Sharpen Your Creativity: Copy

It has been about six months since I first read about Scott Ginsberg, the name tag guy. It only took a couple of days of thinking, sending an e-mail to Scott and asking permission from my family before I started wearing my nametag. So if you live in Paulding County you know I didn't come up with this all by myself.

It was just a simple idea but it was one of those "Aha" moments for me. I've meet so many neat people, connected with more people, had more conversations with strangers and made more friends than I could have imagined. A couple of Sundays ago, some of the youth got together and wore "Ken" name tags in the service. It reminded of a simple saying youth ministers have shared for years:

"The essence of creativity is the ability to copy."

The thing about a copy, is it is always a bit different from the original. I'm not Scott, I'm Ken so already my name tag is different. But it isn't just that, creativity means you start with the copy and make it your own, you don't leave it how you found it. What I'm discovering after six months of "name tagging" is that I'm different...

I'm friendlier.
At least I feel that way. Wearing a name tag has made it so much easier to start conversations with complete strangers. Whether it is me or them, conversations seem to just pop up.

I'm more accountable.
When people know who you are you tend to more aware of who you are.

I'm more approachable.
Kind of like the first one except people I don't know call me by name. I've been "employed" recently by Home Depot, Michael's and Target (BTW, don't ever go to Target with a red shirt and khakis, I don't know how I manage to do this regularly).

I'm having more fun.
For all of my tendencies toward administration and being disciplined, I'm still the baby in the family and have to cut lose a bit. Who says pastors can't have fun?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the wits of another. (Proverbs 27:17 GW)




May I Ask: What have you read recently that has inspired you to copy an idea? How's it going?

May I Suggest: Be attentive to what you see and read this week. Find one good idea you can copy and make it better. Share here what you learned!

When do you find time to rest?

I've taken this week off from blogging to allow my blog on stories to be front and center. It hasn't been easy, but the time away did me good...I think.

Today was my day off. For me it is sabbath time. And today for the first time since moving to Paulding County, I took off down the trail solo. I went to Pickett's Mill Battlefield which is about 8 minutes from house. It was incredible! I certainly felt the effects of not being on the trail for a while but that was the only negative.

Three and a half miles. I saw no one else on the trail during my time. I laughed at squirrels and played catch-up with a white-tailed deer. I had time to pause at a stream and took care of creation by picking up all the trash I saw.

So what about you? When do you find time to rest? Or may I ask, when do you make time to rest, re-create and renew yourself? When do you allow time for God to simply speak and you shut your mouth?

I know it isn't easy. Really I do. Remember, it has been a year and a half since I've done something like today, something I know allows me to connect with God in a more personal way. It was hard to get it together this morning to make it happen but I needed it. You do too.



May I Ask: When did you last TAKE A DAY OFF?

May I Suggest: Pull out your calendar and sometime in the NEXT TWO WEEKS, make an appointment with yourself IN PEN to do something YOU LOVE.

The Power of Your Story



This week at Due West UMC we're sharing stories. Not just any stories but your story. As part of our series on Just Walk Across the Room, everyone has been invited to share their faith story, simply, concisely and in 100 words or less. Send your story to our pastoral staff and we'll help folks with the telling of their story with thumbs up, thumbs down or some suggestions to help tweak it just a little.

I think this is a great idea. Since it is a challenge we're giving, it seemed only right for Tom and I, as pastors, to post our own stories in 100 words or less. If they are a help, great! Hey, if you think we can do better, feel free to tell us too...

Pastor Tom’s Story

I grew up with a “supper time” understanding of God… you know “God is Great! God is Good! Let us thank Him for our food.” I understood God had these general attributes and would be pleased if I had them too. I worked hard at being “great and good”. No matter what I did, I was never successful enough or good enough, but I was depressed and confused. When I asked Jesus to make my heart his home, I quit striving for approval and the clouds of depression and confusion left. I now have a sense of purpose and joy I never thought possible.



Pastor Ken's Story

Growing up, I saw that image seemed to be everything. People judged others on what they could do, how they dressed, what they had and what they knew. I came to realize I just could not measure up with what the world demanded. I grew angry without hope for my future. But a couple of leaders who were in my Scout troop and who volunteered at church, accepted me for who I was. Their actions showed me grace, that God saw me differently. I chose to follow Jesus and began living with peace, hope and a future.


There you go, our before and after. If you'd like any help with your story, you can send it to stories.duewest@yahoo.com


NOTE: We'll be taking stories until Saturday, October 27th. Your story will not be shared with anyone else or posted on the web.

North Paulding High School's FIRST Homecoming Parade


It was a special moment. Lets remember first time moments only happen once. You don't get to redo and yesterday was a great first Homecoming Parade for North Paulding High School.

Just spending a few moments mingling allowed me to meet a proud dad of a band member and did all those parents have something to be proud of too! There was roughly 20 members in the band. They sounded like 50 and played with experience.

The Homecoming Court and football team conducted themselves with class and style. One of the young men asked me politely if I'd like a souvenir cup. Then he didn't throw it but walked over and handed it to me. That was classy.

A few other floats followed and the parade ended with the Beta Club. Parents and neighbors in Seven Hills walked up and down the Seven Hills Blvd. Since we don't have a main street, Seven Hills proved an ideal location for the parade. It was exciting to see the community out supporting the school and its leaders. Hats off to Susan Browning, the staff of NPHS, the boosters, the PTA and the businesses that supported this event.

You only get the opportunity for one first and North Paulding High School and the community made the most of it yesterday. Congratulations! Go Wolfpack!

Lest we forget how new this North Paulding community really is, there are many more firsts to come our way. The opportunities new starts and "firsts" give, are reminders that hope still exists in our world, our communities and our neighborhoods. Take advantage of each one that comes your way.




May I Ask: What "firsts" are happening around you? Are you making time?

May I Suggest: Keep a note pad or your day planner handy in your car. This way you can write down dates and times of "first" events and help support when you can.

YouVersion: Shared Knowledge or Ignorance?

I'm excited about playing around in Lifechurch.tv's new playground known as YouVersion.

It is their Beta release so you know that means it is time to ship with some bugs that need to be worked out. The concept is certainly an interesting one: making an online version of the Bible which the community can interact with, comment on, link to, etc. The implications for sharing and expanding knowledge and resources are incredible. I can see how pastors, teachers, leaders and students can find all types of resources and helps for ministry.

BUT...

...is it more an opportunity for shared ignorance than shared knowledge? How many cute e-mail spam messages will find a home (other than my trash can) connected to a Bible verse? How much disinformation will be made available?

Look, my hat is off to LifeChurch.tv for their innovation and work. I'm not trying to rain on their parade, because I'm sure they've weighed the possibilities. I'm going to sign-up today. We just need to realize the reality that Richard Watson points out, namely...
...we shouldn’t get too hung up on technology. The reason that many of our scientific fantasies haven’t made it into reality is that many innovators and futurists sometimes make the mistake of forgetting about human history and psychology. Technology tends to change fast and exponentially, while people tend to change slowly and incrementally.

While most of us get excited (obsessed maybe a better word) with innovations, not everyone tends to move so fast. Maybe all of us who serve as leaders, in business or church, need to pause and reflect on whether our own thoughts are sometimes just "alpha" or "beta" versions and not ready for a full-fledged public release.



May I Ask: Ever used a Beta release presented too early? Ever released an idea or product too early yourself? What did you learn?

May I Suggest: Before going too far, release your idea(s) with a few trusted friends/colleagues and give them time and freedom to pick it apart. Remember: to build bigger muscles, you have to tear the old ones down.

Faith has faults but can we still be friends?

The last few weeks at Due West UMC as we have been teaching on Bill Hybels' book, Just Walk Across the Room, have been great. The stories in small groups and comments about how it has helped Christ-followers clear away much of the misnomers about evangelism have been encouraging. As a new church pastor, it has helped me to clear away some of my own confusion and focus on who often gets lost in the process of sharing the Faith: the other person.

Which is why reading this post from Greta Christina's Blog on Atheists and Anger, has been so humbling (if you're easily offended, be warned there is adult content). (H/T to Mark @ The Calladus Blog.) Disagree with her and me if you want but she has some very valid points some of which include:

I'm angry that so many believers treat prayer as a sort of cosmic shopping list for God.

I'm angry at preachers who tell women in their flock to submit to their husbands because it's the will of God, even when their husbands are beating them within an inch of their lives.

I'm angry at the Sunday school teacher who told comic artist Craig Thompson that he couldn't draw in heaven.

I'm angry -- enraged -- at the priests who molest children and tell them it's God's will.

I get angry when religious believers make arguments against atheism -- and make accusations against atheists -- without having bothered to talk to any atheists or read any atheist writing.

These were just a few of the many points which Greta makes about her experience with religion/Christianity.

Seeing What You Can't See

I knew from the title of the post to be prepared and yes, it was shocking. But Marcia Conner recently pointed out, "If you ask for a wide range of views, especially from those beyond your usual circles, you increase your potential to see what you can't see." It has been a while since I was moved to tears but Greta's words did just that and allowed me to see what I couldn't see.

Beyond Logical Arguments

I cannot agree with all Greta's thoughts and points but I don't have to and neither do any of us. The point is that there exists a world of people of who've been hurt deeply by religion. Churches need not run from that and neither should Christ-followers. What convicts me more and concerns me even more deeply is how we have gotten to the point we are unable to make friends with people who are not Christian. Can we even look beyond trying to make an "air-tight logical argument" and just be someone's friend?

Starting On Common Ground

I've got a friend named Kenny who is a huge Washington Redskins fan. I'm a Dallas Cowboy fan. Pro football has NOT been the basis for our friendship. We can both agree on the East Carolina Pirates and shared disdain for all other NC football schools.

All of us are going to find different points of common ground, (Scott Ginsberg calls this CPI: Common Points of Interest). I don't know personally most of the folks writing most blogs. My favorites usually appear to me to have a healthy sense of humor, plus they like to read and are educated. For most human beings, those would appear as three CPIs and the place most of us start friendships. NOT at our points of difference.

The Proverbial Ball is in Your Court

If you've ever been treated rudely you know it is not a pleasant experience. So why do it to anyone who you want to get to know? Blogs are usually not aimed at specific individuals (unless noted) so why take it as a personal offense? If you would like to take the ball and run in that direction you certainly can. Me, I've been elbowed, kicked and punched by best friends in games and didn't take it personal.

Jesus always saved his harshest words for religious leaders. As an ordained clergy, this should (and does) remind me that the ball is often in my court and people are watching how I respond. But each day, the ball can bounce different ways, what are you going to do when it bounces into your hands? Can we still be friends?



May I Ask: How did you last respond in a conflict? Do you regret it? Are you proud of it? Why or why not?

May I Suggest: Take a moment today and think about your newest friend. How did that friendship get started? What CPIs do you share? What role does faith play?

"My Documents"

H/T to John @ Locust and Honey:

What makes youth ministry, ministry?

H/T to John for being a great dad and spending time with his daughter and sharing with us her perspective on youth ministry.

Having spent nearly 10 years in youth ministry full-time, I often feel regrets that I didn't do enough. There was (and still is) a lot of pressure on youth ministers to be the guru / expert / superstar / show-off / almost-messiah like leader of teens. But who does that come from? Not usually from teenagers, at least not those who are living real life and who are figuring out that being a teen is a crash course on the rest of life.

As the lead pastor for a church launch, I get the "opportunity" to set the tone for a whole church, including the youth ministry. I have the opportunity to reflect on my experience but also question what we did and what we will be doing in a new church.

I've found the readings at RETHINKING YOUTH MINISTRY to be refreshing. I've also run across some good thoughts at Youth Specialties (though they are also quite the "big box store" version of youth ministry too). But today I found there an article written by Mike Yaconelli where Mike writes the following...

Youth ministry is a good idea. But there's a better idea...

Youth group is good.

But there's a better good.

It's called church.

Not youth church, or contemporary church, or postmodern church. Just plain, boring, ordinary church. Yes, that's right. Church. The place where people who don't know each other get to know each other; where people who normally don't associate with each other, associate; where people who are different learn how to be one.

Mostly, church is the place where we can grow old together. And it turns out that growing old together is still the best way to bring lasting results with students. Growing old together is where we teach (and learn from) each other what discipleship means in the everyday world.
(Click for full article)

If teens aren't butting up against conflict and issues of life, how can we call it ministry? If they aren't dealing with adults and being given the opportunity to fail and experience grace, how can it be ministry? Is it about the number at UMYF, the Edge, Oasis, Harbor, Impact, Zone, (insert cool hip name)? Is it cell groups, youth bands, mission trips, retreats, DNow? What makes youth ministry, ministry?

What I guess I'm really asking is what makes church, church? Because if those confirmed, convicted, transformed and baptized young people aren't involved in the life of the church, are we really the Church?

I am still wrestling with this and I imagine I will be for some time. It isn't just that I want to see a youth ministry at Nexus UMC, I want to see teenage Jesus-followers and disciples at Nexus UMC.


May I Ask: How are teens INVOLVED in your church or organization?

May I Suggest: Inquire about teenager involvement with leaders. If they aren't involved, advocate for some teen input and support the teenagers involved.

Creeping Towards REAL Crisis in North Georgia

On Monday this past week, I was talking with my Cub Scouts about the water crisis we're facing. I half-joked about how they'll soon be taking a shower every other day.

But here is what we discovered later in the week. You may know sixty-one counties in North Georgia have been under a watering ban for months. Yesterday it was reported that North Georgia's Water Shortage has taken it's toll on Lake Lanier. At current levels, Lanier, the primary water supply for Metro Atlanta will last about 4 months. It appears that Alabama has finally taken the situation seriously and established watering bans as well.

Landscaping companies are already feeling the strain. Soon, other businesses that depend on water will have to respond. Decisions will have to be made about environmental impact as we try to insure there is safe drinking water in metro Atlanta.

We are approaching (or possibly past) the point of the United Methodist Church responding to what may become a disaster. Our Social Principles address the issue of Consumption. This is a place to start.

For those of us right here in Metro Atlanta, we ought to become more diligent to our actions. Sites such as Conserve Water Georgia! provide ideas for both Homeowner Tips and Business Tips to be more aware of water usage and conservation.

It is time for us as consumers of natural resources,"...including local congregations and Church-related institutions..." to not just speak but to act.




May I Ask: What do you think of conservation and environmental concerns? How has it effected you personally? In your community?

May I Suggest: Take some time to learn what is happening in North Georgia or in your community. What maybe a small concern can become an even bigger crisis. Get involved.

Times, they are a changing...

A lot of people have gotten credit for the saying,

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."

It used to be in many cases, doing what you've always done got someone a whole lot! At the Crossroads in North Paulding sits Grogan's Grocery. When Grogan's was the only place in North Paulding to buy groceries, they just did what they'd always done. Today, Kroger's is on the opposite corner and Grogan's is just a landmark.

That could be the state of any church and any business. As we move further into the 21st century and the future continues to move at us faster, we might ought to say it this way:
"If you are doing what you've always done, you may not get anything at all."

I've been reading Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. As a church planter, I've read through some of Stetzer's work before and David and I have had a few conversations. While we're not on the same page for everything, for those unfamiliar with the idea of the "missional church," I recommend this book without a doubt.

In chapter 12 which deals with Partnerships and Networks, Stetzer and Putnam ask a great question:
"What is the role of the denomination in the missional church movement?"

That is, I think, a multi-million dollar question and it is so precisely because of the amount of money being spent to uphold bureaucracies when there is a crying need for the Kingdom of God to expand. So without venturing too far down any rabbit trails, any and all of us connected to institutions, denominations, corporations and head offices, would do well to reflect on a few points Stetzer and Putnam bring up but asked in my own words.

1. What is the litmus test for who a worthy partner is?
Is it ideology, practicality, theology or missiology?

2. Can they stay off of headlines for things that don't matter?
It is like election years, do the head of the "parties" hurt or help?

3. Do they actually build meaningful bridges with others?
Are they moving beyond their circle of comfort and finding new effective partners?

4. Are they adding value to the mission?
Does what happen on the top floor make meaning on the ground floor?

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and we believe that is done in the local church (if you weren't aware of this you can check out a Book of Discipline but you might prefer taking me at my word). I think the UMC is uniquely organized, equipped and poised to do the missional work which John Wesley envisioned over 200 years ago and that Jesus Christ launched over 2,000 and that God has been doing since the Fall: inviting disconnected people to get connected to God.

My wife jokes about a saying I have that I never realized I said. Apparently, when things are beyond my control, I frequently say, "It is what it is." And it is but to that phrase let me add "...it ain't yet what it can be." My thanks to God that indeed, times, they are a changing...





May I Ask: What happened the last time you went "against the flow?" How did it change you? How about those around you?

May I Suggest: Look at your Circle of Influence, those people or events you are really connected with and do something!

Thinking about Church Planting?

Church planting is the "in" thing right now, so "in" that there are whole new businesses being set-up for it, consultants who are making a living off sharing their ideas and experience and a whole lot of books and blogs, too numerous to name. As much as I get tempted to pass on my "opinions", this doesn't seem the right place. What I will tell you is some of my story and let you know, for all you think you know, for all the books you read and people you talk to, church planting isn't "all that and a bag of chips." It is tears, work, prayer, sweat, love, passion, family, pain, more prayer, more faith than you'll ever have and all the grace God can give.

When I began my faith journey as a Junior in High School, I offered to God my life to use how He would. It seemed the right way. It was the way God continued to open doors and lead. Through College and on to Seminary, God's grace opened doors and I continued to grow in my faith and trust in God.

In the midst of dealing with cancer and depression in 2000, I sensed God's leading in a new way. I began exploring new possibilities and felt God calling me to seek ordination as a Deacon in the United Methodist. I knew God wanted me to be a youth minister so it wouldn’t make any sense to be ordained as an Elder and possibly be appointed as a pastor! But then one night in August of 2003, I woke in the night and wrote down on paper the vision for a new church.

I can tell you this rocked my world. It may seem to you a short step from a youth pastor to an ordained Elder but for me it was more like trying to leap the Grand Canyon. But I had to do something.

For Heather and I it was a retelling of Abraham and Sarah. It was and is a journey of faith. I remember clearly the evening when Heather said to me, “I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife.” To this I responded from my heart, “that makes two of us cause I didn’t want to be a pastor.” We begin at that point to reflect on where we would go…
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8, 11-12 NASB)

In 2006 I was appointed to Due West UMC in Marietta with the plan to start a new United Methodist Church in neighboring Paulding County, percentage wise, one of the top 10 fastest growing counties in the U.S. It is an area dominated by young families but with minimal infrastructure, many feel disconnected. The majority of families are not connected to any church.

This new church will begin in 2008. No, we don’t have a building and we don’t have land. Our team of leaders is just beginning to form. Some of them are neighbors and some, new friends from Due West. Acworth UMC is not far and the pastor and church have felt God’s leading to partner with the start of this new church to help people connect, follow and become disciples.

Make no mistake, this is an adventure in what Authentic Faith is all about. “Do something,” writes Oswald Chambers, “the test of faith is in not doing.” Starting a church is the call to do something. It is the conviction that God desires a new church in this land where He sent us. A church where disconnected people become connected. It is for children and families who don't know what a pastor does. It is for families who are looking for a church, looking for God, looking for people of Authentic Faith.

What is amazing to me is how quickly you begin to fall in love with the people you get connected to. It is exciting and humbling to see new friends take ownership and share the concern for what is happening. Thinking about church planting? Great, but be sure to do more than think, start on your knees in prayer, then do something.





May I Ask: What has been your impressions of church planting?

May I Suggest: Do some searches and read some blogs from church planters. Share what you learn here.

Don't just walk...

For the next four weeks Due West UMC is doing a church-wide study of Bill Hybel's book, Just Walk Across the Room.

I'm excited about all the classes participating because there are different age groups taking part. When you live in a world today where there are neighborhoods segregated by ages, the more the generations get together the better especially when it comes to sharing our faith with authenticity.

Now I know faith sharing (evangelism) isn't the politically correct thing to do. It isn't the compassionate thing some would say. Sharing ones faith is termed as arrogant, cocky, rude, disrespectful and in some cases, hateful.

What is often missed or not considered is the life of and mind of the person taking the walk and trying to be a friend. We have to ask, "Is the goal to rack up another notch or to be a friend?" Before taking the walk, Christ-followers ought to consider, do you...
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

Faith sharing isn't about grasping an idea or concept. It has little or nothing to do with the right theology and the amount of knowledge.

It has everything to do with the words, "nothing" - "servant" - "humble" - "death." It means we can be friends with others without being friends with "the world." It isn't about "us versus them," it is just about us, people connecting to people.

That is why Jesus came. It is why Christ-followers serve in homeless shelters and serve for a lifetime oversees. It is why we start churches and it is why we walk across rooms. For us.




May I Ask: What is different about Apple having evangelists and the Church having evangelists?

May I Suggest: Look at the differences and what can be learned. What do you find? Share it here!

Risking Something or Nothing?

Reflecting on the Church can be a convoluted undertaking. So many diverse voices and so many distinct ideas cause a great deal of confusion. Of course the distinction between "a church" (a localized gathering of Christ-followers) and "the Church" (referencing ALL Christ-followers) tends to be a starting place where people get confused.

Today, in the Church, there are a few different streams of thought unfolding about where the Church is headed. Different churches (in the west primarily) are handling the cultural changes with different approaches.

From the outset, I don't agree with Mark Driscoll on some things. Thankfully, in the Church, it really doesn't matter. What he identifies in this interview are 4 different streams of thought which deal with what is happening in the Church and how different churches are responding:



Being missional is far from something "reformed churches" have a monopoly on. What is before the Church and within churches, is a healthy reflection and discussion on what it means to be the Church, what it means to be Jesus-followers and in all cases it is a movement to risk.

In their book The Upside, Adrian J. Slywotzky and Karl Weber address risks that face business but also, I think, the same risks inherent in the decisions and discussion found in how churches respond to culture.
They are namely:

project risk (when your next big initiative fails)

customer risk (when customers abandon you)

transition risk (when unexpected changes in technology or business design undermine your company)

unique competitor risk (when a Wal-Mart rides roughshod over your industry)

brand risk (when your brand becomes irrelevant or unappealing)

industry risk (when your industry becomes a no-profit zone)

stagnation risk (when growth grinds to a halt)

(How To Help Your Company Focus on the New World of Risk)

The model should for the Church and ultimately churches, reflect the risk taking of Jesus Christ...

...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)
Everyday and every moment is opportunity to take risk. Jesus-followers ought not be slowed or stopped by risks for it is in moments where we risk it all, the world catches glimpses of our authenticity and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.




May I Ask: How did it feel the last time you took a risk? How did it change you?

May I Suggest: Look for places to risk today, even if it is something small. Do it and share what you learned here.

The Life Saving Station


"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 NASB)

I had some good part-time jobs through the years one of which was as a lifeguard. As a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor and pool manager, I trained and reinforced the idea of an old adage: REACH, THROW, ROW and GO to remind rescuers. One of the things I observed however was that when you’re dealing with kids, the first reaction of lifeguards is to go. This is one of the reasons why coverage is so important, why more than one lifeguard is necessary at pools and waterfront.

When there is a story or movie or show that features lifeguards, I tend to pay close attention. If you remember the first season of Baywatch, it actually featured lifeguards saving people! One of my favorite stories tells of a place…

"Many years ago, there was a small life-saving station located on the shore of a dangerous body of water. This life-saving station had no professional staff members. It was manned by volunteer help. Whenever there was a shipwreck, the news would reach the town; and the volunteers would rush to the life-saving station, and row out into the sea to rescue the shipwreck. Through the years they saved many lies. In fact, they saved so many lives that they found themselves wondering what to do with all the money that was enclosed in the letters of thanks from those who had been rescued. Finally, they decided to build an ornate life-saving clubhouse and buy bigger and better boats. Eventually, they didn't want to desecrate their beautiful clubhouse with dirty, cold, wet people. One day at one of the clubhouse meetings, a man stood up and said, "Now, I'm getting sick and tired of what I see in our life-saving station." One of the others said, "What are you tired of?" He answered, "I can remember when we really went out from the original life-saving station and actually saved lives."

So a group split off and they went down to the seashore a short distance and started another life-saving station. But in a few years, the same thing happened to them that had happened to the first group. They finally found themselves in a fancy life-saving clubhouse not saving anyone. They then split, and another station was started, and another and another. "It is said that you can drive along that stretch of seashore today, and find many life-saving clubhouses." When there is a shipwreck, however, there are no survivors. Everyone dies because nobody is saving lives anymore.”


It was a good thing to start new lifesaving stations, but it is unfortunate for it to come out of desperation. The mission of a lifeguard is to save the lives of others. So a lifesaving station which doesn’t save life is an oxymoron, it is a contradiction.

Which is precisely the point Jesus was making to the people gathered around him on the mountainside. "If I am the light of the world, shouldn't me followers also be the light?" It was Jesus’ sense of humor coming through. How can you give salt back it’s saltiness? How can you hide a city on a hill? Who lights a lamp just to cover it back up again?

Salt is a stable compound. It is either salty or it doesn’t exist as salt. In Jesus’ day, many cities were made of limestone and built on the top of hillsides for protection. When the sunlight hit them the city would, in essence, glow. And a lamp, it is meant to be seen, to give off light.

Jesus was clear that while he was in the world, he was the light. But in these words, he was looking to the future, to a time where His followers, would
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 5:13-16).


A couple of weeks ago, our family went to see the movie, “Surf’s Up,” a movie about, well, surfing. The first thing I noticed on the beach? There was only one lifeguard. Sure enough, at the end of the movie when two surfers go into the water, there is only one lifeguard and she can’t rescue both. It was Geek, the washed up former surfing champ, who braves the waves, risks his life and makes himself to be the lifesaving station.

Next year Due West is leading the way in starting a new church because we are a mission outpost, we have been a lifesaving station for many. But we have a coverage problem, there aren’t enough lifesaving stations. In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans. In 1950, 17. In 2000, 12. In 2004, 11. (The State of the Church in the U.S.)One mission outpost, one lifesaving station like Due West isn’t enough anymore, it is time for the Geek to get in the water. So here I am.

Not really. Because this isn’t about me, it is about the Church. It is about starting a new church in North Paulding, a new lifesaving station, a new city on a hill, a new light. It is about Due West fulfilling a mission to make disciples out of followers and followers out of wanderers.

Four years ago when I was just living my life as a youth pastor, God called me to start a church. I felt like Moses at times, raising all kinds of issues why it shouldn’t be me. To the issues I raised, “God, where will it be?,” “God, will there be land?,” “God, will there be a building?,” “God, will there be churches who’ll help?” Over and over, the reply came back these were not the issue. The issue is God’s relentless love for people. The issue is “God so loved the world that he send his only Son…”

There is a success rate of nearly 90% for new churches who start with the involvement and support of a mother church. I always felt more confident as a lifeguard when I had good coverage. Everyone, has a role at Due West in the start of this new church. Everyone can be a part - it is who we are.

Everyone is called to pray.
In your pews or in your chair you’ll find a bookmark. It gives you a guide to how you can pray, how your family can pray for this new United Methodist Church. At our info tables around the church you can find magnets to place on your refrigerator too.

Everyone can be a neighbor.

That doesn't sound as scary as a missionary does it? To be a neighbor you don't have to get shots, raise support, or leave the country. Everyone needs neighbors. Folks who can help when needed, lend a ladder or lend a hand or two. You don’t stop being a member of Due West. But you can lend a hand. Maybe it is for three months and you come serve as a greeter. Every other week you come and shepherd in the Children’s ministry. For six months, you come by before you come to Due West, and help us set-up the sanctuary. It maybe during the week you collect supplies for children and youth or you help with the bulletin.

God is calling some of you to more.
God is calling some of you to step out and go fully. You won’t do it alone, there are already families who’ve heard that call and stepped out. God is calling you to be a part of this mission outpost, this lifesaving station. God is calling you to help people connect, follow and become disciples of Jesus Christ.

This week I went through one of my treasure boxes full of stuff I’ve collected through the years. In there I found my “Pool Guy” bracelet from summer camp one year. It was given to me after I had rescued a little girl during her swim test. There was a lot of coverage and I could stand in the water she was struggling in. I started wearing it again as a reminder, I’m still called to be a “Pool Guy.” Everyone here is called to be a “Pool Guy” and “Pool Girl.”

This new life saving station, this mission outpost needs coverage as it goes into the waters. This mission outpost needs you, because there are disconnected, wandering, drowning, children, teenagers, adults and families who need a mission outpost, a life saving station, a city on a hill.




May I Ask: When was the last time you were on a mission?

May I Suggest: Find one close by and get involved. If you're out my way, we've got room!

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