Intro:In many respects, I feel that last year Fall ‘05 – summer of ’06, has been my personal John 6. Allow me to explain:
- vs. 1- 15 Jesus feeds the 5000.
- Vs. 16 – 24 Jesus walk on water.
- Jesus could do no wrong. He did everything right, and everyone loved him.
My vision of the Rock coming in:Take the FNR to the next level by capturing the spirit of the Rock. No one would misunderstand what the Rock was about. We are not here to babysit Christians through college, but to develop Christian revolutionaries who are passionate about Jesus and about the gospel that gives life. I wanted the FNR to shout out that the Rock is concerned about the condition of the world.
At a Faithwalkers, I gave a message that captured what I was talking about.I was believing God to raise up believers that are stout hearted enough, sacrificial enough, courageous enough, and mature enough to genuinely reach this world for Christ. (I never envisioned having a large church, become a popular communicator, or develop a complex multi-faceted ministry), but to develop a sustainable, reproducible ministry. A ministry that can consistently plants churches over the long term.
And I knew that to plant churches requires a certain type of person. A person that’s trained to view himself/ herself, the church, and the world through the Luke 9 lens: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23, NIV)
So I wanted the FNR to reflect that great commission spirit by packaging it with the unbeliever in mind that they might find what they are looking for there. There was no intention to hide Christ, rather He was our focus in our teaching such as the “Upside Down Jesus” series and in our worship (rather than traditions).
The FNR was the believer’s constant reminder of who we are and why we are here. We are Jesus followers sent on a mission to love the world back to Him.
Then, inside the Rock (at its core) was a love for God, the Word and people. Inside, we emphasized a radical lifestyle of daily QTs, studying the Word in lifegroups and teams, wrestling over how to apply what we were learning, aggressively adopting new believers, and eagerly sharing the gospel. Because our passion isn’t to be just hearers of the Word but doers! We were a church on the move. It was a perfect plan, unfortunately, it just hasn’t worked like I thought.
Continuing with John 6:
- Vs. 6:25 – 59 hits. Hard times, confusing messages, a direction that people didn’t like to hear. Maybe Jesus overextended his ethos. I know I did. For whatever reasons, people, at large, didn’t buy into the vision. I don’t know if I was asking too much or if they thought I was off my rocker and they had a better plan or what. Regardless, things floundered creating frustration and conflict.
- Vs. 60-71 Reflect on the last year of The Rock:
- Celebrated the few successes we saw. (a few salvations, new people, the building, strong attendance to Faithwalkers), but even their we took our hits.
- Mourned those that we lost (people who have left The Rock whether physically or emotionally (with their hearts)).
- I didn’t need to give a hard hitting message to lose people, they’ve already left (packed up their hearts and left but the problem was their bodies are still hanging around. Why? …because of friends or some things we do are fun… but losing your life that others might live no longer interested them.)
Jesus honored those who stayed with him.I would like to do the same, but I don’t have Divine insight to know who is really committed to the nonnegotiables. I don’t know what’s at the core of your heart. Why you are here. The loyalty of some, though, has been tested severely and yet they’re still here. I speak of:
- Doug B., Dan M., Wendy R., Michael Riley, Tony H., Matt H., and Nate S. There are others of you, but you may not yet know how hard it is to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.” The few I’ve mentioned know… at least to some degree.
- When we were small and struggling, I remember the campus pastor giving a riveting message. Circumstances were far worse than we have now. He put out a strong call to commitment and I told him, “I’m with you.” But as soon as you say that, you will be tested. Situation with Kirsten- I was accused of “defrauding her”; told to cease and desist. He later apologized for over-extending his authority. But he didn’t have to. I would have remained loyal anyway. Why?
Why am I committed?
Because I had made a commitment to Christ not just for my spirit, but for my soul and mind as well. My life was His. The verse that echoes through my mind from the first time that I consciously gave to Christ all my days on earth is I Cor. 6:19, 20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Since my life is not my own, then the filter I process life through is, “Will it honor my Master?” “Will it please Christ?” “Does it bring Him glory?” Hear this from me now: a lukewarm, vacillating, consumer mindset toward the church does not bring Him glory. The church is His body, and like it or not, loyalty to it is loyalty to Him.
But what if the pastor goes bad or they adopt an unbiblical vision or they stop loving me the way they should or they don’t let me serve the way I’m gifted or… Maybe such things will happen, but that’s not the case here (except the loving each other part… we have a ways to go there. But we know that and are not content with it.)
Few churches operate like ours. Where there’s a steadfast commitment to love and unity. Where there’s a conviction of plurality of pastors and a high value of the priesthood of all believers. The rank and file believer can express their concerns with the pastors here and not suffer retribution. It’s rare, and I’m in for life. I believe it honors Christ for me to do so. And that’s what my redeemed life is all about.
So what am I calling you too? Let me be clear:
- Loyalty to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Give your life on earth to Him. It is the only reasonable thing you could do in light of his love and sacrifice for you. See Gal. 2:20
- Loyalty to the church universal. It is His body, the physical expression of Christ on this earth, the vehicle to spread the good news to the world, the only solution to genuine peace, joy, and love in this world. Eph. 3: 10-11 “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Loyalty to Stonebrook, The Rock, to me and the band of brothers and sisters who are with me. You will not find many who will have the guts to say that. I just did. Join me in liberating the world from darkness. We have the message and we have the power to do it. I have no verse to back this up, just my life.
I realize that for many of you I have not earned your confidence and trust to make such an ask. There’s grace here at The Rock. You have time to figure out what you want. But don’t think you can put it off forever and be fine. You will eventually be forced to decide, and that will most likely be when you find yourself in the middle of pain and confusion over something that is going on in this body. I pray that your choice honors your Savior. But so few do.
he Rock’s future and mine:
In case you wondering why we’re doing what we’re doing as a ministry and what I’m thinking for the future. Let me share a few things with you:
This summer, EPIC has been an effort to awaken the heart of the Rock (love). Eph. 4: 15, 16 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” It was primarily Paul’s idea to have a summer of solid teaching, personal development, and outreach.
I focused on Friday night outreach. Why? 1) I’m a man of action. A doer. A battlefield commander. 2) I believe that if you develop a love for the lost, you will learn the skills necessary to reach them no matter what context you find yourself in.
Why The Ezekiel Project?- It’s an unfinished dream (originally Pat S. and now mine and hopefully yours). I believe in this dream because I honestly believe the church holds the cure for the sickness of the world. It’s an effort to put the church on display in a more visible, approachable way and more aggressively interface with the world.
SALT- Why? Our steadfast effort to keep church planting alive. Our audacious goal of planting churches in our cities and campuses that people might be saved.
The Rock- I still believe in a campus focused ministry that is sustainable and reproducible. College students and twenty somethings are at a prime time of life to be envisioned and equipped into an army of God’s people who could honestly, genuinely reach every nation in our generation. I will hold on to that vision and the doctrines of our faith without compromise. All other things are negotiable.
So who’s with me?