Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado Update as of April 26, 2011

I want to keep this in front of you to remember to pray and give. But I have another reason...I want you to be open to going.

It's always too late to train when disaster strikes. Christ-followers should be among the first to go to help those in crisis. We must prepare to do that. So what am I asking you to do?

* Pray for those responding in the name of Christ. Pray God would give you a heart that is willing to go should he call you to.

* Give as God leads you through your church or directly through a Christ-centered ministry.

* Get trained. Go through whatever ministry or non-profit you want to. But get trained. The time will come when you will want to go. You can't get the credentials and training you need then. It's too late.

TornadoTornado Update as of April 26, 2011
NCBM Disaster Relief men and women continue to work out of more than 10 different locations across North Carolina. So far, more than 6890 volunteer days have been provided by our teams. These teams have completed more than 906 jobs and have provided over 61,000 meals. There are still approximately 250 job requests remaining. For more information go tohttp://www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/North-Carolina/Tornado

Striking a Nerve in Church Leaders

If you know me, you know I'm built nothing like a wrestler. I'm tall and very thin. People used to say I had legs Colonel Sanders wouldn't want. Okay, I'm still smarting a bit from that one...

But I spend a lot of time wrestling, none the less.

I wrestle with how we "Do church" in America today. I think about it first from my perspective as pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship. But I think beyond that to the American Evangelical church and then the church in general. My heart is burdened for Jesus' bride, the Church, to shine brightly.

I keep coming back to the discovery that Willow Creek CC made several years ago. They concluded (loose paraphrase) that they were doing a diservice to their people and the Great Commission by emphasizing church programs over personal responsibility for one's spiritual growth. In other words, they were helping people grow-to a point. But ultimately, they realized that we are each responsible for our spiritual growth and that the job of church leadership is equip the people to grow and mature.

They took a lot of undeserved heat for this courageous admission. I think they were spot-on. And I think they hit a nerve heard across the evangelical world. Because most churches (if they were honest and informed) would admit that we were under-emphasizing this biblical priority and over-emphasizing programs that were reliant more on paid leadership.

Combining this with my personal experience where I was part of a church headed in the same direction and it was like God was trying to get my attention and say, "Darien, wake up! This is my best."

So, ever since, I've been wrestling with what that looks like and how to make that happen.

There are several churches doing a good job in this area. I'm still learning how they are doing it but it seems that they have gotten this message and are acting on it. They include National Community Church, Cornerstone Church Simi Valley, and Seacoast Church. These certainly aren't the only ones and you might be surprised that they are all mega-churches. But this is why they are getting my attention: 1. They are more visible as mega-churches (especially through their pastor-authors) and 2. They are normally criticized for being too shallow when it comes to making disciples.

While I don't know Community Christian Church as well, their church planting network (New Thing) and their making much of leaders like Neil Cole tell me that they are more interested in making disciples than just building big churches. (they are a multi-campus mega-church) And Neil Cole seems to be striking a nerve in church leaders. He sure is in this one.

So I've included a post from Dave Ferguson's blog (Pastor of CCC) from something Neil shared at CCC recently. These strike a chord in my spirit as I read them. So I plan to blog about these over the next several weeks (or longer). I guess I want to wrestle with them "out loud" and maybe even get some comments and feedback along the way. I have a lot to learn and you can help me, I believe.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    My Thoughts on Planet Wisdom Conference

    This is from January after I took our youth to FL for the Planet Wisdom conference. I wrote my thoughts but then never posted them. Here they are in pretty raw form. I hope they help others as they consider youth conferences. -Darien

    Worship music

    A solid, little know band outside of FL called Dutton, made up of young guys who lead worship in their own churches, did a sound job. They played some Crowder and Tomlin but also some of their own stuff. Their own stuff was fine but not what I'm used to. Still, our teens seemed to like them.


    Mark Matlock did all of the sessions and apparently always does. He's the passion and force behind PlanetWisdom and his passion shows. 

    He speaks kind of like I do now. My older daughter agreed when I made that observation later. How's that, you say? He gives you a lot of information, speaks long, not enough illustrations but good content. Could be more to the point and more visual but effective. Is not as polished as you'd expect at, say, a Student Life conference. (note: I've taken youth groups to 8 SL Tours so that's my point of reference for better or worse)


    More like Skit time. The Skit Guys were hilarious! They also did some skits that were powerful and penetrating. At times they might even have been borderline for some but very good. They do all the drama for PW and you can see why they are a favorite.

    Overall Production

    Basic but sound. They had a giant screen behind the speaker (down low) for more general effects which I really liked. Then 2 other screens flanking that up high for words, vids, etc. Basic but effective. Crew seemed to be on track and this was only their 2nd of this tour. 

    Incidentally, we helped them do take-down as they gave groups a chance to serve like Student Life did/does. It was fun to be able to incorporate service as a part of our weekend. They could have been more organized but it wasn't chaotic.


    They did a great job of incorporating missions as a natural part of the weekend. They had a 19-yr old who started Loose Change for Loosing Chains or something like that to free slaves. He shared several times over the weekend and really connected. They gave the kids a chance to sponsor a compassion child too--but without the guilt trip.

    They made international missions accessible to the teens in a sensitive way without the guilt trip. This impacted my older daughter the most. She is giving up her $20/month texting plan (which she pays for herself) to help pay to sponsor her first compassion child (now $38/mon) for example.


    "A God You Can Know" was one of telling the overall story of God from Genesis thru Revelation. They gave students a notebook to use, as well, that had the scriptures, places to take notes, questions to answer, etc. Good theme and idea as far as the power of Story.

    At times I felt like the book was more important than the Bible because he always spoke from his book instead of his Bible. That probably came from having to cover so much that he couldn't really teach a passage like I like to. Next year his theme will be teaching students how to use and understand their Bible. That could be very good.


    Cost was higher than Student Life has been in the past. But then SL isn't doing conferences anymore (bring Tour back, SL!. Overall, still a decent price.

    Overall Impact

    While I would rate it lower than any SL Conf I've ever been to, God used it to impact my older daughter deeply. As a pastor of a church with few bells and whistles and a youth group with even less, I continue to grow more and more confident in a God who needs nothing to anything. So while I would rate this conference lower by conference standards, I rate it high as effective.

    If I could choose today, I'd still go to SL in a heartbeat. But I am less concerned about the visual now. I felt led to take our group to a conference and that was the closest one that fit in our time frame. I have always wanted to try a different one so here was my chance. I'm glad we went.

    Hope this helps,

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Want to make a difference in the long run? Consider this...

    "You will almost always overestimate what God will do through you in the short run, but you will almost always underestimate what God wants to do through you in the long run." -Craig Groeschel, Pastor, lifechurch.tv

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Characteristics of "Next Christians"

    From The Next Christians:

    Next Christians are...

    "Provoked, not offended..."

    "Creators, not critics..."

    "Called, not employed..."

    "Grounded, not distracted..."

    "In community, not alone..."

    "Counter-cultural, not 'relevant'"

    Read this book! -Darien

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Understanding Engineers #8

    An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want." Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog - now that's cool."

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Understanding Engineers #6

    Possibly my favorite since it's so accurate. (yes, I'm a civil engineer) DG

    "Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"