Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Podcast—"Life Rules"

Follow this link to download the latest podcast from North Point, "Life Rules." Here's the description from iTunes:

In Kindergarten, ignoring the rules was a blast—especially if you could get away with it. But, as adults, we understand that rules are for our protection and, if we break God's rules, we cause heartache and broken relationships. In this series, Andy clearly explains God's basic set of life rules, which, when lived, hold the power to improve your current relationships and mend the hurting ones.

Give it a listen, and then share it with a friend. These podcasts are a great way to familiarize yourself with Andy's teaching.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Anyone seen this van?

Hey everybody, just a quick heads-up. Stephanie took Peyton shopping this evening for his birthday (he turned 9 yesterday and received some cash from my mom). When they came out of the store, our van was not there. Hmmm...

Since all we have belongs to God, He certainly has the prerogative to give our van to whomever he chooses. I just wish He'd done it yesterday, before I spent $600 to replace the emissions system! ;-)

Look, it's a '97 Town & Country with 170,000 miles. I doubt it's on its way to a chop-shop. Maybe it'll turn up soon. In the meantime, our arrival in Jacksonville will be delayed for a day or two as we work all of this out.

We'd love your prayers!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What is "discipleship"?

On my first (ever) visit to Jacksonville, I met a woman who was very excited about the prospect of North Point launching a strategic partnership in Jacksonville. She said that her church and ours could be great partners. She said, exactly, "ya'll could lead them to Christ and then they could come to our church to be discipled."

I just smiled. The obvious indictment was that, while Access might do a good job at creating environments that lead people to "accept" Jesus Christ, we'll probably drop the ball soon after.

Our mission statement is "to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." Everything we do and will do is about that—seeing people increase their faith in God. How does a church accomplish "discipleship"?

Some churches have a great teaching ministry—layers upon layers of classes and electives. In those churches, you hear phrases like "biblical literacy" a lot. Some of those people ask, "when does North Point get to the deeper stuff? However, in my years of ministry, some of the smartest Christians I knew were also the worst at following Jesus' purpose—"to seek and save the lost."

Other churches talk about obedience. And it's true that, if you love Jesus, you'll obey him. But obedience absent the relationship is just pharisaical.

Obedience alone will make you judgmental.

Knowledge alone will make you proud.

A spiritually mature person is one who lives as if God is who He says He is and will do all He has promised to do.

Knowledge? That's a class.

Faith? Maturity? That's a product of time. That's what happens when God works through relationships and circumstances and when we exercise our ministry gifts. It's what happens as we practice the private spiritual disciplines and tune our heart to the heart of God. And yes, it's when practical Bible teaching shows us where we are and where we need to go.

Do we want to see people in a growing relationship with God? Absolutely? Will that happen as a result of classes, seminars, and electives? Not likely. And can it be measured by obedience? Only partly.

Okay, folks, don't be shy about your comments. I'm sure not everyone agrees. In fact, my best friend in ministry for the last decade and I will go to the mat about this issue of "spiritual maturity." But that's okay. He's also an Eagles fan. What's that tell you?


Friday, November 03, 2006

Another church in Jacksonville?

We started living in our house this week. Actually, it's more like camping. We wanted to be here in time for trick-or-treating, which was a great chance to meet the neighbors, but appliances just came yesterday, and we're still trying to unpack our swimsuits and take a trip to the beach.

Anyway, I met Nick and Leah today—great people, and we have a lot in common. She home-schools their son and daughter, who are the same ages as Peyton and Carly. He manages a retail store up at Regency, and they attend what sounds like a really nice church here on the south side.

So, as I learn about them and our kids are playing kickball together in the backyard, they ask what brings us to Jacksonville. I explain that we've been invited here by a group of folks to help start a church. Which begs a question:

Does Jacksonville really need another church? C'mon, you've thought it. Maybe you're reading this blog and you attend another church in town. Maybe you pastor another church in town. And it's probably a great church. So why does North Point feel the need to start another one in Jacksonville?

I pastored at The Chapel for a decade-and-a-half. Just before I left to join North Point, I heard some friends from Kensington were planning to start a new church in Akron. I thought, "that's stupid." I mean, why duplicate our efforts? The Chapel is a great church—just invite folks here. Why compete against each other?

This post may generate some comments. Those of us who are working hard to see this new venture start in Jacksonville would love to hear from you. But we also want you to hear us clearly: we're not here to compete with you. There are a million people in Jacksonville, and most of them don't go to church anywhere. Frankly, we're not interested in filling our services with folks who already go to church. In fact, everything about North Point is designed to make it attractive to "outsiders"—folks who don't attend church anywhere and may not feel very close to God at all.

So here's what Jacksonville does need. Jacksonville needs intellectually safe environments where those who have not yet decided to put Jesus Christ in charge of their lives can ask questions. Jacksonville needs environments that are predictable and excellent, where believers can invite their not-yet-believing friends to come and hear what the Bible has to say about life in the third millennium. Jacksonville needs small groups where those new believers can be introduced to other believers and "do life" together and develop meaningful friendships that point each other to Godliness. Jacksonville needs environments where kids and parents learn together about God's love for them and His plan for their lives.

We're not looking for "church people." At least not the kind who might come just for the excellent teaching or rockin' music or great kids' programming. We're looking for people who, like us, have hearts breaking for the people in Jax who don't yet know Him and are dying for a place where they can invite these folks to know more about who God really is.

We're excited to be a part of this. We can't wait to see people who don't even think about God on a daily basis enter into a personal relationship with God and give Him all of their worship.

So, Jacksonvillians, hear us loud and clear: we're here to join your team and see God change hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in the years to come. Let's roll!