Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Philip Nation on How we do email completely wrong.

Email is a normal part of my everyday life. It is for many of us. It is a tool that can be a huge help. But, if executed poorly, email is a great weight dragging you to the depths of productivity oblivion. The reason is summarized by a great observation that my friend and LifeWay colleague Brian Daniels has made, “Anyone with an email account is your boss.” It would be funny if it were not true.

10 things you could’ve done this morning if you had gotten up early.

You were going to get up early today. Instead, you stayed up late last night. Now, after resetting your alarm twice, you are rushing to get out the door. What could you have done if you had gotten up early today?

Ryan Kearns on 4 ways small groups can work with the sermon (this is why our MC’s study the sermon).

Ministry is really hard. But sometimes we make it harder on ourselves by not having our core ministries working together. A preaching pastor can find himself wishing for a deeper impact and application of his sermon than just what happens on Sunday morning. On the other side, a community group leader can suffer from a lack of focus and direction and bear the constant weight of preparing multiple curriculums.

Carlos Whittaker on How to avoid the monday morning hangover for church staff.

5 ways to stay productive if you work from home.

The work from home lifestyle is certainly not for everyone (especially those that thrive on day to day interactions with coworkers), but if you have a job where working remotely is an option, here are some tips for keeping you productive and happy.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Serving Like Jesus

Made for Glory

All of us want our lives to matter. No one wants to go through life unnoticed and not be remembered.

The problem in our culture is that we often have the wrong idea about how to live a great life, to be noticed and remembered.

We want to get to the top instead of being left at the bottom. We want to be the most important, the guest of honor instead the one serving in the background.

For Jesus, greatness is upside down from how we often think of it.

This Sunday at Revolution Church we’ll uncover the glory we were made for and how to get there. The answer is through serving like Jesus. 

I’m excited because we will have a special guest preacher, Seth McBee. Seth is an entrepreneur, an author, a church planter, president of McBee Advisors, Inc as well as a missional community leader/trainer/coach and executive team member of the GCM Collective.

This is an important Sunday at Revolution if you’ve felt like your life should be more than it is or if you’ve wondered how to make an impact in the people around you. 

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

Be Simple

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. Yesterday we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Today I want to talk about something I mentioned yesterday but is critical to who we are as a church and I believe, why we are effective. And that is be simple. 

One of my first jobs was on staff as a student pastor at a church in Wisconsin. It was a church of 1500 people and I remember sitting in a meeting soon after I took the job and the Executive Pastor with a huge smile on his face said, “A family could be at our church 7 nights a week.” No one said anything. Finally I asked, “Is that good?” You would have thought I just questioned an agreed upon theological stance. I got looks that said, “Are you crazy? How do you not see how great that is?”

I then read in a book about the difference between the home pages of google and yahoo. Did you know that each month 88 billion searches are done on google and 9.4 billion are done on Yahoo? Think about the difference of their pages and how crowded yahoo is compared to google. One is simple, one is cluttered and busy. One helps you accomplish what you need, the other makes you guess as to what is important.

In America, there is a desire many churches have to make sure you never have to go anywhere for anything else. We have coffee shops, bookstores, sports leagues for kids, sports leagues for adults, groups for every need imaginable. Now, I’m not saying any of these things are bad or wrong. What I am saying is that by having as many ministries and programs as the average church has, we make sure none of our people have time to hang out with people who don’t know Jesus. If you are at church 3-4 nights a week, when will you spend time with your neighbor or co-worker who doesn’t know Jesus? Probably never.

To accomplish the goal of helping our people live on mission, we have intentionally chosen to be simple. To do two things as a church: A worship gathering and missional communities. Often in churches, people aren’t sure what is the most important thing. Should they join a class, a men’s group, a women’s group, a small group. We took the guessing out of it and said, we want you to do two things. And if you do these two things, we believe you will take the next steps in your relationship with Jesus.

This also helps families not overload their schedule with things so they can have family nights, date nights and family dinner together and do family devotions together. This also helps people to be on mission in their neighborhoods or workplaces. It also clarifies for our church what the win is. Everyone knows what the most important things are at Revolution because we only have two things.

Get the Men, Win the War

big-small-vector

Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. Yesterday we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. Today I want to talk about the value of Get the men, win the war.

Every study says the same thing: the person least likely to attend church in America is a 20-40 year old man. Because of this, when we started Revolution we sought out to reach that guy.

This all gets down to target. Every church, regardless of size, location, history, how long they’ve been in existence has a target. Every church wants to reach everyone, but every church can’t reach everyone.

Let me give you an example: depending on the time of your service, the music you play, the style of preaching, the dress of those who attend, if you do sunday school or small groups, if you have a student ministry. All of these factors will determine who will attend your church. Many churches are not intentional about these things, they just do them and their target becomes who is already there. If you want to know who your target is at your church, simply look around and see who is there, that’s your target.

We decided from the beginning, we would choose our target, understand them, their questions, their needs, what keeps them from following Jesus, how to best help them follow Jesus.

Make no mistake. Revolution Church wants to reach as many people as possible. We love 60 year old men, 50 year old women and 30 year old women and want them all to find Jesus, but everything we do has to answer this question: will that reach a 20-40 year old man?

This isn’t just a question about target. Our culture has no idea what it means to be a man or a woman. In fact, just this week there was a story about a class offered at the University of Arizona on fatherhood that has a waiting list. Our culture wants to know and they will go anywhere to find answers.

Here are some ways you see this at Revolution:

  • Our name is Revolution. We intentional chose our name to be a name men would be intrigued by. I can’t tell you the number of men who have said, “I was looking online for a church and your name made me stop and I knew I had to check it out.” Just the other day a guy told me, “I wasn’t excited when my wife said we were going to church, but when she told me the name was Revolution I thought, it can’t be that bad with a name like that.” Our name not only describes what we believe Jesus started, what we are called to in our culture, but one that men don’t see as a roadblock.
  • We create family devotional questions. Men are called to lead their families and pastor them well. Most churches heap this on men with a side of guilt and shame. Why do men feel this way? They don’t know how to do it. Many have never seen anyone do family devotions, let alone come up with what to do during them. So, we create simple guides for men to use with their wives and kids. Instead of saying, “You should do this and good luck.” We create them and say, “You should do this and this will help you accomplish it.” Make no mistake, if men think they will fail at something, they usually won’t try it.
  • We challenge men to be who they are called to be. This goes with the last one, we unashamedly challenge men and women to be who God created them to be. We believe Scripture calls men to lovingly lead their homes, to serve and pastor their wives and kids. To have integrity in dating relationships. That women were created by God to help their husband and support him and respect him. I preach about this at least once a year. Ironically, this is the #1 reason people have started attending Revolution. Why? Our culture wants to know what it means to be a man and a woman and the media, TV shows, movies, books and magazines give empty answers. It usually boils down to sex, but Scripture gives such a fuller picture. Teaching men and women how to communicate, how to have friendships with integrity, how pursue your wife, how to date with integrity, how to fight well, how to achieve oneness in marriage (outside of sex). To get an idea of how we talk about this topic at Revolution, listen to the last sermon I gave on the topic
  • We are simple. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow, but we do 2 things at Revolution: Sunday morning and Missional Communities.
  • Our missional communities have end dates. Men like end dates. Our culture does as well. School ends and has its cycle of life. Men don’t like to enter a group setting that is meeting until Jesus returns. Now, my missional community friends will say, “We are family and family never takes a break.” That isn’t true. Families take vacations, parents go on getaways. Extended families don’t see each other every day or every week. So, it is possible to be family in an MC without meeting officially every week as an MC. We used to meet forever and men were scared. You could say, “Well that is an idol that needs some gospel truth.” That may be true, it may also just be how men are wired. So, we moved to having end dates. Men are willing to try something with an end date, something that has a way out that isn’t awkward if they don’t like it. It is easier for us to say to a man, “give this MC a try, it lasts until _________.”
  • We don’t have a women’s ministry (or a men’s ministry). I’ve blogged about this a lot and we get this question from women who come from a churched background. Churches that have women’s ministries often communicate to men, “You aren’t needed.” Think about it like this: a woman goes to her women’s bible study. She gets her relational fill, she is doing her Beth Moore bible study each day and growing. What is her husband doing? In the average church, nothing. He isn’t needed. She is getting all that she needs. As a couple, she is now growing faster than he is and they are growing apart spiritually. This happens more often than pastors want to admit. If you don’t believe me, ask most men why they aren’t leading their families and they will either say: I’m not needed or I don’t know how. Then, many pastors aren’t willing then to challenge men to step up and the cycle continues. We believe, the family should be split up as little as possible in the church. Now, when a woman in an MC says, “I’d like to have more.” We encourage them join an DNA group (accountability) or go to MOPS or a bible study at another church.
  • We preach through books of the Bible. Many men don’t know where things are in the Bible and they don’t know how to read it. By preaching through books of the Bible, men get confidence in the Bible and their ability to understand it. They begin to learn where Jonah and John are in the Bible. They begin to see how things fit together. When you jump around and preach from 10 verses from 10 different books of the Bible, you communicate to your church, “You can’t do what I do.” When you go through a book of the Bible and show your church how it unfolds, they start to think, “I could pick that out if I read my bible on my own.” Men also like to see a larger story and how things fit together. They also like preaching on hard topics. When you preach through books of the Bible, you can’t skip sections, you have to preach every page.

Practically for Revolution, this means we are always asking the question, “Will this help us reach 20-40 year old men?” We’ve learned if you answer that question, women of all ages like what you do. As every church has learned (because 60-70% of church attendees are women) men do not like everything that women do.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • So excited
  • After 4 weeks off from preaching at Revolution Church, I am working on a sermon
  • In reality, I’ve worked on sermons in the last 4 weeks, but those are all in the future at Revolution
  • So it feels good to work on a sermon I will preach soon
  • It’s been great to work ahead, spend time evaluating our church from all angles with some leaders and looking ahead
  • Chris Gonzalez, a fellow Acts 29 pastor came down from Phoenix yesterday to preach and did a great job
  • Love that they are working through John the same time we are so he could serve our church in this way
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • We announced yesterday that we will begin sign-ups for our missional communities on July 28th
  • So excited for them to get back up and running again
  • One of my favorite parts about taking a summer preaching break is the extra time I have to read and learn about leadership and preaching
  • For me, that is one of the big blessings of it
  • I’m not sure about you, but I’m ready for football season to start
  • Can it please be September!
  • This summer I’ve done some reading on automating your life and leadership and doing less
  • Definitely something I need to get better at and the steps I’ve taken have been huge
  • Katie and I have been talking about things we can automate or stop doing in our family life and it has been incredible to see the change
  • As we get better at it I’ll blog on it
  • I think that might be a need for a lot of people
  • Say a prayer for us as a family as there is a chance we will be traveling to Ethiopia this week to meet our son who we are adopting
  • It isn’t for sure, but it looks more and more likely
  • Unfortunately, it will be a last minute trip, which is just adding to the stress in my life
  • I keep repeating: God is great, so I don’t have to be in control

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

  • What a day yesterday at Revolution
  • The first week of Meaning was incredible
  • So many guests yesterday
  • I had a couple of friends come yesterday that God is definitely working on
  • Love seeing the gears move in people’s heads and hearts as the gospel takes root
  • We had our highest non-holiday attendance yesterday for the past year
  • Crazy how God is working in the lives of people
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • We’re having a baptism next week and I’m blown away by the stories of redemption that we’ll hear as people take the next step of publicly declaring their faith
  • Yesterday we kicked off sign-ups for our new spring missional communities that are launching at the end of month
  • Stunned by how they continue to grow and how God continues to use them
  • Can’t believe we will have 10 of them
  • Jared shared about his MC yesterday and how they were able to work with office depot to give over 1400 dry erase markers to Magee middle school
  • Office depot dropped over $1,000 off the price
  • Can’t wait to hear how the teachers react
  • We have another home study today for our Ethiopian adoption
  • It’s been almost 3 years that we’ve been in this process
  • Definitely teaching me endurance as we wait
  • Always makes me wonder why it has to take so long
  • Started a great leadership book yesterday
  • Read great reviews about it, so I’m excited about the angle
  • It is about why what the leader believes is the most important part of the leader
  • Definitely a different take on leadership
  • Next week at Revolution I’m teaching on a topic I’ve never preached on: handling boredom in our lives
  • Everyone is bored, we all wish we had someone else’s life, so we’ll see what the gospel has to say about that
  • Should be fun

[Image Credit]

What is a Missional Community?

A Missional Community consists of a committed core of believers (FAMILY) who live out the mission of God together (MISSIONARIES) in a specific area or to a particular group by demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms (SERVANTS) and declaring the gospel to others, both those who believe it and those who are being exposed to it (LEARNERS).

To clarify, a Missional Community is NOT primarily a small group, Bible study, support group, social activist group, or weekly meeting.

Family

When you think of a family that is working biblically, what things come to mind? They spend time together, they laugh, they cry, sometimes they rub each other the wrong way, the lean on each other, rely on each other, they eat together. The main idea? They are together. In a missional community at Revolution, we make a commitment to be with each other, to spend time together. Whether that is a game night, on a holiday, after church, watching a game, seeing a child’s play. They are together. They schedule regularly to be together, to make each other a priority, to include each other in their lives. If someone has a need in a missional community, the family comes together to meet it.

Missionaries

A missional community is on mission together in a specific area or a particular group of people. That might be a school, a neighborhood, international students, teachers, single mom’s. Together as a missional community, they seek to be the gospel to a particular group or area. Answering questions like:

  • What truths of the gospel do they need to hear specifically? (The gospel is the same for everyone, but different people need to hear specific parts).
  • What are some barriers to the gospel to this group of people?
  • Where do they spend their time? What do they do with their time?
  • How can we include ourselves in what they are doing on their turf?

A mission should not be anything new to your life. Too many people miss this and then burn out. Your mission should be something you already do, a place you already spend time. Before embarking on a mission as a missional community, make sure you already do the mission you are heading into. As a leader, you simply want to invite people into something you are already doing.

Servants

Each missional community then looks at their mission and determines how to serve together to fulfill that mission in their world. They also make commitments and seek ways to serve on a regular basis together and in everyday ways on their own. Their time together is then a celebration of what God has done throughout the week and the ways they’ve partnered with Him in their world.

Learners

Followers of Jesus grow and mature in their relationship with God. The goal of a missional community is not to simply study the Bible, but for the Bible to change us. Questions we often ask about a passage:

  • What does this passage tell us about God? What characteristics do we see about Him in this passage? Why are those important?
  • What does this passage say about humans in general? What does this passage say about me and what I’m like?
  • What does this passage call us to?
  • Why do we need Jesus to fulfill the call this passage has placed on our lives?

Why They are Important at Revolution Church

If you don’t get into a missional community at Revolution, you’ll miss some of the best parts of Revolution. This is the space where discipleship, mission, shepherding  care and community happen. This is where life happens. This is where counseling is able to take place in the context of relationships. Discipleship happens in the context of being a part of each other’s lives.

This is also the step of “membership” at Revolution. While we call it partnership because member sounds like a golf club. Each year, those in a missional community create a covenant together, that they sign. This covenant not only lays out what a particular missional community will be about, how they will live out their mission and the identities, there is also a piece of it that each person makes a commitment to Revolution Church at large. By “re-upping” each year instead of a once and done approach, this allows us to have more accountability. Every year, we commit to a group of people and to the church, once again saying, “I’m in.”

If you aren’t in a missional community or have questions about how we do them at Revolution, please contact Mike Miller.

Living out the Family Identity

We talk a lot at Revolution about our identity in Christ and what that means. One of the identities we seek to embody in the life of our church and our missional communities is the identity of family. This one can be the toughest to figure out because we simply think of the family we had growing up and either try to be that or the opposite.

One thing I think is easy to do in the name of family or community is in the area of sharing things and how we listen. I think it is easy to listen to someone vent and then be done and say, “Look, we’re being family, they had room to share.” That’s only part of it and I think if we stop there, we fail as family. Family then has a responsibility to appropriately challenge that person with the gospel. To ask why they are reacting that way, what their sin in the situation is, what they are believing about themselves, the other person they vented about and God. What does the gospel have to say about all of those answers?

If we stop at simply listening to someone, we fail them and the rest of our missional community family.

Here’s how. We don’t give them an opportunity to grow, we miss an opportunity to grow in how we talk about the gospel and challenge people with it, our MC misses seeing it happen, they miss hearing the gospel and its implications for someone’s life.

Question: What is the hardest part of living out the family identity in community? I’d love to hear thoughts. 

This Weekend @ Revolution || More than You can Imagine

Hard to believe that we have been meeting at Magee for 5 weeks, but each week feels more and more like home for us. Each time I go there, I think, why didn’t we do this sooner. God has been so gracious to us since we moved in and I know that will just continue.

  1. This week, we are continuing our series Image is Everything and we’ll be looking at Ephesians 3:14 – 21 if you want to read ahead. We’ll be looking at how God’s love, plan and power are greater than we could imagine. 
  2. If you haven’t signed up for a missional community, you can do so here. They all kick off next week around the city. Some of them are full, but there is still space in many of them. We say it all the time, if you aren’t in a missional community, you are missing one of the best parts of Revolution Church. I’m excited to hear all the reports of what God is doing in our city through our MC’s in the coming weeks and months.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference)

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am

See you on Sunday!