is "me" on the bio page of my web design company
Back to reality..... Here are some strange things, I notice that 2 of these six are in the music industry. The other strange thing is that I used to live in Chattanooga and in Clearwater. Now, I wonder if people who knew me then think I grew up to be a Doctor or a Rocket Scientist? As far as the Joel who beat me to the .com web address, well he looks like he could use a few in the win column. GO Bengals!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Swarm Theory and Church

Scientists have been studying swarm theory for many years, and today I came across this article dealing with how they are now applying that same theory to human behavior. I want to ponder some of the conclusions they came to and apply them to our church experience.

  1. Harmony – Swarms are such because a group of birds or bees or fish find benefits to harmonious relationships. Church has been likened by some to a herd of porcupines, but Jesus still thinks of us as sheep. I like that.
  2. Instant Messaging – Under this heading National Geographic gave three simple rules. (referring to a school of fish)
    1. Stick together – I know this because when we would fish for Mahi-Mahi in the Keys growing up, you always left one fish on the line until another was hooked. The school had a no fish left behind policy. I wish our churches would learn that.
    2. Avoid collusions – I am sure that in every situation, collusions happen. But they should be avoided at all costs.
    3. Swim in the same direction – Kind of a no brainer, but how often do we see churches divided over individuals expressing themselves, rather than expressing Christ. For this purpose we strive to get every newcomer into a 6 week “who we are” class so they can opt in or out.
  3. Natural Leadership – Under this photo researchers state that wildebeests “may be able to follow a migration route even if only a few of them know the way, … Never mind that the informed animals aren't trying to lead. The rest follow anyway.”
    1. What many believers fail to realize is that they are leading people. Even if they do not try to lead, others take cues from them. Some ways that happens in church may be…

i. Evangelism – You may be the only Bible some people read.

ii. Attitude – Bad attitudes in church are very contagious, by the way, so are good ones.

iii. Worship – One of the best ways to arrive at a place of worship is to realize that others around you are worshipping. I am not saying that we close our eyes and raise our hands for show, but when someone observes it in authenticity, it definitely transfers.

iv. Generosity – Have you ever been to a fundraiser where some guys got into a bidding war over a cake. Duncan Hines box cake sells for $50. Why? Because of natural leadership.

Well, that is all I have time for this morning. I will try to do a few more later this week. I’ve got a high level meeting with some other pastors this AM. We have an 8:30 appointment with God, that I cannot miss.