I am so excited to be a part of the BIG GIVE at NewPointe Community Church. I enjoyed watching Oprah’s Big Give, but this is way better. We are asking our small group network (100 small groups) to go give to their communities. We are giving away 40,000.00 to our small groups to go give. I can’t wait to hear the stories of what these groups came up with and the lives they touched.
I shared this with my small group last night and we prayed about what God would have us do as a group. Each small group can get a gift of 400.00 to go give back. I challenged my group to raise some more money to be able to give even more. We started brainstorming ideas on how we can take the 400.00 and make it grow.
My group has been very generous already. We have given to two families in need. One over Christmas and the other over the past few months. We are hoping we can continue to bless and encourage these two families.
I am also hoping that some groups can go together and pool their resources to take on some larger projects. The impact this has on our surrounding community could be BIG. My prayer is that God is glorified through all of this. If any small group leader’s are looking for ideas, please contact me.
The local church should be known for it’s generosity and love to the community. We are the example of how people view God. If we are not reaching out and making a difference, why should people reach out to God? Why should they think that God cares about them?
The other awesome thing that has happened is that last month NewPointe sent checks out to 11 local school systems. What a great way to build a bridge and develop a relationship with the schools. I am excited about what doors this will open for NewPointe to partner with the schools and impact students and administrations. Instead of complaining about what the schools are doing wrong, we can encourage what they are doing right and find common ground. Then we can help to equip the schools to equip the students. One thing we can do is help develop leaders and build character in the schools systems. This is a great way to partner with schools and build relationships that will matter.
Are you ready to GIVE BIG!
My personal life mission statement is “Growing in Faith, Character and Leadership”. I have been using that for almost eight years now. It helps me to stay focused.
This past Friday I was part of a day of leadership development at NewPointe Community Church. It was a live Simulcast from Atlanta GA called ADVANCE. The day was filled with great speakers on various leadership related topics. Since I was helping run the event I did not get to hear all the speakers. The ones I did get to listen to gave me some great insights and nuggets to think about.
I believe we must be constantly growing, if we stop growing we become stagnate and comfortable. To grow takes initiative, effort, focus and time. We need to grow in our personal lives, professional lives and relational lives. My passion is growth. I love to see people growing and changing. It really saddens me when I see someone after a long time and they have not changed. It makes me wonder what opportunities they have missed.
Today I want to talk about growing as a leader. You may not think you are much of a leader, but we are all leaders in some way because we all have influence with someone. If you don’t grow as a leader, your influence with people will not grow and you will not get much accomplished. Leading people is a challenging thing, especially if they are volunteers.
Over the past six years I have been leading in the church environment and have learned a ton. I have learned more what my strengths are and how to maximize those strengths. I have learned that leadership is relationship driven and that it takes a great deal of time to build meaningful relationships. I have learned that I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. I have learned that I need help from others that are further along than I am. I have learned that I need to be held accountable or I get off track. I have learned that when you make a mistake you admit it and apologize and ask for forgiveness. I have learned that I need to say no more often. I have learned to speak up and push back when I do not agree or feel that we are making a mistake. I have learned to keep my mouth shut when I am angry or emotional. I have learned that people will follow a passionate person with a big vision. I have learned that God is in control and I am not.
I could go on but I will stop there. I want to end with some nuggets that I took away from Friday’s ADVANCE Leadership Conference.
“Vision is a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be”. Andy Stanley
“What would go undone if you ceased to exist.” Andy Stanley
“Stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver; think of yourself as a solution finder.” Bill Taylor
“People don’t have to work for you to work with you.” Bill Taylor
“Speak up, never accept the boundaries other people have given you.” Kevin Carroll
“Maximize the day, you have 86,400 seconds in a day, be present.” Kevin Carroll
“Bring your authentic self to people.” Kevin Carroll
“People change for three reasons: Pain, Fear of conscience, Vision.” Dan Cathy
“Going the first mile is what is expected; going the second mile builds a relationship and an emotional connection.” Dan Cathy
“There are things we work for and there are things we wait for. It is a big mistake to wait for something you haven’t worked for.” John Maxwell
“For everything you gain, you give up something.” John Maxwell
“You can easily determine the caliber of people by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage them.” John Maxwell
“People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.” Patrick Lencioni
“Everyone need to know that their job matters to someone. Anyone.” Patrick Lencioni
My last post about loneliness led me to the thought of being single. Many people equate being single to being lonely. Our society is filled with many people that are single. Some have never married, others are divorced, others have lost their spouse. For whatever reason we have a large population of single people. I have noticed that many singles are attracted to the local church. It may be because they are looking for healing of the hurts of divorce or loss. It may be they are searching for community and friendships. It may be to look for a spouse.
I am not single, so I don’t know what a single person is going through. I do however know what the Apostle Paul and Jesus said about being single. Paul said is 1 Corinthians 7: 1, 8, 25-26 “It is good for a man not to marry…Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am…Now about virgins:…I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.”
In these four verses Paul is addressing questions that the Corithian church had about marriage. They were asking if it was good or better to be married. That culture was filled with sexual tempatation, much like our culture today. Whether you are married or single those temptations are just as big. In that type of an environment Paul was saying that is is good to be single and to be content in the situation where God has placed you, wether married or single. He made it clear that both marriage and singleness are gifts from God. One is not morally better than the other, and both are valuable to accomplishing God’s purposes.
Paul talked about the benefits of serving God in a deeper way by being single and being able to give God more of your time. Paul was in fact single himself. People that are married must also meet the needs of their spouse and family, which makes it difficult to serve God or go into mission work.
Jesus also talked about this subject. In Matthew 19:12 he said “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
I believe He is implying here that there are some who are so disciplined and motivated that they choose singleness so that they may better give undistracted service to the Lord and other people. Jesus did not make this mandatory, but optional. Not everyone can live such a disciplined life. It is important to note that the church and the world owe much to those who have deliberately chosen this course. Many single men and women have given their lives to serving and reaching the lost. As a result the Good News about Jesus has been spread across the world. I have met some of these folks and am amazed at their heart and passion to reach the lost.
Others have done this for a portion of their lives and were able to be content in that situation and that stage of life. If you find yourself single, that does not mean you must be lonely. God can use your singleness to build His kingdom. You can use your gifts and abilities to serve God and people. You can get involved in a small group and build friendships. You can volunteer and serve in new and exciting ways. You can look to God to meet your needs of acceptance, significance and security. God may be calling you to something bigger, something that can last for eternity.
The end of Romans 12:2 says that “God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect.” Because His will is good and perfect, it should be accepted, adapted to, and embraced. Whatever your situation is, God can use you.
I meet with, and talk to a lot of people. Some are married, some are single, some divorced, some separated. I have been hearing a similar theme with many of the people I have been talking to lately. Words like frustration, emptiness and loneliness. As I began to think about this and read about loneliness, I soon discovered that this is a widespread problem in our society.
Loneliness comes in many forms and they all can be very painful. The death of a spouse or close family member can leave you feeling lonely. A separation or a divorce or even a broken engagement can create intense feelings of loneliness. An inability to initiate or maintain healthy relationships as a single person can also create deep loneliness. Even a married person can experience deep loneliness, especially if they are have marriage problems.
Our world today also makes it very easy to be independent and alone which can create feelings of loneliness. We can do most things in the privacy of our homes and seldom have close contact with other people.
So what do you do if you are experiencing this thing called loneliness?
Loneliness started way back when Adam & Eve sinned. They had a perfect environment and a perfect relationship with God. They had no loneliness or fear. After they sinned their relationship with God was broken and they began to experience fear and loneliness. This has continued throughout history and is still a big problem today.
I believe there are three things that can help fight against this feeling of emptiness and loneliness. We talk about these three things a lot where I work (Newpointe Community Church).
The first thing is building intimacy with God. Deepening your relationship with God and living a life of worship is the first step needed to combat loneliness. To become intimate with someone you must spend time with them and get to know their heart. The more you do that with God, the more He fills the void or emptiness you are feeling. As you begin to understand how God sees you and how much He loves you, your needs for acceptance, security and significance are met. Often times as we get off track with God, we become more depressed and lonely. We begin to focus on the problems and feelings instead of spending more time with God. It is easy to get distracted in this area of our lives when we are hurting.
The second thing is to get involved in community. We were created for relationships and often that is missing in our lives. We all crave community, close friendships and a place were people know us. It is very easy to isolate ourselves and not take the step or risk of community. My church is made up of many small groups. People that get together on a regular basis and have fun together, talk together, eat together, pray together and study together. Most people don’t have five close friends, they are lucky to have one. To combat loneliness you need to get involved in community.
The third thing is to have influence in your world. What I mean by that is to serve. When you use your God-given abilities and gifts to help other people it fills some of that emptiness as well. By giving something back to your church, community, neighbors or strangers you get so much more in return.
Using your influence also means sharing your story with other people. The things you have experienced and gone through can often times help someone else make it through a similar experience. Those two things; serving/volunteering and sharing your life story are huge in fighting loneliness.
Loneliness would want you to sit at home and think you have nothing to offer the world. To think that you can’t make a difference and things can’t get any better. Those are lies, the truth is you can make a difference and you do have something to offer. Intimacy with God, Involvement in Community and Influence in your world are all important and needed to overcome loneliness and emptiness.
I finished two books this weekend. I had been working on these books for a few months and finally finished them both. One of the books I was using as a book study with a group of guys I meet with every other Tuesday morning for breakfast. The book is called “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger. They did a study on churches that are growing and those that are stagnate or declining. This book shares the results of those studies. It is very interesting.
The bottom line is that the churches that keep it simple and made it clear and easy for people to grow spiritually were growing. The churches that offered a lot of programs and minstries were declining. We have had some great discussions about our churches. The guys in my group go to a different church, so it was nice to hear their perspective on this stuff as well. If you are involved at your church I would highly recommend you read this book.
The other book I finished is called “Soul Cravings” by Erwin Raphael McManus. This is an incredible book. It is different in its layout and design, more like a journal than a book. McManus talks about Intimacy, Destiny, Meaning and Seeking God. He addresses some of the tough questions about God and why we exist and how we are wired. I found Soul Cravings to be a refreshing, thought provoking book. If you are seeking to know God and yourself better, this book may help. I plan on giving some of these away.
One of the quotes toward the end of the book says “God has placed cravings within your soul that will drive you insane or drive you to him. Your soul longs for God; you just may not know it yet.”
“We are all searching for truth.
We are all looking for God.
We crave meaning.
We long to trust.
We need to believe in something.
We need to believe in someone.
We need to believe in God.”
McManus is real and relevant in his writing. He is clearly a free thinker and not stuck in being religious. He stresses relationship and intimacy, read it for yourself.
Here is an addition to the story about the family we helped move last Friday. They mentioned they would like some cats for the kids and to help with mice outside. Jennifer Troyer is in my small group and she is a volunteer leader at the Cat’s N Us group in Dover.
John & Jennifer and their children met with this family and helped them adopt 3 cats from the shelter. Our group is also looking at other ways we can be a blessing to this family.
Here are some pictures: