Easter 2012 Recap

We had an amazing Easter weekend!  Here is a little recap, video from Good Friday and full video from our combined Resurrection Sunday gathering.

Recap

 

Good Friday

 

Resurrection Sunday [Full Video]

What I’ve Learned From Planting [Part 2]

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About a month ago I took a few minutes to share some things we are learning as we plant a new community.  I took some time to share some of the wins.  Here are some things that I’ve learned on a day-to-day basis over the last 13 months.

Vision Is Important

We’ve learned that having a clear and concise vision is important.  The reality is there are close to a hundred evangelical churches in our city so if you want a smorgasbord you can have it.

The tendency is to do to much and spread yourself thin as a young church.   To avoid this we’ve focused on three primary things in how we function as a community:

  1. Corporate worship on Sundays
  2. Meeting house to house
  3. Releasing every person in our church to be a missionary (living on mission) in the city

Less On The Organization More On The Individual

I’ve been a pastor for seven years now and I have always found it amusing when people pose the question, “what is the church doing for the poor, the city, for this, for that, etc..”

I’ve always wondered why there is so much pressure on the church as an organization and very little expectation on the people who are the church.

Since we’ve started City View my answer to this question is another question.  “What are you doing as a Jesus follower?”

We are working hard to shift from everything on the organization to more on the people who are the church.  Our vision is to empower people in our corporate gathering on Sundays and from house to house throughout the week so that they can go and accomplish the mission of God in the city.

This doesn’t mean we won’t do things corporately for the marginalized.  We have already started a ministry that gives away thirty or so lunches in the downtown core after our gatherings.  It also doesn’t mean we won’t do certain things corporately to reach out to the community.

What it does mean is that we are not putting the mission simply on the organization.  Less on the organization more on the people who are the church!

Calling People To “Be” The Church Isn’t Easy

We have a lot to work to do in the West.  I don’t have all the answers but I’ve learned that it’s almost unique now to call people to be the church.

I am convinced theologically that God is not just creating for himself individuals.   He’s creating for himself a people, the church, who are called to be priests to care and serve one another (1 Peter 2).

When you emphasize this in your community your growth may be slower.  The reality is a lot of people want an event or to be entertained.

We have cautioned ourselves from simply herding people in and out of a church service.

Calling people to something greater isn’t easy.

A Church Plant Won’t Solve Your Church Problems

If someone is burnt out and critical on the global church from the beginning, a church plant is not going to help their church problems.  If anything it is going to illuminate those problems because things are typically smaller and in the beginning stages of getting established.

Often people think something new will change their struggles with the church.  In most cases it’s just not true.

Prayer Is The Engine For Everything

I have learned over the last 13 months that prayer is everything.

When we work to do things as the church and we do not pray we are basically declaring ourselves as God.

I have learned quickly that we do not bring growth.  We do not sustain.  We do not save.  We do not change.  We do not transform.  God does.

If we do not dwell in Him and if we do not ask him to move for His glory we are simply missing the point.

Keller On The Gospel

The gospel does not say, “the good are in and the bad are out,” nor “the open-minded are in and the judgemental are out.”  The gospel says the humble are in and the proud are out.  The gospel says the people who know they’re not better, not more open-minded, not more moral than anyone else, are in, and the people who think they’re on the right side of the divide are the most in danger.

King’s Cross (p 47)

What I’ve Learned In The Last Year Of Church Planting (Part 1)

Today is the first birthday of City View, a church plant that we started in the center of London, Ontario.  The last year has definitely been the most rewarding year of my life and as I look back we have a lot to celebrate.

I still remember our first morning together like it was yesterday and over the last year we have experienced some great wins and I have personally learned some valuable lessons.

Much of this has been brewing in my brain over the last couple of weeks so let me take a couple of minutes and share.

Today I will post some of the things we are celebrating and tomorrow I will post some things I have learned along this journey so far.

Some Things To Celebrate

Honouring The Past While Serving The Future

What I love about City View is that it has honoured the past while advancing into the future.  We are apart of a greater church community where we share vision and resources.  I’m thankful that Royal View is a church planting church.

A lot of the time new churches start because they think they can do things better.  That was never the heart with City View.  To be honest I pour as much of my time into what happens at Royal View as I do City View.  We love what God has done in the past and we honour that.  We would have it no other way!

 Moving From Programs To Community and Mission Together

One major win for us has been shifting from programs and putting major emphasis on community and mission together.  Programs are not bad, but we would rather see people in community, caring for each other and living out the gospel together.  We don’t have a building so that naturally forces things to be more organic.

Our theme verse in this endeavor is from 1 Thessalonians 2:8 where Paul says, “so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

 Empowering The Priesthood

For those who know me well know that one of my greatest contentions with the church is that we often neglect empowering people to “be the church” and “do ministry”.

There is a lot of talk and there has been a lot written recently as to why young adults leave the church.  There are many complexities as to why this is but I do think that much of this can be attributed to the fact that we put to much emphasis on certain people (leaders, pastor dudes) and less emphasis on the priesthood.

Looking back on this year, one of the things we can most definitely celebrate is people doing ministry!  We don’t have money to pay anyone, yet a whole host of people have given their lives to lead, volunteer and serve the Kingdom of God in London.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  1 Peter 2:9-10

 Church From House To House

From the onset we said that we would put as much emphasis on meeting in groups in homes as we would on our Sunday gatherings.  It has been beautiful to see five groups grow and live on mission together.  They range from groups with no kids, to family friendly groups to a group of young adults that meets to serve and grow with each other.

This has been the strength of City View.  There have even been weeks where we have had as many people in Community Groups as we have had in our Sundays gatherings.

Planting in a Canadian post-Christian context isn’t easy, but I do think we have some things to celebrate.

Below is a video that our kids shot for our birthday party!

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY: Stop The Juggling Act

On Fridays I drop an idea/thought for our leaders.  Here is this weeks musing…

Continually remind yourself that “church” is your new identity in Christ!  This changes the way we move and function as a community.  It is not just about “going to church”.  The real emphasis needs to be on “being the church”.

 

We all know we live in a fluid culture.  Things move fast and it feels sometimes in life like there is a lot to juggle.  This is not the way we think about the church.  Church is not something you juggle.  Church is something you are.

 

The book Total Church has really helped shape our ecclesiology.

 

In the West we continually face the pressure to make “church” a program.  We have our career, decisions, finances, our social lives, our family, sports, school activities, etc. to juggle and we often throw “church life” into the mix (see diagram below).
There a couple major problems with this.  First, it makes church something you turn off and on.  Second, it hinders mission because we are compartmentalizing our lives.  Life simply becomes a juggling act and Jesus is thrown in.  When we throw Jesus into the mishmash of life we remove him from the centre and this leads to greater problems.

 

The reality is that God’s transforming work of salvation saves you from your sin, but it also calls you to be a people (1 Peter 2:9-10).  Instead of viewing the church as another ball to juggle we see in the scriptures that we are people in community and everything we do in life filters through us “being the church”.
This idea should also change the way we function as small communities or in our context Community Groups.  Yes, gathering together both corporately on Sunday and in small communities is vital.  It still goes deeper.  Even our Community Groups need to caution from simply being a place to go on a Wednesday night in someone’s house.  The deeper call is to be a community on mission 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

 

You are the church!

 

Know your identity and know it well!

 

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:11-22 ESV)

Our Lives The Last Couple Of Years

The end of a year always brings a lot of reflection in our lives.

This Christmas I got a new phone.  I was well overdue.  My old phone had over 1200 photos on it that we had taken as a family since August 2009.

Here is our story in photos from the last couple of years.

Dallas Willard & The Beatitudes

“So we must see from our heart that:

Blessed are the physically repulsive,

Blessed are those who smell bad,

The twisted, misshapen, deformed,

The too big, too little, too loud,

The bald, the fat, and the old –

For they are all riotously celebrated in the party of Jesus”

– Dallas Willard