The past week has been one of the busiest I’ve experienced since planting Compass Point. So much so that I have had precious little free time to blog. If it wasn’t for my Blackberry and some folks being late for meetings, I would not have been able to get the blog posts up last Tuesday or Wednesday. Between preaching last Sunday, my turnaround trip to Atlanta for the ChurchPlanters.com Conference, my Dad going into the hospital, a podcast interview, a newspaper interview, several meetings with other church planters, normal Compass Point meetings, one really creative meeting with our children’s team, time with Denise, time with my family, trying to work in a few hours of sleep, my 41st birthday and preaching yesterday…I’m completely wasted!!!
However, last week was a growing week for me. God has showed me so many things that it has been really hard to process them all. Between the truly awesome main speakers at the conference, the informative track times, hanging out with some great friends, meeting some new friends, late-night conversations, watching some new leadership at Compass Point step up and my normal quiet time/Bible study…God has been extremely vocal in my life this week. There is just way too much to convey in this blog, but I will break down a few things that really moved me this past week:
1. I need to be a man of unction. I love the word "unction". I first heard my grandmother say it years ago, but had no clue what it meant. Later I read about…and came to understand…what the word "unction" meant in Leonard Ravenhill’s book "Why Revival Tarries". It had been a long time since I heard…or used…the word "unction". That is until Matt Carter took the stage at the ChurchPlanters.com Conference last week. He conveyed the need for followers of Christ…specifically shepherds of flocks…to men…and women…of unction. When he said, "If you only have 24 hours to live are you going to download porn or spend time with God or your family?" it rocked my world…brought me to tears. I realized then that I had not lost my passion for the things of God…I just let that passion simmer on low for a while instead of burning hot. The word "untion" is definitely back in my everyday vocabulary!
2. There is a responsibility with blogging. I was completely blown away at the conference when people would walk up to me and say, "I read your blog". Some would be kind with their words, others would take the time to tell me how much I suck as a human being. Either way, it was amazing to find out that people actually stop by here on a daily or weekly basis. Typepad tracks the number of actual hits you get to the blog, but has no way of tracking the folks that read stuff through RSS feed services. Over the last week or so I’ve been averaging 300+ hits to the sight, not to mention the countless others that are reading my mindless dribble through services like FeedBburner, Bloglines, NewsGator, etc. I’m just blown away…and humbled by that.
I’ve also realized that there is a responsibility that comes with blogging. Shawn Lovejoy made mention at the Blogger’s Round Table Discussion that some bloggers just wanted to get a laugh, get famous or take cheap shots at people. I suppose I could be blamed for at least two of the three. I don’t totally agree with him about the "getting a laugh" thing, but I do see his point with the taking cheap shots at people.
Over the past few months I’ve shed some light on a disturbing trend of churches preaching about sex just to get publicity. Some churches…truly led by God to do the sex message series…have reached their communities. Others have done much damage in their community for the cause of Christ because they were chasing a PR fad. The problem is…some really great men of God thought I was blogging about them. That disturbs me.
I’ve also discovered…through a rather embarrassing…yet warranted…stage moment by Ed Stetzer (Ed was kind of enough to ask me permission before he did it – the guy is a class act) that I have taken cheap shots at people on this blog. I really don’t feel too good about that. Ed, Tony Morgan, Rick Warren and Mark Batterson are Godly men and great pastors – just because I don’t agree with some of their choices…or methods…does not give me the right to take shots at them through this medium. It was just utter arrogance and ego. Gentlemen…and your family and churches…I am truly sorry!
In the days to come I feel a stronger need to ask the question, "Does my blog postings add to the Body of Christ…or take away?" I’m becoming increasingly aware of the responsibility that comes with having such a public voice.
3. I have no passion for reaching church people. I knew this tidbit of info before I traveled to Atlanta. However, Gary Lamb’s track session really brought it home that my heart…and drive comes from the unquenchable calling to reach out to disconnected people. It’s not that I do not have the patience for church folks…I’m just wired to shepherd people that have given up on church…and God.
Gary and I have churches that are polar opposites from each other in style, outreach and demographics. However, we both reach an incredible amount of disconnected folks. His description of the things they see (cash instead of checks in the offering basket, lesbians talking in the lobby, people saying vulgar things in church conversations, no one getting into praise and worship, etc.) at Ridgestone are identical to the things we see each week at Compass Point. I guess that is why he and I have a friendship that transcends church planting.
I know his track time ran some folks off from church planting…and that is fine. The world…and the Kingdom of God…has zero need for transfer growth churches. Yet for me…Gary had me even more pumped up to reach the Lakeland community for Christ. He helped to redefine the leadership priorities I have, the way I preach and the meetings I take. If it’s not concerning reaching the disconnected it doesn’t make it into my Top 5 on my priorities of the week list. 🙂
I used to think it was bad not to have a heart for churches people. I discovered that Lakeland has over 250 churches with the calling to reach churched people…Compass Point…and Chris Elrod…is wired to reach the disconnected. Thanks Gary for the reminder!!!
4. I’m sticking with the Southern Baptist Convention. Well, at least for the time being. Compass Point was all set to bolt from the denomination. We’ve downplayed our association with the SBC for months now, but recent stupidity had convinced us to leave.
Ed Stetzer changed all of that. I’m not going to go into detail right now, but I think some fine changes are coming to the SBC that is way overdue!!!
5. Travis Johnson is one the nicest guys in the world. We had only emailed back and forth until the conference. On the way to Atlanta I met up with Travis in Gainesville for dinner and then sat with him most of the conference. There was not a moment that he wasn’t offering to do something really great for someone. He truly has a "Kingdom heart" and mentality. It is so refreshing to be around a pastor that truly lives each day with a missional mindset. Travis…brother…you really inspired me!!!
6. We don’t have to be the same to get along. In the world of conservative versus charismatic…Calvinist versus Armenian…and Emergent versus…well…pretty much everyone else…I discovered that style, technique and preferences really don’t divide us. It’s our own closed mindset and stupidity…our failure to understand that we are all here for the same purpose…to reach the people of our local culture with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Mountain Lake Church is nothing like Compass Point. In fact, my flock would see most of what they do as…well…cheesy. That’s okay, because the Mountain Lake folks would see Compass Point as weird and boring. That…in and of itself…is the beauty of the Kingdom of God…we all have a place! While the style and outreach methods of Mountain Lake never really interested me, their techniques were really great. If I had "thrown out the baby with the bath water" and said "They’re just a modern church with nothing to offer a pastor from a post-modern church" I’d have never gone to the track times. The wealth of information I learned at the the track times by the Mountain Lake staff is beyond measure. They have a different calling than us, but they are a large version of a "simple church" with big vision. Just the way they do information cards and assimilate people was worth the trip to Atlanta. I’m glad I went…and listened!!!
7. I miss hard wood trees. Florida has nothing but live oaks, some scrub pines and a butt-load of palm trees. While in Georgia I realized that I miss hard wood trees lining the road. I miss the smell of fireplaces burning throughout neighborhoods of brick homes. I miss 35 degree weather. I miss living in someplace besides Florida with its 365 days of summer.
8. I’m too ADD to really get into corporate worship. The Mountain Lake band rocked! I mean they were really good (not as good as the Compass Point band, but a close second). However, I had trouble getting into the worship because of my ADD. I’m looking at the lighting system, making notes about sound levels, checking out the worship software techniques, drawing out slide ideas and was generally distracted by the live-action motion video behind the words. It works for most other people…I’m just way too ADD to worship in large groups. I’m better off with my iPod in the woods.
9. I could never live in Atlanta. I’m a HUGE Braves fan, but I could never live in Atlanta. The place is nice, the people are wonderful…but the traffic is from the pits of Hell!!!
10. God is faithful!!! It was an amazing, emotional and unreal week. Yet…through it all…God was there in mighty ways! It is so embarrassing to be in ministry…and still…at times…doubt that God will come through. It is the shame of my life…and one that I’m working harder at correcting!!!