Not an Afterthought

This was originally written by me for the Wellspring Church blog at wellspring.one posted on December 27, 2018.

I started a challenge in the beginning of 2018 to read the entire Bible in a year. I downloaded a helpful app, purchased a new notebook, and started a routine. Well, it’s December 2018 and let’s just say I’m beeeeeeeeehind. Do you know what you have to do when you try to read the entire Bible in a year? You have to actually read it, like all of it. The parts with all the old laws that I don’t understand and then when you get past all that and into the prophets, and battles, and kings, you hit rewind when you get to the book of first Chronicles. It’s literally a history of all the stuff you’ve just read! And, it begins with genealogies. Genealogies are the worst.

But, I’m a big girl with a goal, so I read it. I read all eight chapters of genealogies. It took me until chapter seven to realize the power in the list of names that I was reading. This book would have been read to Israelites after they returned to Jerusalem after being exiled. Who were they now? This book reminded them of their history. With each long list of names I struggled through reading, an Israelite would have heard their family name, would have recognized themselves as a part of God’s plan from the beginning.

I like to imagine that as each family name was read out loud the families in attendance would holler and clap like we do today when we hear our college alma mater or a musician shouts out “How you doin’ New Jersey?”. It probably didn’t happen like that, but hey, who knows?

They were able to connect their identities back to God. God had included them from the start. He had a plan for them. It’s powerful to be reminded that we were always a part of God’s plan.

“God had included them from the start. He had a plan for them.”

When you read the Bible or hear stories from it, do you hear your name? Are you able to see how God has included you from the beginning? Are you the tax collector who takes advantage of his position and robs the weak? Are you the woman or man caught in the act of cheating on your spouse? What about the person who has spent years attacking God and those who believe in him? Are you the person who grew up in a Christian home but when things got uncomfortable you denied even knowing Jesus? What about the person who sees the acts of God right in front of them but continues to doubt and question, are you that person?

These people we read about in our bibles were very real, but they are also very us. Jesus interacted with all kinds of people. Different races, gender, socioeconomic status, and marriage status because he is for ALL people. We, you and I, have been written into the very history of Jesus Christ. We are those people.

Do you know what Jesus did with those people? He showed himself to them, welcomed them in, forgave them, and then used them to build the church, change lives, and spread the message of true love around the world. He offers the very same thing to us.

“We are the movement of his Church. We are not an afterthought.”

Do you recognize yourself as part of God’s plan from the beginning? When questions arise in your mind about your purpose, your identity, your heritage, your history, your legacy, remember that God has already told us the answers. We are children of God, intentionally made and crafted. We are the movement of his Church. We are not an afterthought. We are a part of his family. We are a part of his plan and have been since the beginning. Embrace it, walk confidently because of it and the next time you read a genealogy in the Bible, remember, that’s your name too.

Creatives: Better Together?

creatives

Right in the middle of church planting, that’s where you find me. Just weeks away from launching a new church in Toms River, New Jersey. Along with everything else I’ve learned and experienced through this time I’ve noticed a lack of resources and conversation when it comes to creative meetings. While there are some amazing resources for the individual creative ( The Creative Pastor and CRTV Church are awesome), I’m referring specifically about Creative Teams and how they work. Whether in a business context or within the church, the idea of Creative Teams has been getting more traction lately. Let’s talk about it.

For our church a Creative Team is made up of individuals who meet as needed to go over BIG PICTURE ideas, not the nitty gritty details. We hear what the Pastor will be preaching on and spend some time thinking about the overall theme, how we can create a series around the major theme, the visual artwork that accompanies it, and one major wow moment that will happen in that series. If someone can’t remember exactly what the Pastor said, but they can remember one “wow” experience, use that to jog their memory.

Who is on the team?

Lead Pastor, Worship & Weekend Experience Leader, Communications Leader (also happens to be our Production Leader), and two church volunteers. One of the church volunteers is a constant team member, the other spot we rotate out each meeting and add someone different. Find people who aren’t afraid to share ideas and who aren’t easily offended when their idea isn’t used.

When does the team meet?

We are trying to be a season ahead of schedule. For example, we met in January to discuss Easter and a sermon series happening in May. Each major holiday gets its own meeting and so does each series. Based on this concept, you only need to meet as many times as your Pastor changes his series. For some churches it could be 5-6 times a year, for others more like 9-10.

Why a Creative Team?

This part can get real personal to each church or organization. Acknowledging that each place is different I will move on to some basic reasons that I think can relate to everyone.

  1. Visuals: Seriously. Each day our communication is done more through pictures and emojis than we probably realize. If a post doesn’t have a picture attached to it, does anyone read it? I don’t know but it’s worth thinking about. We share images to reflect how we are feeling, what we are experiencing, and of course what we’re eating. Taking some time to think about the artwork that may accompany your teaching is time not wasted.
  2. Stories: Stories help us learn and remember. Throughout the Bible we see parables and sharing of stories to help the people listening really understand what Jesus was trying to teach them. When working on a Creative Team you are helping to ultimately create a story with the goal that your church will leave not only remembering what it is they learned, but be able to apply it to their lives and share it with others.
  3. God: He is the ultimate Creator. God created everything…. everything. It’s in His nature to create, to allow new things to bloom and to remove things that are no longer needed. He could have chosen to leave everything one way, never having them change, but He didn’t.
  4. Fun: Church should be fun.

 

Have you tried Creative Teams at your church or organization? How’d it go? Can you do this without a team? Who is on your team? Share in the comments.

Upcoming: How we run Creative Meetings. Games/Brain warm-ups we play. What is a WOW moment? Subscribe to be one of the first notified when new content comes out.

 

Prepping for the Promise

prepping

When I was in college down at Florida Atlantic University I was horrible at studying. By horrible I mean I never did it. Actual studying consists of consuming and reviewing new knowledge over increments of time. Who has time for that?! I was incredible at cramming everything in the night before and sometimes even the day of. I would try to figure out the most important ideas, grab better notes from someone else in the library, and ultimately fake my way through it. If passing college classes is what I had to do to prepare for my future, I was amazingly bad at it.

For most of us preparation equals stress. In all areas of our lives we need to prepare; work, school, parenthood, leadership, ministry, coaching, marriage, etc. In all those areas stress can get added to our preparation. We are uncertain of the outcome and some of us force ourselves to cram in every nugget of information  [insert the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book here] while others get so overwhelmed that they throw their hands up and cash out.

I’ve been reading my way through the She Reads Truth reading plan for the Bible in a Year, which means I’ve spent a lot of time lately in Old Testament books like Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. [For the non-Bible readers, these are the books with all of the commands and instructions, and pretty much no one jumps there for a good daily inspirational reading.] In these books we see the Israelite people get constant instruction from God regarding how they are to worship Him, celebrate, cleanse themselves, basically live, etc. In the same books, over and over again we see the Israelites mess up, breaking God’s commands.

The people of Israel were so stuck in their current situation (wandering around the wilderness) they couldn’t see that in the midst of it, God was preparing them for the promise. The promise in this case was land, a special place for the people to call their own. In these books God doesn’t say “If you make it to the land do this….”, He says “When you get there….” God knew the plan and promise He had for His people. He also knew they weren’t ready yet to receive it and would need some prepping along the way.

Is He prepping you along the way right now?

Sooner than later I will be taking the biggest and riskiest step in faith I have ever taken; leaving my established home church and helping launch a church plant in Toms River, NJ where I will be leading worship. Terrifying. Exciting. Unqualified. Sufficient. The mix of emotions is intense and real. My pattern of “cramming for exams” will not work in this situation. However, I have been given a promise. It is written that those who take delight (follow, love, trust, walk with) in the Lord will be given the desires of their hearts. That’s a promise. Never in a million years when I walked around aimlessly with the promise out of sight did I think God was preparing me for such a role. I can rest in the assurance that if God has promised it, He will be in it, and He will help to prepare me for the promise He has given.

The desires of our hearts vary, as do our life circumstances, but can you take a moment to look back and see how God has been shaping you for your future? The shaping is not easy, it can be painful and messy. It can be extremely long (think 40 years in the wilderness long).  It is through both the victories and trials that God prepares us for His plan, His promises, His Kingdom building work [all night coffee cram session not needed].

 

The Role of the Volunteer

the-role-of-the-worship-volunteer-largeI’ve got a new post up at The Church Collective today! Volunteering in our churches is more than just showing up and not complaining. Head over to the site and see if you agree.


 

 

Share the Love

It’s Bayside’s first ever LOVE Week and today was my turn to jump in. What’s LOVE Week? It’s a week where my church is committing time to serving our community in lieu of meeting for groups, watching TV, or whatever else it is we all spend our extra time doing. The service is purely to demonstrate love for nothing in return.

We can love because He first loved us.

Today a group of us headed towards the High School and passed out waters and snacks to the cars leaving at dismissal while they sat in traffic after a day of standardized testing. My kiddies joined us and it was incredible to see the youngest ones eager to jump in and show some love to the teenagers. Turns out after passing out our goodies the high school kids turned to snapchat to document that they were loved!

Pictures from the day will show you that even some of the buses got involved. Pretty sure there’s a lacrosse team somewhere with a whole variety box of chips, good luck girls!