Archives For Church

Twenty-five Westsiders joined us today in the Orange Grove Community in Forest Hill to serve the families and friends there.

With 2 jumping castles from Holly Hop, DJay Kelvz, DJay Blazin Fingaz, live music with Steve and Madi, water balloons, and Andre’s touch on the braai — who wouldn’t have fun.

I loved hearing people’s reactions when they asked why and what’s the catch.

I simply responded, “because we wanted to do something for you and there’s no catch.” To which I’d get a huge smile as we walked to get them in line to receive a free wors roll.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14 (NLT)

Jesus came to our neighborhood, so we are going to their’s.

20140208-211142.jpg

20140208-211200.jpg

20140208-211227.jpg

Sunday. 52 a year. Everyone has the same purpose for a church planter yet each one presents its own challenges.

Sometimes you know the challenges. Most of the time you discover them on the fly.

Here is a recap of what our day was like.

1:45 am | Genesis wakes up with teething pain and a runny nose. She was so tired but couldn’t breath so I propped myself up in bed and held her until 3am when I returned her to her bed.

5:30 am| | My alarm goes off and I turn it off as I wish it were a different day other than Sunday. Some pastor I am! I only wanted to sleep not minister to sheep.

5:45 am | my 2nd alarm clock, Judah, calls out for me. In fear of him waking up Genesis, I go and pick him up and bring him to our bed. I tried, but I couldn’t convince him to go back to sleep.

It didn’t matter anyway because Genesis woke up 5 minutes later.

7:30 am | I get our equipment ready for the fleet of cars who come to transfer it to the hall.
20130915-200808.jpg

8:00 am | While the team starts taking the equipment into the hall, we make a stop at the Superspar grocery store down the road to buy bread to make some peanut butter sandwiches for some of the kids. But most importantly, we make our routine trip by the bakery so Judah can get his donut, which is really a pastry with cream.

8:10 am | After giving one the employees at the hall a ride up to the hall and unloading the family and equipment from our car, I drive back to the entrance to put up the flag signs.

I am not too bummed I haven’t delegated this out as I am get a couple minutes—my only couple of minutes alone on Sunday—to be with my Creator in the amazing portrait he creates for me to enjoy.

20130915-201636.jpg

8:20 am | By the time I returned to the hall, the sound system is mostly up and I assess where I need to jump in.

Today, I was the chair guy and the fan guy.

I started setting up the chairs and then when others jumped in to finish it off, I ventured to check on the kids set-up, only to find that their room hosted a party that had the evidence that some people might not remember what happened last night. (See image below).

Now it is getting close to 9 am and one hour from service beginning. They are mopping the last quarter of the room. So with our leaders ready to set-up the kids room, I go in search of a fan to dry the soaked floor. Most places hand-wring their mops, if they wring them at all (which was the case today). They don’t have the fancy mop buckets everywhere here.

20130915-210208.jpg

9:00 am | As I was getting a fan, Steve and the hall crew were making the final sound checks to prepare to have production run-through.

I found the fan with the help of management. In talking to Sylvia, the managers wife, she told me the bar chef’s son was shot last night. Talk about perspective. Suddenly, this fan and the not cleaned floor didn’t matter so much.

I get the fan running to dry off the floor only to run into the hall as they are finishing theist song of the set. I get my mic on to have my mic check and talk the team through the message cues.

We pray for the chef’s son, and give the cue for the band to come up for the closing song in the run-through.

9:40 am | I gather our leaders from all areas and we pray. We’ve done what we can do. Now the rest is up to God. This is a prayer of thanks and dependence knowing He builds the church and not us. We are only tools in His kingdom.

9:45 am | We begin welcoming the few who come early. I get my last coffee in, while conversing with those coming in.

Today was a Bring-n-Braai day. After the service we have Boerewors rolls (similar to a bratwurst, but not so similar). We use this as a way to invite as many people to the weekend experience.

10:00 am | The band starts with “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons and I welcome a couple of the people who are just walking in.

After Steve welcomes everyone and has them shake a hand, I make my way to an open seat. Cool thing is that it was harder to find one today.

I sit down and sing along to love on Jesus and before I know it, the bumper video is playing.

I take a deep breath.

I get my table and chair.

Then I rely on a week of prep to make its way through the craziness of a typical non-typical morning and make sense as I share this life-changing story that I love talking about.

11:05 am | We enjoy the company of each other and some wors rolls.

We make sure that a couple of the people who we know can use it, get the intentional extra rolls for the next couple of days.

Then we clean up and pack up and load out. Only to do it again the next Sunday morning and see what new opportunities we have to navigate.

20130915-211802.jpg20130915-211817.jpg20130915-211825.jpg

Oh. It is becoming a Sunday tradition for the Robinson’s to eat lunch at Wimpy (a fast food restaurant) at the airport. It’s Judah’s request.

20130915-211932.jpg

20130915-212039.jpg

The church could not live if Christ were dead, but because Christ lives the church cannot die. – Oswald Sanders (Spiritual Maturity)

Every Thursday you can find me teaching to my 2001 Neon in my garage. This is how I sharpen my communication skills and pursue excellence.

I put on my microphone. I open up GarageBand and hit record.

I then upload the teaching to our web server and then I email the link to several of our leaders for them to listen at their leisure and send me their feedback.

I refuse to get up on a Sunday morning and give the people my first pass at the teaching. Rarely has my first pass been my best pass so why would I want to give that to God and to the people He’s called me to?

There are many who might read this and ask if this is even necessary? I believe so for the following reasons.

First, I’m still learning my art. Those who have been communicating for a lot longer than I have probably don’t need to rely on a “run through” of their teaching.

Second, excellence is a habit. I love Aristotle’s defining of excellence being what we repeatedly do. I want to be an excellent communicator, so I am creating the habits now to put me on this path of improvement. I hope to keep this habit when I am leagues ahead in my skill than right now.

Third, God deserves my best. I don’t need to elaborate this but I do want to mention the drive to be our best for God is our response to what He has done for us.

Fourth, I set the bar for the people I lead. The effort I put into leading and developing myself sets an example for those in our church. I learned a long time ago that you can teach what you know but you reproduce who you are.

Fifth, it gives me an opportunity to receive feedback which has several benefits. Asking for honest feedback by asking “what doesn’t fit? (It doesn’t need to be mentioned)” and “what needs to be more clear?” makes the teaching better on Sunday. Opening my teaching up for feedback also keeps me humble and remembering that I never arrive. Right now that is easy because I know I’m not as strong of a communicator as will be by continuing this process. One more advantage to opening up your teaching for feedback is those who give the feedback improve as communicators as they develop their skill.

After I record this teaching, I listen to it too and am able to improve the pace, tone, content and make the total delivery have a better chance of hitting home on the weekend.

This practice is crucial for me as a church planter. Sundays get hectic. Set can be rough with people not showing up or equipment not operating. Or we might have a weekend where the hall we rent on Sundays has an event the night before and they decide not to clean it until Sunday morning. These days are always a scramble.

My run-through on Thursday becomes a life saver to me. It is hard to go from problem solver to counselor to motivator to repair man to computer fixer to then teaching.

I prepare like it depends on me but during the week, especially on Sunday, I pray knowing it depends on God.

Soon, I will post the weekly teaching prep schedule that gives me the margin to put more than one evening of prep the night before.

I was emailed an interesting study from the Washington Post giving the projected United Nations statistics of where the world will be in 100 years in population and health.

The projections in this article are comforting and challenging.

Here are the big take-a-ways.

  1. Africa will quadruple in population with Nigeria becoming the 3rd largest country in the world.
  2. The majority of Africa’s growth will be Sub-Saharan.
  3. Life expectancy will grow across the globe.
    • US life expectancy is projected to grow from 77 years old to 89 years old.
    • Asia’s life expectancy is predicted to grow from from 69 years old to 83 years old.
    • Africa’s average life expectancy will dramatically grow from 53 years old to 77 years old.

The Most Impacting Factor

While all of that data is encouraging, the most influential is theDependency Ratio.

A dependency ratio, as I have learned, says there are so many dependent children and elderly to every 100 working adults. (i.e. if it is a 50% dependency ratio then there are 50 children or elderly to 100 working adults.

Currently, 80% of Africa is either under the age of 15 or over 65 years old. To understand the stat, let me simply switch the percentage. Switching the numbers, 20% of Africa between 15 to 65 years old.

Eight of ten people on the continent of Africa are dependent on 2 working adults. This currently is unsustainable. But the future brings hope.

In the next 50+ years, the numbers show a tremendous improvement. By 2060, the dependency ratio drops to below 60%. This means six of ten people will be under 15 or over 65 years old.

What Does this Mean for the Church?

More churches will be needed to reach the growing population.
As the population increases, church planting will become a critical component in reaching the growing cities with the Gospel of Jesus.

Churches will need to innovate as the culture innovates.
Growing cultures mean expanding ideas. The church can choose to grow in innovation or chose to let the culture out pace them. If culture out-paces the church, then the church will struggle to catch up to speaking the language and being effective in communicating the truth of Jesus.

Innovation means an increase in transporting information. People will be using different communication tools that will enable the church to share Jesus’ story with larger groups of people. This will also increase the churches ability to disciple others to follow Jesus in new ways.

Churches will need to have a stronger ministry to the whole family.
Churches will need to expand their ministry influence. Instead of focussing on a target audience, each church will need to expand their reach to an older target as the age expectancy grows.

These are exciting numbers for the church. We need to embrace the future and pray for wisdom to know how to change and pray for courage to set aside our current templates and try something new.

You can read the full article here.

20130719-103029.jpg

Church planters, take note. This isn’t a good way to promote your service:

If you are seeking God, have backslidden & want to return or are looking for a Church family, you are very welcome to attend.

I saw this in local ad for a church here in my community.

What are some of the bad phrasings you’ve seen churches use?

It’s a conflict. You want to have quantity, but does quality come first? You want quality, but sometimes it means that quantity isn’t quick.

We have quality, just not the quantity… yet.

We are starting healthy just not with hundreds. But that is okay.

We have people far from God attending regularly, and that is exciting. We have people, whom we baptized after our second preview service, growing in discipleship. We have families, who joined us on Easter, coming back and have made us their church home.

We believe we have great quality services that everyone says they love to come to. But here lies the main problem we are trying to fix. How do we get more people in the building?

Is it location? Is it marketing? Is it we aren’t giving away a new iPad mini? hmmm… there’s an idea.

Attractional vs Missional

There has been a debate in the states over the last 2-3 years that the shift has been moving from attractional to missional. I am a big believer in the attractional model. We need to make this accessible to those outside the faith and far from God. We need to make the environment irresistible and be aware that they are coming to our services. And we need to engage them.

I also believe that attrational is missional by having the goal to introduce them to Jesus.

But there is a missional argument that has weight and is a strong argument for a post-Christian era. Where we have more de-churched than unchurched, they are less willing to step into a church due to baggage of a previous experience with a christian or church. Whatever their reason, their perspective is their reality and we have the call to make the gospel of Jesus relevant to them.

The debate now is that you have to be missional or attractional. I have never agreed on the either or, but have stood with the leaders who embrace a both/and model.

However, I have changed my mentality on this in the last month in a South African context. Where I was thinking that attractional would be the way to get people in our doors. Advertising a family driven service that is excellent and appeals to the consumer hasn’t been a draw here.

We have had more return from the individual relationships being built (missional) and it only makes sense in a dominantly relational culture.

Instead of thinking the attraction of a family driven church, targeting kids, is the pull, I’m approaching the key to getting people in the doors missionally (relationally) and seeing the attractional aspects of our service as what keeps them.

The feedback we have collected from guests, who have become regular attendees, is they love the experience. We are just trying to get their friends and our community to experience it too.

That being said, I’m grateful for the quality we have but I want more of it. I want more people to discover the life and joy that putting their trust in Jesus as their Savior will bring them.

All that to say, keep praying for us. We believe we are on the verge of seeing this explode, and we are praying and seeking God’s wisdom, direction, plan, purpose and timing – like crazy!

Hundreds of bottles of water.
One hundred seventy loaves of bread.
Hundreds of people served.

Why?

Because we are the church!

I love it when someone asks “What’s the catch?”

Like they are use to having a bait placed before their eyes expecting to find a hook inside.

“No catch,” we reply.

And to see their smile as they walk away is priceless.

We didn’t want them to listen to a teaching on the reasons why they are sinners.

We didn’t ask them to give a donation to a cause.

We only wanted them to know we care for them.

That’s why we left the building. That’s why we didn’t have church by having a service and why we were the Church by meeting the needs of a few people today.

A couple weeks ago we taught the big idea: We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.

Last Sunday, our big idea was: Jesus calls us to be disciples who are identified by our love.

Today, we loved on people by serving them. Why? Because Jesus served us and asked us to love one another.

I want people to see Westside Family Church and say “look at how they love!”

I want this showing of love to be the first introduction to Jesus’ love for those who don’t know about Jesus’ love and grace.

I want people to say they want to know Jesus because they have gotten to know the people of Westside Family Church.

It isn’t why we chose bread and water, but I like to think, by giving away bread, we were giving people a taste of the “bread of life.” By giving water, we were being a source of life, in the name of the Source that never runs dry. I want people to discover Jesus. Because He is the bread of Life and the water that will never run dry.

Today wasn’t a push to get people into a seat next Sunday. Today was a campaign just to let people know we love them.

I’m grateful for the people who made today a success! (Those pictured and those not pictured.)

20130414-202937.jpg

20130414-202949.jpg

Westside Family Church in Port Elizabeth is a church who believes church isn’t a facility or a building. While that is a church by common definition, we believe the meaning of church is more dynamic than static. We believe the church is a movement of people who follow Jesus.

Right after Jesus resurrected, He gave His disciples the mandate to go and make disciples. The disciples had no facility. No governing body. No education on how a service should be held. They did have the Holy Spirit living in them & the greatest message this world has ever known, the good news that Jesus came and lived the perfect life, died to eliminate the curse for our sins, and He rose again to prove He was God. With Holy Spirit living inside them, the Gospel message and a new command from Jesus to Love One Another, the Church began.

Westside doesn’t want to merely exist in our community, we want our community to feel our impact. The Church’s presence will be felt when we leave the four walls of what is comfortable to us and engage our community by serving them.

So, this Sunday, we are not coming to church. Rather, Westside is going to BE the Church by serving our community during the Iron Man Race. We like to call it THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING… (make sure you say that with your “announcer” voice and have an echo at the end of it).

We would love to have you join as we are Loving Jesus, Becoming like Jesus, and Sharing Jesus with our community.

Here are some opportunities to serve:

  • Giving away water bottles to those in attendance (NOT THE RUNNERS!)
  • Handing out bread to those who are hungry and praying for them.
  • Picking up garbage around the beachfront
  • Preparing on Thursday night

Sign-up here.

 

On Sunday I get to teach on Easter. I’ve never done this and I can’t wait to do it! If you think of WFC South Africa or the Robinson’s on Easter Sunday, say a prayer for our First Easter Services.

We have been passing out invites like crazy. Yesterday, we gave out free water bottles with an invite attached to it. The response to receiving something free from a church created a buzz, so much, that when Cassie went to the gym this morning, people were talking about receiving the free bottle of water from the church up the road.

Love it. And I’ll love it more when people get to hear about the resurrection on Sunday!

20130316-191652.jpg