WOW! Big Weekend was BIG

31 08 2010

I said last week that we were praying for 10,000 this weekend and if 14,000 came we would really need divine assistance.  Well, God came through with a little over 15,000 people and we actually survived with an awesome weekend.  It was a blast to see Hope folks coming in with their friends and seeing how much everyone enjoyed the weekend.

Amy Grant is the real deal.  Her humble, laid back, down home attitude was perfect.  She was right at home at Hope.  The service was exactly the way we wanted it — a worship service and not a concert.  She connected as she led in worship and the special music during the offering was beautiful.  See the video below of “Better than a Halleluiah”

We seemed to have made an impact in our outreach goal for the weekend.  We usually have around 40 first time guests who fill out our comment cards but this weekend we had over 200!  That is what it is all about.

Also, our connection with Target House went very well.  Amy did a concert with her band down there after the evening service.  The concert was great but watching her interact with these kids with catastrophic illnesses moved me to tears.  Her love, compassion and concern were very evident. 

God did smile on us this past weekend.  Our prayer is that some of our friends who visited with us really heard the message of God love and will return and become a part of Hope Church.


Big Weekend Coming

27 08 2010

Months ago we began planning at Hope.  The idea was a type of “Friendship Sunday” – where the congregation is encouraged to bring a friend to church with them.  That name sounded very 1970’s so we landed on the in-house name of “The Big Weekend”.  (I got the idea from Nelson Sersey’s book, “Ignite” where he calls it the “Big Day”.  And finally we made it our own by calling it, “Extending Hope Weekend”.   We wanted to take this to a new level. 

1.  We set a goal of doubling the attendance.  We are a church for the unchurched and are always looking for ways to reach out to as many folks as possible in the community who might have given up on church.   This would mean 14,000 total for the weekend and if that happens we are in deep trouble with parking — that is unless people come at our less traditional times of 5:30 on Saturday and 8:00 AM on Sunday.  We are praying for 10,000 and if God blesses us with more, He will have to help us out.

2.  We wanted to have a special guest who would be a part of our regular worship.  A mistake some churches make is to bring in all the bells and whistles — with dancing dogs and pyrotechnics — and blow the doors off.  But the problem is that people will come back the following week and it will be a huge letdown.  Therefore, we wanted to have something very special but presented in such a way that people will experience what we do EVERY week at Hope.  Okay, the cool thing is that we got Amy Grant to come and join us.  She is a long-time friend of our worship leader, Bruce Carroll so he extended the invitation and she accepted.  We are pumped.

3.  We prepared the people of Hope through a 3 week series entitled, “Dare to Invest in Others”.  The first week we focused on prayer.  We encouraged folks to start praying for the friends and family members they would invite for the weekend.  We also put the teaser out there that we would be having a special guest joining us for the weekend.  The second week focused on making the move to share with others pointing to Christ as he called his disciples and how God called us.  The third week focused on making the invite to others as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:18-20).   And this Monday we announced via email and Web that Amy was coming. 

4.  In wanting our people to invite and pick up their friends (to add a personal touch and to address the parking crunch issue), we came up with the idea of asking local restaurants to offer a discount for our people that weekend.  We are listing about 25 local restaurants in a bulletin insert that can be taken to one of the restaurants for a deal on their meal. 

5.  Another cool element is Amy’s involvement with St. Jude Children’s Hospital and especially Target House.  We will be highlighting Target House in our foyer during the weekend. 

We are praying like crazy for a great weekend — that God will bring together who He wants to be here and that it will be a life-changing encounter with Christ.

Thanks Claude

9 02 2010

Paris Trip 2010 208

I have been out of blog mode because my lovely wife and I took a trip to Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam.  What an awesome time we had reconnecting after some crazy ministry and life times.  Yes, it was chilly but when you step into a gallery like the one above, the warmth of the colors and of the scenes helps you leave behind winter and bask in the glow of the impressionist. This is the Orangerie Museum in Paris and it was probably our favorite because you were able to take pictures there. It is not every day that you get to pose with a masterpiece. We are in front of one of Monet’s huge water lilies panels. Absolutely beautiful!!! Check out this close up of the brushstrokes of the yellow sunset portion of that painting.

Paris Trip 2010 204

Thanks Claude for your skill and creative expression.  Thanks God for letting us see this expression of Your creative genius up close and personal.

Favorite Christmas Quote 2009

23 12 2009

Went to a Christmas concert the other night — Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.  Wonderful time with wonderful music.  Really moved me toward the Christmas spirit.

They closed the evening with a powerful song of faith and redemption  —- “Live Forever”.  This line reached out and grabbed me.

Some people say faith is a childish game
Play on children like it’s Christmas day.”

Play on this Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Review of “What Difference do it Make?” by Ron Hall, Denver Moore & Lynn Vincent

16 11 2009

what difference cover

This sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Same Kind of Different as Me, tells of the huge impact this book has had on the lives of many of its readers.  There is story after story of how God used Same Kind of Different as Me to take people outside of their comfort zones and change their lives and their attitude toward homelessness.  It also tells of the continuing relationship of Ron Hall, a wealthy fine-art dealer and Denver Moore who through the impact of Ron’s late wife, Deborah, is now formerly illiterate and formerly homeless and speaks with Ron all around the country.

I had not read Same Kind of Different as Me before I picked up What Difference Do it Make?, but I was able to jump right in and follow their unique story without any difficulty.  I absolutely love the realness of these two men.  Nothing was really glossed over or candy-coated.  They honestly shared their story with grace and a good bit of wit.

Denver’s down-to-earth wisdom shines through a quote like this:

“… there’s a difference between helpin and blessin — that blessin means you give a person a little gift to show ‘em you think they matters on this earth, and helpin is when you stoop down with a person and stay there till they can climb on your shoulders to get up.”

And Ron’s story of the ultimate restoration of his relationship with his father is worth the price of the book.

This really is a good read that will challenge you in a practical way about how you view homelessness, and how we as the community of faith can do something about it.

Donald Miller at Hope – We’re Excited

3 11 2009


Wednesday, November 4, 2009
6:30 PM in the Sanctuary | Free

Tim Keller Helps Pull the Log out of My Eye

23 10 2009

I was flipping through channels today being my day off and I came across a preacher who was upset about something in the church.  I should have kept on flipping to ESPN, but I just had to see where he was going with the rant.  He was in the process of attacking churches who use entertainment and “worldly” methods to bring people into the church.  He did not call out any names, but it was clearly directed toward the Willow Creeks and Saddlebacks of the world.  Since I serve in one of those wicked churches, I felt a little attacked —- like I was part of a movement which did not care about God’s Word and only wanted to “tickle the ears” of the attenders.  To the preacher’s credit he did have a brief caveat that he was not saying all innovation was wrong — after all he was on TV and thought that Spurgeon would cringe at his use of the evil organ!!!

I eventually turned the channel saddened that this pastor felt like he had to take shots at churches that actually have the same Lord as the Head of their church.  But I also realized that I am guilty too of being critical of different philosophies of ministries.  I do this because I appreciate where I serve and have seen God work there in a huge way.  And if I am honest, I also can take shots to make myself look and feel better.  Pretty selfish.  Pretty wrong but we all do it just maybe not on a national televised program.

So, as I was removing the log out of my eye I read a blog post that put this all in perspective.  It was from Tim Keller and his reflections after speaking at Willow’s Leadership Summit.  Here is what he said:

This summer I spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It was an honor to be invited. No one pulls off a conference like Willow Creek. Who else could bring their content to 120,000 people?  And the three other talks or sessions that I saw were extremely high quality.

The time at Willow led me to reflect on how much criticism this church has taken over the years. On the one hand, my own ‘camp’ — the non-mainline Reformed world — has been critical of its pragmatism, its lack of emphasis on sound doctrine. On the other hand, the emerging and post-modern ministries and leaders have disdained Willow’s individualism, its program-centered, ‘corporate’ ethos.  These critiques, I think, are partly right, but when you are actually there you realize many of the most negative evaluations are caricatures.

John Frame’s ‘tri-perspectivalism’ helps me understand Willow. The Willow Creek style churches have a ‘kingly’ emphasis on leadership, strategic thinking, and wise administration. The danger there is that the mechanical obscures how organic and spontaneous church life can be. The Reformed churches have a ‘prophetic’ emphasis on preaching, teaching, and doctrine. The danger there is that we can have a naïve and unBiblical view that, if we just expound the Word faithfully, everything else in the church — leader development, community building, stewardship of resources, unified vision — will just happen by themselves. The emerging churches have a ‘priestly’ emphasis on community, liturgy and sacraments, service and justice. The danger there is to view ‘community’ as the magic bullet in the same way Reformed people view preaching.

By thinking in this way, it makes it possible for me to love and appreciate the best representatives of each of these contemporary evangelical ‘traditions.’ Nobody provides more practical help for organizing and leading ministry than Willow Creek.  I also am humbled that Redeemer is well-regarded in each of these ‘streams’ of evangelicalism, though we have our feet firmly set in our own Reformed tradition.  That is quite unusual, and it makes it possible for us to both teach and learn across the spectrum of church life today.

Click here to see this post and to read some of the comments connected with it.