a very good sunday

For the past six weeks we have been planning for an upcoming direct mail campaign. We were blessed with a donor who offered us matching funds and a friend who provided deep discounts on the postcards themselves. As part of the fundraising process, we solicited money from outside sources and planned for a special contribution at LifePoint.

Yesterday was the day for our special contribution. For the uninitiated, a special contribution is simply a second offering. This would be our first special offering since starting LifePoint last year. Doing a special offering during summer is a bit risky because of the unpredictability of attendance patterns. Yet, in order to do the campaign this fall we needed to have this offering in July.

So ... we began promoting it and encouraging people to make plans on how they could help. The Lord smiled down upon us. We had our largest crowd of the summer and the offering even exceeded my own expectations ("Oh ye of little faith," as the King Jim would say). We raised over $3,000 for our direct mail campaign -- in addition to what was given in our regular offering. And all of this from a group of 52 people, many of whom were first or second time guests!

As I introduced the offering, I mentioned that though small in number we are strong in spirit. That was certainly manifested yesterday. As we counted the offering, I was a bit overwhelmed by the faith and trust that people are beginning to have in LifePoint. God is indeed good.


sermon break ... an observation

I'm teaching this weekend from Acts 26 about the implications surrounding how we answer the question "What do you I believe about Jesus?" The chapter is essentially Paul retelling the story of his conversion before Festus and King Agrippa. As I was reading through it I was struck by this section:

"I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them" (Acts 26:9-11).

What struck me about it is this: the opponents of Jesus often take him more seriously than his followers.

the call to conversion

I've been doing a bit of reading to get ready for my next teaching series in August ("Who is My Neighbor?"). It is a series that will look at the local and global implications of being a Christ-follower.

One of the books I just picked up at Barnes & Nobles is "The Call to Conversion: Why is Always Personal But Never Private" by Jim Wallis. It was originally published in the 1980s but was revised in 2005. I didn't go to Barnes & Nobles intending to pick up a book by Jim Wallis. I've heard of Wallis throughout the years and mainly looked at him as a left-leaning wishy washy evangelical. He is the founder of Sojourners, a ministry described as "Christians for justice and peace." You can read his bio on the Sojourner website here.

But I must admit ... this book is beginning to change my opinion of Jim Wallis -- not that my opinion matters to him! In the opening chapters he describes the meaning of conversion and how it applies to both the private and public aspects of life. In essence, as Christ-followers we are enlisted into a new kingdom -- one that has very public manifestations. One of my favorite lines is where he is describing the self-centered nature of American Christianity and talks about our tendency to pray more for parking spaces than world peace.

I must also admit that it has been a pretty hard-hitting book. Not something you would expect from a wishy washy evangelical :-) I'm already thinking that I may make a few copies available next month at LifePoint. Who knows, I may invite Jim Wallis to come out and speak!


new directional signs for church

After having three of our directional signs stolen, we had to order new signs for LifePoint. I used this opportunity to upgrade our signs to something a little nice (and they even weigh less). Here's what they will look like:

pizza for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pizza for ...

Tonya and the girls are in Memphis to visit her parents. Meanwhile, back on the homefront ...

OK, I'm not necessarily your typical bachelor for the week kind of guy. I don't eat only off paper plates or use the same cup over and over. I have reused the same bowl and spoon for cereal, but only after washing them each time. I have shaved -- in fact, I've decided to grow my goatee back while the girls are away.

But I do find that it's easier to eat out than to eat at home. After last night's planning session for LifePoint's booth at CityFest, we had left over pizza. No one would take it so it went in my fridge. And ... I had cold pizza for breakfast. While out and about, I went to Red Brick Pizza for lunch. It was close to where I was going to pick up our new signs. And ... for dinner I will likely the rest of yesterday's pizza.

Cold cereal and leftover pizza. It's not that bad of a life.


two old ladies

I'm sitting at Cosmos, working on graphics for Sunday. Across the way from me are two old ladies, probably in their late 60s or early 70s. After discussing something (I'm not sure what it was because I wasn't listening THAT close) they started fighting like little kids. One threw down her paper and said, "If that's the way you're going to be then I won't even bother." I tried my best to conceal a smile. A part of me wanted to send them to separate rooms for ten minutes.


new series for july

I'm excited about our upcoming series at LifePoint. It's called "Who is My Neighbor?" and looks at our responsibilities as Christ-followers to make a positive difference in our community and world. In some regards, it's part Good Samaritan -- having compassion on those within our walk of life. It's also part global stewardship -- how our choices and actions affect a much larger area than just our immediate circle.

new august teaching series at lifepoint

a disappearing act

Last Sunday, three of our directional signs turned up missing. Not simply misplaced but missing. Stolen. Removed. Evaporated. Three signs, three different intersections. So ... keep an eye out on Ebay for something that looks like this:

now on sale at ebay


the gooses are coming

It's true -- The Gooses are returning to LifePoint for the next LifePoint Cafe on July 30 at 7 PM. They will be our first repeat artist to perform at a LifePoint Cafe. Why? Because I like them! I liken them to an acoustic version of the Barenaked Ladies. OK, they're not as good but getting there.

the gooses will be at lifepoint on july 30

a few good things

Summer is an interesting time for churches, even more so for new churches. Churches experience what is often referred to as the "summer slump," meaning that attendance dips during the summer. My coach says it's even worse for new churches. We've experienced a bit of the summer slump at LifePoint but with many positive signs as well.

We continue to have first time guests at our worship gatherings. We've had guests at our last two events -- beach day and the 4th of July outing. As a church community, we thrive on relationships more than raw numbers. It's about making personal connections.

We're making positive strides towards our next direct mail campaign. We have been blessed by the generosity of individuals and churches (way to go Santee Christian Church!) alike. It's humbling to see so many different people support the LifePoint vision.

We had Steve Denney come out last Sunday and share with us the story of what God is doing in downtown San Diego. Steve and his team are preparing to launch a new church in the heart of the city. At the end of his presentation, we circled around him and asked God's blessing on his effort. We recommitted ourselves to being a church planting church.

As a lead pastor, it's easy to get bogged down with numbers -- they're all around us! But it's more important to be focused on people ... for it's people that matter most to God.


church planting thoughts

Did you know they have boot camps for people who start new churches? It’s true – Tonya and I attended one in Sacramento in January of 2005.

Granted, there are no drill instructors insulting your mother or having you drop and do push-ups. From what I can gather, the food at our boot camp was a bit better than the “other” boot camps you hear about.

At our boot camp, we learned the fundamentals of how to start new churches. During the first session, I can still remember our coach telling us, “We are not sending you out to start a church but churches.” “It’s not about one church but many churches.”

Since everyone in the room was a first-time church planter, it was a bit overwhelming just to think of getting one church off the ground! And here this guy was telling us to expand our vision even more.

I’m glad he did. To truly impact a city or region, we need an expanding number of healthy churches. To reach the most people, we need to be focused on starting a movement and not on building one large church.

Even though LifePoint is not yet one-year-old, I still want to challenge you to think in terms of giving birth to more churches than just ours. God may grow us to the point of sending out a daughter church or starting a satellite campus; he may simply allow us to partner with other churches who have a similar vision.

However God chooses to accomplish this, may we rise to the challenge and help change San Diego along the way.


fourth of july celebration

I've always enjoyed the Fourth of July. As a child, we spent nearly every 4th of July at Fondulac Park in East Peoria. The land in between softball field was transformed into a patriotic celebration. Funded mostly by the Jaycees and Knights of Columbus, this event drew most of East Peoria -- or at least it seemed that way to a young kid.

Once during my high school years, we went to Pekin rather than Fondulac Park. To this day, I'm not sure why. It's not that Pekin was very far away; it was less than 15 minutes away. But it wasn't East Peoria or Fondulac Park. They didn't have the dunk tank or vendors selling hot dogs.

Yesterday we spent the morning hours hitting the free museums at Balboa Park -- the Natural History Museum and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. It's truly a gift that different museums are free every Tuesday.

Later in the day we connected with some fellow LifePointers and headed south to Chula Vista and Coors Ampitheate. A number of local churches were sponsoring fireworks and a free concert by Kirk Franklin and P.O.D. Not necessarily my musical genres of choice, but the event was well-attended and well done. The fireworks were actually pretty impressive.

So ... I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July as much as we did!