The Importance of a Woman in the Pulpit

Today our congregation was again blessed with a Spirit-filled message about Christ’s love from our new assistant pastor, Jennifer Howat.

Since our son continues to help with sound in the sound booth, and my wife was at an education retreat with Oklahoma A+ Schools, I was sitting with both my girls in the pews today. As I listened to Jen open the Scriptures and preach the Gospel to us, I was struck by how important it is for my girls and others to see her as a woman preaching in our Sunday service. We have been members of this congregation since 2006, and Jen is the first female pastor we have had at our church. I am not sure, but she may be the first female pastor we have ever had.

Praise God that He is using Jen in our community to share the love of Jesus Christ, and that Jen is a role model for young women like our girls to see how God powerfully uses both women and men to lead his church today and in the future.

From Foyer to Kitchen by Andy Stanley

These are my notes from a DVD message titled “From Foyer to Kitchen” by Andy Stanley. We watched this today at our Session retreat for First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma. This video is 6-8 years old (no longer available on Amazon) and there are several things Andy’s team has modified since. This post has a video of Andy talking about these ideas, similar to what we watched on today’s DVD.

We believe the local church should be irresistible
– children and parents should wake up on Sunday morning and say, “We want to go to church.”

We believe people who are NOT believers YET should be able to attend on Sunday morning, and want to go back the next week and check it out
– in the Gospels, Jesus was irresistible
– he wasn’t someone you could ignore or marginalize
– the Church is the Body of Christ
– our local church and yours should reflect that same thing in society

Story of explaining in Atlanta, GA
– we need more relevant environments where believers and non-believers can connect to each other and connect to our heavenly Father

This drove us to start Northpoint Community Church
– started with 6 staff
– hammered out mission statement: “Lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ”
– that was our version of saying the “Great Commission”
– 3 components or pursuits:
-1 pursue intimacy with God
-2 community with insiders / believers
-3 influence with others outside the faith

Generally discipleship or spiritual growth has been relegated to a series of classes
– it meant “how much Bible do you know” (verses)

Our goal for people wasn’t an amount of knowledge or number of classes you’d attended, but the degree to which people are engaged in these 3 pursuits

Our strategy recognized we can’t MAKE someone do any of these things

All of us in the group who valued these three pursuits realized we developed those passions and routines was ENVIRONMENT
– relevant environment

We decided if we created those environments, trained people to lead in those environments, and …

Mission: Lead People
Strategy: Creating environments where participants are encouraged and equipped to [engage in those 3 pursuits]

We named the 3 environments for rooms in the house
1- Foyer
2- Living Room
3- Kitchen

These environments do three different things

Foyer environment: Where we expect GUESTS

When guests are in your home, things are different: There are things you DO talk about, and things you don’t
– you change who you are as a family or what you believe, but you tailor the environment for the guest so they feel welcome and want to come back
– we decided we needed to create some safe “foyer” environments to help guests feel welcome

Living Room environment: people start to connect as friends

middle circle (we found) is the most difficult/challenging
– everyone talks about getting people into small groups
– we have constantly updated the transition part in the living room, when people

Life for our family happens in the kitchen
– this is our ultimate small group environment
– that is where life happens
– in the foyer you feel like a guest
– in the living room you start to make connections
– in the kitchen community with insiders happens

We want everyone at the kitchen table

For adults we have 3 kinds of small groups: (that’s the only one that meets on Sunday mornings at our church)
1- starting point small groups: open group
2- starter groups: we call it “dating” – it lasts 6 weeks, gives people a taste of group life, if they want to move on together they can – targeted group
3- community groups: meet for 12 to 18 months, then they reform (they are closed groups)

We’ve discovered community doesn’t happen in an unpredictable environment
– life on life doesn’t happen in an environment where trust is uncertain

Every small group comes to an end: either a happy end or a small end
– people may go forward and multiple
– people may decide they never want to be in another group

Life happens within the church when we are focused together

Our focus to evaluate all new PROGRAMS: Does this help us move people from the foyer, to the living room, to the kitchen?
– we try to “add steps, not programs”
– need to fill in gaps, help people move toward growth…

“Your church strategy is perfectly designed to get the results you’re getting”
– so if you want to see change, to become an irresistible church, then discover what your strategy is and change it so you can talk about it intelligently so people understand what you are doing and how you do it

Question: Are your ENVIRONMENTS accomplishing the mission

3 takeaways:

  1. Would you go home and spend time clarifying your purpose / mission? What is the WIN we are wanting to celebrate?
  2. Would you go home and think through what it would take to develop a strategy? Can you put it in terms you can explain to your people? (This creates amazing synergy)
  3. Focus your environments

“Everybody wants to give their time and energy to something they understand” (you need to clarify your strategy w different terms)

Asking for Wisdom

These are verses Brian Wagner shared tonight at the 1001 Community Worship Service at our church:

That night the lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. “Now, O lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:5-14 NLT)

The only source of true wisdom is God. We need to seek Him & His plans so we can live in tune with Him.

How do we access God’s wisdom? Ask God for it! Seek wisdom from God through prayer.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)

Prayers for wisdom should always be followed by a prayer for courage & strength to do what is right.

The Name of Jesus Saves by @NAQureshi

Our scripture verse today:

In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:8-15 NLT)

We are hearing today from Dr. Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel is @NAQureshi on Twitter. He shared powerful stories about his life growing up as a devout Muslim in the United States, in a family that had served as Islamic missionaries around the world.

It was not until a fellow debate member in high school engaged Nabeel in evidence-based dialog about Jesus in the Bible that he started a 3 year journey of searching which culminated in his conversion to Christianity.

Death, Deity & Resurrection are the three core beliefs of Christianity which Islam denies.

Prophetic dreams are commonplace among Muslims, and were in Nabeel’s family. God gave Nabeel three different dreams of revelation about Jesus.

“There is nothing in the Koran which speaks to a hurting man.”

“This life is not about me, it is about Him.” [Jesus]

The word “excruciating” was invented to describe how painful it is to die in a cross

Great message today in our early church service by Nabeel! I’m looking forward to hearing more from him this afternoon!

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Family Advent Service

Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.

Family Advent Service

We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)

We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Missional Church – Set Apart

Today our associate pastor, John Gruel, shared his final “scheduled sermon” at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma. John emphasized the importance of EVERYONE in the church being an active servant of Christ, rather than a passive spectator. He reminded us there is NOT a New Testament basis for the stark separation in most churches between “clergy” and “laity.” I recorded his sermon with my iPhone and the free app Cinch, using an iRig mic in the pew. I posted this in my Christian channel on Cinch. Check it out. Great sermon, great exhortations for us. John preached on John 17: 16-19. The sermon was 20 minutes long.

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