Obviously it's been a month since my last post. Things have changed a lot, especially considering that at one time I was posting 7 days a week!
Given the enormous moves and changes we are experiencing at Connect, blogging has been pushed to the back burner. We're talking about what this may look like in the future, but for right now, my posts will be sporadic at best.
God is doing so much at Connect that my head is spinning! I don't know everything that He's got up His sleeve, but I do know this… we haven't seen anything yet! Our best days are still ahead of us!
This morning, I sat down with my eight-year-old son to talk about the terrorist attack in Boston yesterday. I had been dreading the conversation, but I also knew that it's not something I can shield him from. Better he hears it from me than from someone else.
I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I felt the same way when I had to tell him about the Sandy Hook shootings. How in the world do you communicate this to a child?
I figured the best thing to do was to just go for it, so I sat down with Ryan and said, "I need to tell you about something very bad that happened yesterday."
I proceeded to explain what had happened, trying to pick and choose what details to include and which ones to leave out. All in all, he received it well.
For what it's worth, here are some things that I prayerfully decided to do before my conversation.
- Be honest. I can't lie to him about the state of our world. That won't help him.
- Don't sugarcoat evil. We should use this word with our children when it applies. When something is just raw, unfiltered evil, it's time to call a spade a spade. We don't do our kids any favors when we try to do anything else.
- Talk frankly about justice. Yesterday, President Obama said, "Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice." I told Ryan that the people who did this would pay for it with their lives, either by our soldiers or by our government. It's a heavy conversation for an eight-year-old, to be sure. But I want him to understand the concept of justice. I always go back to Romans 13:1-4. A government's role is to protect its people, using deadly force when necessary. In this case, it is necessary. That's not a political statement. It's a Biblical one. And it's one that I want my son to understand.
- Point out how brave, compassionate people stepped up. After we talked about the evildoers who carried out this attack, I wanted Ryan to also see that good people responded swiftly. Good people always do.
- You are safe. I talked to Ryan about how the police, the military, the FBI, etc. were all working non-stop to make sure that we are safe. The last thing in the world I want is for him to live in fear.
- We need to pray. I want Ryan to understand that prayer is not a last resort. It's our first response. Before I took him to school, we prayed specifically for the people in Boston. We prayed for those who were hurt and for the families of those who were killed.
It's been a few days, but I still can't get over the launch of Connect. Here are a few rather unorganized thoughts that keep coming back to me.
- Our volunteers blew me away! They didn't just go the extra mile. They went an extra ten miles! Being a portable church only works if the people in the church are servants. And man, are the people of Connect servants or what?!?! Throughout the entire weekend…from integrating the gear all day on Friday…to a long setup training day on Saturday…to executing things on Sunday…I never heard a single complaint. Not a one. Even our representatives from Portable Church Industries, who have done this countless times, couldn't stop bragging about our people! And it's because our people buy into one of the core values of our church: saved people serve people.
- Connect Kids is going to rock! My two boys couldn't quit talking about it. They love the new rooms, the new gear, etc. We had a record number of kids this past Sunday! Another core value of Connect: God loves kids and so do we!
- Connect Students is also going to rock! I love that our student ministry is vibrant and growing. And we're just getting started!
- Given the number of links in this post, you've checked out our website by now, haven't you? If not…and I say this in the most loving, pastoral way possible…what the heck is your problem?!?! Quit reading this and go to connect.cc right now! It's unbelievable!
- We sent more cards to first-time guests in Connect's first week than we did in the last 3+ months in our old building. You think this move might work???
- We had people and churches all over the country praying for our launch. My social media accounts about melted down this past weekend. And I'm hoping I didn't go over my text message limit! We even had another local pastor stop in at the hotel on Sunday morning, just to pray with me. The outpouring of love, encouragement, excitement, and prayers was so humbling. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it. And it also gives me great hope about the future of the church. If this many churches and believers are this Kingdom-minded, then the best days of Jesus' church are still ahead of us!
- I am PUMPED about this weekend! I've got a message that I can't wait to preach. Our band is going to light it on fire. Our volunteers are going to get after it all over again. People will hear the gospel for the first time. Is it Sunday yet?!?!?
Tomorrow is it! Our first meeting as Connect Christian Church at the Eastgate Holiday Inn.
For the last three weeks, we’ve prayed fervently for our relocation. Today, we’re going to end where we started. Pray for God to be glorified by this move. Pray for Jesus to be lifted up. Pray for heaven to get more crowded as more and more people connect with Him. Pray for God to move in Connect the same way He moved in the early church in the book of Acts!
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47b, NIV)
The big weekend is here! Our equipment from Portable Church Industries (PCI) will be delivered today. A crew of our people will work all day to integrate our existing equipment with the new system. Then tomorrow is a huge training day at the Holiday Inn. PCI will train our Setup Team in how our new system sets up and tears down.
Pray for our training day tomorrow. Pray that we can learn a lot in a short amount of time. Pray that we can be adequately prepared for our first Sunday at the hotel. It’s just two days away! We have a lot to learn because we have a lot to do!
“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (Proverbs 9:9, NIV)
We’re just a few days away from the launch of Connect. We need to be sure we always remember why we’re making this move – it is 100% fueled by our vision, so let’s pray through our vision of Connecting, Growing and Serving.
- Pray for God to open incredible opportunities for us to connect more people to Jesus.
- Pray that we can be a church where people can grow in their faith in Jesus.
- Pray that we will all remember that we are here, not to serve ourselves, but to serve Jesus.
It’s all about Jesus: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV)
Let’s take today to pray for the safe delivery of our new portable system from Portable Church Industries (PCI). Our gear is scheduled to be delivered on Friday. Pray for the PCI staff members to have a safe trip from Detroit to Cincinnati. Pray for all our gear to integrate and work smoothly.
We know it sounds weird to pray for equipment, but this equipment is what will enable us to create environments for people to hear the gospel. If people can’t hear the gospel clearly, they won’t get connected to Jesus. That’s worth praying about!
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15, NIV)
Today, pray for our elders and deacons. This prayer mirrors yesterday’s prayer for our staff. Pray for God to refresh them. Pray for their health, and the health of their families. Pray for God to protect them against satanic attacks.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” (Hebrews 13:17-18, NIV)
We’re less than a week away from the launch of Connect! We’ll start the week by praying for our staff. Pray for God to refresh them. Pray for their health, and the health of their families. Pray for God to protect them, because Satan loves to attack in these big, exciting seasons.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.” (Hebrews 13:17-18, NIV)