Thursday, September 28, 2006
Here's the email that went out to the GraceSLO family. There are great challenges we're facing. Your can share your comments and input here or via email.
Beloved Grace SLO Family,I apologize in advance for what is a necessary and long email. Thanks for taking the time to read it. They say put the bottom line up front, so here goes . .
Will 250+ of you commit to sacrificing and serving others by attending the 8:00 AM service beginning this Sunday?Let me now explain why I believe these commitments are essential for the continued growth of our ministry this Fall.It Really was a Fall Kick-Off . . .Last Sunday's Fall Kick-Off was AWESOME! Thanks to the many who labored to make the day a true expression of "inside out" ministry. All told, we had 1075 in worship with 250 guests for lunch, 180 of whom were new college students and 70 of whom were from 25 visiting families. What that means is that 1/4 of those in attendance were visiting for the first time. I'd call that an incredibly effective outreach event.
Will all of you consider parking in the Morro/Pacific parking structure this Fall?
Will you consider "adopting" a college student or 3 or 4 for this school year?
What if all those 250 come back this Sunday?This Sunday, October 1st, we dive back into 3 services at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00 AM. As we've talked this week, our staff has recognized an exciting reality . . . if only 100 of the 180 college students come back and attend the 9:30 service before the college hour at 11:00, we've got a BIG problem/opportunity. Our staff hopes and believes we'll have many more than 100 college students attend our 9:30 service this Sunday! I don't know if you noticed, but in the Sundays leading up to the Fall Kick-Off, we were already quite full during the 9:30 service.
What if even 1/2 of the 180 college students invite a friend?
What if we kept the Fall Kick-Off spirit going and kept inviting our friends, neighbors, family, coworkers and total strangers to worship with us this Fall?
What if, all Fall, 25% of those in attendance were first time visitors?
Wouldn't we be crowded?
Wouldn't that be exciting?
Let's see this as an opportunity, not as a problem.In order to accommodate all these new Fall visitors, it's absolutely necessary that as many folks as possible (let's shoot for 250+) make a commitment to attend our 8:00 AM service this Fall. Will you please consider living the Gospel in this way for the sake of the proclamation of Christ to these college students and new families?If you're unwilling to serve and sacrifice in this way for some reason, we'd love to know why. What are the changes that we could make in our ministry that would make it easier for you to make such a change in your worship pattern? We'd appreciate your input. Our desire is to do whatever we can to make room for all those who want to worship with us.What a shame it would be for folks to turn away from Grace because it was a hassle to find a parking place or place to sit. Let's not let this happen!Other Musings & Future Possibilities . . .We believe that Grace is in a unique position to provide college students a truly intergenerational Gospel encounter in a way that few other churches in our community are able. We believe this integration into the overall life of the church is crucial to their growth and maturity in the Gospel during these college years. And it's happening! It's working! They're integrating! Our investment in college ministry is bearing real fruit.All year long, we've been prayerfully pondering the possibility of the continued growth of our ministry. What if God should continue to bring both new families and college students to our doors? What if God were to continue to expand our opportunities to invest in lives and families for Gospel transformation and impact? We've asked again and again . . .
How can we make the 8:00 service more appealing and viable?To this point, we have yet to discover an ideal solution. All solutions come with sacrifices, inconveniences, and compromises.Long term, we believe that establishing a concurrent and parallel 9:30 service in the Ministry Center opens up some exciting possibilities. This option would allow us to expand our seating capacity by up to 500 more people. This service would feature a live staff and worship team, but the message would happen via a live video feed of the service happening just next door in the Worship Center. Or we might reverse things once in a while and I might preach live over in the Ministry Center while those in the Worship Center enjoyed the video feed experience.This would be a flexible and scalable model that would keep Grace on the same campus and at the same time on Sunday mornings, while greatly expanding our current capacity. This option might enable us to eliminate the 8:00 AM service altogether. During the summer and holiday seasons when the additional capacity isn't needed, we could easily collapse the Ministry Center service and scale back to our normal Worship Center.We have talked about intentional ways to carefully guard our unity by insuring that both services followed a similar pattern, worshipped with roughly the same music, and were served by interchangeable intergenerational worship teams. We have a shared commitment to protect and even grow our intergenerational life together.At this point, we believe this is the best option on the table and a real future possibility. After carefully considering the technical and staffing requirements, our staff made the corporate decision to hold off on the starting of this Video Venue Service for as long as we possibly can. This week, we reconsidered that decision and again reaffirmed our commitment to hold off and strive to rebalance our existing services this Fall. Will you help us?When I think about all the ministry opportunities that God has placed in front of us THIS SUNDAY, this Fall and beyond, I am humbled and I rejoice. I think of Paul's Words in Philippians 1:18 . . .
Is there a way to rearrange our programming to better balance our services?
Could we move the college hour or other Adult Bible Fellowships around to fix the problem?
Is there some other creative way we could expand our capacity and make more room?
Only that in every way . . . Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice!Brothers and sisters of Grace, let us rejoice in the proclamation of Christ in these exciting days.Let's smile and sacrifice for the proclamation of Christ and the salvation of men and women. Let's continue the Fall Kick-Off warmth and hospitality all Fall by being a contagious, Christ-centered people.As we prayerfully plan for our exciting future, your input is valuable and invited. If you have any ideas, thoughts or questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or any one of our ministry staff.I consider it an honor and privilege to be your pastor and partner with you in this great Gospel adventure.I'll see you on Sunday at 8:00 AM!Pastor TimP.S. . . A final word to college students. . . You, too, can join us in this joyful sacrifice for the sake of your fellow college classmates . . . by attending the 8:00 AM service, serving during the 9:30 service in the children's, youth, welcome, refreshment or other ministry, and then attending the 11:00 college hour. Think about it!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Great article this month from Christianity Today about the resurgence of Reformed theology among the young . . .Young, Restless, Reformed
We have some of our own Young, Restless, Reformed here at Grace. They're sometimes like bulls in s china closet with their newly discovered enthusiasm for the doctines of Grace. Yet, I'll take some tameable bulls over lackluster, listless young men who aren't excited about anything in life.
A couple stand-out statements in the article...
This generation of young Christians is more committed, more theologically intense, more theologically curious, more self-aware and self-conscious as believers because they were not raised in an environment of cultural Christianity
Joshua Harris, referring to "humble orthodoxy":
If you really understand Reformed theology, we should all just sit around shaking our heads going, 'It's unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?' You are so amazed by grace, you're not picking a fight with anyone, you're just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn't have to save anybody.
I agree. The more we understand the doctrines of Grace, the more humble and gracious toward others we will become. Likewise the more zealous for evangelism we will become. I have observed that people who are getting excited about God and His sovereign grace often go through a very "critical" stage, where they are right, everybody else is wrong, etc, etc. My friend David Hegg calls this the "RAM" or "Reformed Angry Man" stage. My experience has shown that most grow through this stage and move into the "winsome" stage. If we don't move beyond the RAM stage then we don't yet understand the grace of God in truth.
Incidentally, the article makes mention of one of the most influential books in my own life, J.I. Packer's Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God
I have written and taught a study based on Packer's ideas that is posted in PDF format on our website HERE
. Our elders recently worked through this study together.
Hat Tip: Pastor Al once again!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
|This thing starts tomorrow. I so wish our staff were going, but the Sunday after Fall Kick-Off is not a good day for me to be gone. |
Tim Keller, D. A. Carson, John Piper, and David Wells all under one roof!
I'll have to get the cds.
(I just discovered how to insert video. Are you digging it?)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Have you heard about this new movie called Facing the Giants
? The whole thing was produced and acted by a church. Pretty ambitious if you ask me. The main guy is one of the Associate Pastors at the church. The film was picked up by Sony distribution.
It plays at the Downtown Cinemas starting Friday. I think we should all go see it. If we expect our theaters to show family films, we better support them when they come.
Zeke is fired up on it.
What film can we dream up to stick Pastor Ken and Pastor Steve in?
(I have a feeling you're all going to tee off on that question!)
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday's Fall Kick-Off message was based on this exhilarating verse, Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Should be available soon here.
In the meantime, why not listen to Spurgeon's sermon on Psalm 37:4.
That's right you can LISTEN to Spurgeon's sermons, not Spurgeon himself but Spurgeon's sermons. Cloud Audio
(and others) are taking Spurgeon's printed sermons and preaching them to live audiences around the world and recording them.
Now, admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about this whole thing, but eager to hear how Spurgeon dealt with Psalm 37:4. I found myself totally drawn in and captivated by Spurgeon's sermon but also by the delivery. So give it a listen. . . .SermonAudio.com - Sunshine in the Heart
Spurgeon was only in his late twenties when he dlievered this 59 minute sermon on June 15, 1862. There's a reason why he's called the "Prince of Preachers."
While the message will take you back to an earlier time, you'll also recognize that God's Word is timeless as are the struggles of broken humanity.
Let me know what you think. . .
Monday, September 25, 2006
What a great day yesterday at our 2006 Fall Kick-Off! Great spirit of fellowship and fun. People hung out for a long, long time. So exciting to see the body of Christ at Grace come together to pull off something to serve the commnity.
I just got the count. . . . there were approximately 1075 counted at the service and we served 250 visitors for lunch which included about 70 from new families and 180 college students.
Who'd you meet? Introduce them to the rest of the "life together" readers via a comment."
Fall is a season of GATHERING here at Grace. All Fall, our focus needs to be on how to help all these new folks connect to "life@grace." So keep your eyes peeled for new folks and make an extra effort to reach out.
The college ministry is going to be HUGE this Fall which raised the need for new "Adopt-a-Student" families. We'll be rolling out that opportunity in the next couple of weeks. This is a great way for us as a church to heighten our impact in the lives of these college age students. Throughout last year, I kept hearing great stuff from both college students and the families that adopted them.
Other impressions from yesterday?
Friday, September 22, 2006
Few pastors have influenced me more deeply than Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church
in New York City.
Listening to Tim Keller has challenged me to preach the Gospel from every passage, to speak to believers and unbelievers at the same time all the time, to reach out without dumbing it down, to speak to the head and heart, to talk WITH people instead of AT and OVER people.
A couple weeks back, Tim Keller had the opportunity to speak at the Service of Remembrance and Peace for 9-11 Victim's Families. President Bush was in attendance. Apparently some of the White House staff liked the message so much that they had it transcribed. I found it on a blog written by two of Keller's sons. Check it out and tell me what you think...Name Pending
In addition to great gospel preaching, Keller includes a couple of gem quotes on suffering that I will definitely be using, one from John Stott...
I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it.
and one from Dostoevsky. . .
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.
Is that not what Christian hope is all about?
For more on Keller, also check out this interesting article in the New York Times . . .Preaching the Word and Quoting the Voice - New York Times
Here's a great Keller quote to lure you into that article. . .
If you seek power before service, you'll neither get power, nor serve. If you seek to serve people more than to gain power, you will not only serve people, you will gain influence. That's very much the way Jesus did it.
Thank you for everything, Tim Keller! God bless you and keep you!
Friday, September 22, 2006
Here's the Vital Info Fall Kick-Off email that the Grace Family received. If you didn't, contact the church office. Sunday's comin' . . .
Beloved Family of Grace,
As we move toward our 2006 Fall Kick-Off this Sunday, September 24, I am acutely aware that this has been a particularly trying week for many in our Grace family. I cannot remember a week that's been marked by as many trials and hard things among our congregation. I'm not sure what exactly is going on, but I do know this. . . that what the evil one wants to use for harm and ill, God wants to use for good. Along the way, ironically, I've been preparing for our Fall Teaching Series entitled "Joy Revolution" rooted in the book of Philippians. We get started this Fall Kick-Off Sunday with a message from Psalm 34:7, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I pray that God will use this message to both minister to hurting hearts and draw lost hearts to Himself. Please join me in prayer. Regardless of what you're going through or what you've experienced this week, I urge you to come worship with the Lord's people on what will be a powerful and glorious day.
Here is vital information you need to know for Sunday. Please read carefully. . . .
1. Inviting & Welcoming: It is not too late to invite friends, coworkers, family members, neighbors, and complete strangers to join us this Sunday. It's about as open, warm, and non-threatening environment as it could possibly be. I've attached a copy of the invite card at the bottom of this email so you can send an invite. People are far more likely to respond to a personal invitation than they are to a mailer or newspaper ad. So take a risk, step out and be bold. Remember that Sunday is a day of service, outreach and welcome. Be looking for those RED newcomer name tags. Smile.
2. Everybody Plays: We've been encouraged by the many who have stepped forward to pull off this HUGE day. If you've missed the opportunities to sign up and serve, it's not too late. You can either show up early, stay late on Sunday or email Pastor Steve at<mailto:email@example.com> to volunteer. This Fall at Grace, EVERYBODY PLAYS!
3. Parking & Arrival: Our ONE outdoor service starts at 10:00 AM. Plan to arrive early and park in the parking structure on the corner of Morro and Pacific. (It's not that far!) Let's leave as much street parking close to the park as we can for visitors who might be joining us on that day. As you approach the park, please respect the flagged off areas and use the designated walkways. As you approach the worship area, you will be greeted by one of our Welcome Team who will give you a worship folder and ask you to fill out a name tag. As usual, those who have been attending Grace for less than a year and have never been at Fall Kick-Off will be welcomed withRED name tags. Those who have been worshipping with us for more than a year will receiveGOLD name tags. Please wear your name tag all day so we all can refresh our "name hard drives." This is a very important form of welcoming new folks to our church family . . . PLEASE WEAR YOUR NAME TAG. First time guests will also receive a guest registration slip which they will exchange for free lunch tickets after the service.
4. Worship Service: Our dress is casual this Sunday. I will be wearing flip flops for sure and quite possibly even shorts. Our worship service will be about the length of our normal service, not more than 70 minutes. There should be plenty of shaded seating available. You are also free to bring your own blankets and lawn chairs and sit under the trees, if you prefer. Please care for our senior saints by insuring that they have access to shaded seating. There will be a Baby Station just east of the stage area equipped with rockers and a changing table. There will not be nursery staff on duty on Sunday.
This is a Family Service, but please try to rein in your little ones during the service. We have the whole afternoon to enjoy the park. We ask that you avoid having your kids over in the kids play area in the park during the service so that other kids are not distracted. My suggestion is that you talk to your children about your expectations during the service on Saturday evening! At one point in the service, we'll ask all the kids 6th grade and under to come on up to help with a song. Feel free to come with your timid ones.
An offering will be received on that day as part of our normal expression of worship. Guests will be encouraged not to give! Sing your hearts out to the Lord. Outdoor sound diffuses far more, so sing louder and stronger and let's let our visitors, neighbors, and those driving by know that the Lord is worthy to be praised. Delight yourselves in the Lord! I will do all I can to make the message from Psalm 37:4 engaging, encouraging, clear, relevant, and Gospel-centered. Pray for me!
5. Lunch: Guests eat first and eat free. If you bring a guest, you are encouraged to eat with them. If you are serving on the Fun Team, feel free to eat immediately after our guests. If you have not yet purchased your lunch tickets, you will need to purchase them at the ticket stations just south of the Gazebo. Guests will receive their guest registration before or during the worship service which they will exchange for lunch tickets at these same ticket stations. (Don't worry… it will all make more sense on that day!) Tickets for lunch are $6 per person, $25 per family maximum.
6. Afternoon Fun & Games: Just go for it. There will be plenty for all to do. Throughout the afternoon make it your goal to engage with 5 folks with red name tags that you don't know. Let's overwhelm our newcomers with our hospitality. The center Gazebo will be our Welcome Center where you will find all sorts of ministry information including new ministry brochures. Members of our welcome team will be available to assist you with any information you may need. I understand that our 75th Anniversary Video will be showing in the Gazebo as well K-Life will be providing the music and announcing raffle prizes.
7. Between Now & Then: Pray and invite. It's going to be a great afternoon. Let's not take it for granted. Let's not let it be rote, stale or dull, but vibrant, warm and exciting. Let's let it express the energy of our life in Christ together.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for serving. Thanks for playing this Fall. I am privileged to serve our great God together with you. I am honored to serve as your pastor. See you Sunday!
Because of & for the Gospel . . . Pastor Tim
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Most of us are familiar with Jon & Noonie Fugler's involvement with K-Life, but did you know that there is another radio host in our midst?
It's Jim Borland.
Jim is the wife our Business Administrator, Kathy, the father of 7, a Cal Poly instructor in the area of Construction Management and now serving on our Annex Renewal Team. Jim also plays the sax in our Grace orchestra once in a while and helps on our tech team.
In addition to all that, Jim finds time to host the Swing Cat's Ball
on KCBX, 90.1 FM on Fridays from 8:00 - 9:00 PM. The hour long program features the best of the big band era jazz including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Delta Rhythm Boys, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Count Basie and many, many more!
I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I plan to.
I'm always amazed and encouraged when I hear of the people of Grace engaging in the community. Abraham Kuyper was right. . . ."There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, `This is mine, this belongs to me.'"
Involvement in the arts and every other good and enjoyable pursuit under the sun for the glory of God is part of the creation mandate and the new creation mandate.
You go, Jim!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
It seems a long time ago already since our Family Camp, though it was just a week ago. Here's a couple of pics. . .
The first one is of Jason Evangelista on the famous "Taco." Jason figured out how to stay on when the taco got fully sideways and then land it. Amazing. Other great taco riders included Andrew Smith, Charlie Grey, Kendall Mattina, Wayne Lyons, Dave Obrien, Wesley and John Evans.
The second one is of me running out of gas after everybody but the Gibsons had left on Sunday evening. Don't ask me how that happened. I thought I had plenty. Andy was the hero who talked the young girl at Al's Market into turning on the gas pump after they had all been shut down for the night. What a boyscout! That's me, Andy and what we hoped wasn't a stalker in the car coming up the road.
It was truly an incredible weekend. I didn't want to go home. Sweet fellowship. Great wakeboarding, skiiing and tacoing.
Here's an encouraging email I recieved from John Evans after the weekend. . . .
Thanks again for the great boat rides this weekend. Wesley and I are still sore, but the pain was worth the gain. This was our families’ first Grace Campout and both Wesley and Evelyn agree it was one of the highlights of their year.
So thank you for all your hard work and if you see Dori please express our thanks to her too.
On an aside, when we got back to our house Sunday and started unloading a neighbor asked us where we had been all weekend. We told him about the campout, all the fun we had, and about the senior pastor who gave the wildest tube rides. He said “that sounds like a church our family should visit. Which one is it?” You just never know what’s going to connect with someone.
Have a good week,
You never know what's going to connect with someone, so why don't you invite someone to this Sunday's Fall Kick-Off!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Does anyone know anyone who has a sheep and a goat I could borrow on Sunday morning for a few hours?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The Central Coast Evangelical Pastor's Network
has been talking about getting John Piper to the Central Coast for some time now.
I've just been informed that it's going to happen a couple of weeks before Easter 2008.
Put it on your calendar. . .
Thursday, September 7, 2006
I have mixed emotions about this Wall Street Journal article entitled. . .A Popular Strategy For Church Growth Splits Congregants
I'm not a big fan of the Purpose Driven stuff because I don't think you can do ministry "out of a box." Leaders of local congregations must, through prayer and planning, determine what ministry looks like in their particular and unique settings. I think that anything which moves us away from the centrality of the Gospel and systematic, straightforward Biblical teaching is suspect and problematic. Yet at the same time, I also think its important to look for ways to connect. Relevance is not the "end all, be all," but there's no excuse for stodgy, boring, mediocre, "stuck in the mud" ministry either.
Change is such a delicate matter, but I think its inevitable. Church splits grieve me. I empathize with older folks who, with change, feel disenfranchised in the churches they built. I also empathize with Pastors who are trying to lead, looking to the future and trying to invest in the next generation.
All in all, its a sad article and, like I said, it stirs up mixed emotions in me.
What are your thoughts?
I know well we're not immune from similar issues here at Grace. Sometimes it feels like they're bubbling just below the surface in our intergenerational life together.
What's your read?
Makes me think of Paul's plea in Philippians 2. . .
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. -Philippians 2:1-2
Unity is something we must never take for granted. We must work for it and strive for it. The key is learning to live the Gospel with one another.
Lord, give us the same mind, the same loves, the same purpose here at Grace. Grow and guard our unity for your Name's Sake and our good!
(Hat Tip: David Leece and Todd Talley who separately sent me this article. Thanks guys.)
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Ted Malley sent me this great post from Al Mohler's Blog on the state of preaching today . . .The State of Preaching Today
Since we've been plowing through these challenging and controversial texts in Matthew, here's a paragraph that jumped out at me. . .
Instead, many of these preachers simply disregard and ignore vast sections of Scripture, focusing instead on texts that are more comfortable, palatable, and nonconfrontational to the modern mind. This is a form of pastoral neglect and malpractice, corrected only by a comprehensive embrace of the Bible--all of it--as the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God. All of it is for our good.
I think it's so important that both preacher and people understand what the Bible says about preaching. . . what it is. . . why we do it. . . why it matters . . . what constitutes good or poor preaching. . . why preaching is the centerpiece of the church's worship. These things can't be assumed in these days . . . they must be continually explained. So please read up . .
I believe that there are people still hungry for the Word of God. I believe that God creates that hunger. I was encouraged in this conviction this morning when I received a note from a couple who's been visiting Grace for the last few Sundays. They described moving here from the Fresno area and visiting several Central Coast churches, but not quite finding what they were looking for. They descibed what they are looking for in these words . . .
We want the pure, unadulterated Word of God. So now we're looking for a church home where the pastors/elders revere the Word of God and rightly handle it. This is our number 1 priority. We also want some good fellowship. We were quite involved in both prior churches and have similar hopes in a new church home as well.
I think they've come to right place!
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Such an encouraging and challenging issue of World Mag last week featuring 15 effective compassion ministries that are the 2006 finalists in a contest run each year by the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
, a Michigan-based think tank that has as one of its components the Center for Effective Compassion.
As we look ahead to the future of our mercy ministries, it's so vital that a bunch of us are familiar with other programs that work. There is no reason to recreate the wheel.
Read about these effective compassion ministries here.
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
This last Sunday we looked at the Parable of the Talents and its application to our Fall at Grace. (Listen here!
) I ended the message by challenging us with the AYSO motto. . . "This Fall at Grace, 'Everybody Plays.'"
This morning we prayed in our staff meeting that it might be true. Join us in prayer and find a position.
(On a side note, when you're preparing to teach, you never know how or when an illustration is going to strike you. "Everybody Plays" came to me about a half an hour before the start of the services, but I felt like it was the perfect closer to drive home the point of the parable and its application to our "life together" this Fall. No doubt the Spirit at work. To God be the glory. I'll take them when they come.)
Friday, September 1, 2006
before . . .
after . . .
Zeke really wanted a buzz cut after his cousins got theirs. When it happened, the girls lamented. Zeke cheered and kept going to look in the mirror. It was kind of a man-time bonding thing for he and I. He's such a cool kid. . . total boy.