Three Things I Have Learned From The Last Few Championship Games

The Warriors were up 3-1, but the Cavs won the NBA finals.

The Indians were up 3-1, but the Cubs won the World Series.

Alabama was up 24-14 on Clemson at the end of the third quarter in the CFP Championship Game, but Clemson won the game.

The Falcons were up 28-9 and lost the Super Bowl.

What can I learn, as a church leader, from these championship games? 

Playing with the lead is hard.

Once a team gets the lead, the fear of failure is magnified. This affects play calling, aggressiveness, and urgency. Church leaders must remember the victory is secured by Christ and there is no need to fear failure. We must not stop strategizing, being aggressive, and living with a sense of urgency because these symptoms indicate we’ve lost sense of the mission. We must not rest until EVERY PERSON has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. We must faithfully execute the game plan given to us in Matthew 28 and not loose our edge of advancing the mission of God.

Momentum is extremely important.

In each of these games, you could sense the winning team loosening their grip on the trophy as the game(s) continued. After sprinting to the lead, you realized that they were standing on thin ice and about to lose it. You sensed a change of momentum.

Most people understand momentum in the context of a sporting event, but momentum is extremely important in church life. I’m amazed at how many church leaders do not have a clear sense of how to build and sustain momentum in ministry. Craig Groeschel wrote a helpful book called, IT: How Church Leaders Can Get It and Keep It.  We’ll all serve our churches better when we begin to understand how momentum works in ministry.

The opponent will fight until the end.

There is no tomorrow in a championship game or series. The season is over no matter what. The team trailing on the scoreboard is desperate and throwing everything in the playbook at the opposing team. A team doesn’t make it to the championship with a desire to come in second.

Church leaders must remember that our Enemy, is defeated but will fight until the very last moment. He will continue to tear down and destroy. He will continue to attack individuals, families and churches. He will use moral failure, division, and lies to destroy every life that he can.

BUT HE IS STILL DEFEATED.

Because of Christ, there will be no collapse in the victory march of the Christ-follower. There will be a day of celebration for those who are found in Christ. There will be a day of ultimate victory, but until that day, we must stay locked in, not lose momentum and recognize the fight with our enemy.

Great Questions for Family Conversation

OK – So we’re all inside for the next couple days. If we’re not careful, we can be extremely productive at cleaning closets and tending to projects we’ve been hoping to finish but totally miss out on making relational investments in our spouse and children. Here are a few questions that will make great conversation starters to redeem the time.

  1. What is your favorite family memory?
  2. What are you trusting God for right now?
  3. What is your favorite worship song?
  4. What do you daydream about?
  5. What is your favorite superhero/princess costume? Why?
  6. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
  7. What is your favorite part of school?
  8. What is one thing we can pray about as a family today?
  9. What is your favorite family tradition?
  10. If you could travel back in time, what event would you like to see?

 

A few other fun ideas might be:

  1. Play your favorite songs from when you were a kid.
  2. Share your salvation stories with each other.
  3. Parents, share how you met with your children.
  4. Look at old photo albums.
  5. Break out the old fashioned board and card games.

 

Hopefully these questions and ideas will strengthen your family relationships while you wait for the ice and snow to melt.

3 Reasons Why Young Pastors Need To Work Together

A few weeks ago, Matt Capps and I met for lunch and began to talk about the difficulty of young pastors to connect with other young pastors around the state. Matt and I have developed a friendship because we’ve intentionally pursued getting together, laughing, talking about church, praying for and encouraging one another. We decided that day to create a network of young pastors, like ourselves, who are Great Commission minded and desire to connect with other pastors, learn from each other, and partner together in order to best steward our future ministries.

I’m extremely excited about the opportunity this provides young pastors across the state of North Carolina. Our first gathering will be at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. We will gather at 4:15pm on Tuesday, November 15 in the Meadowbrook room at the Koury Convention Center.

I see great value in this gathering because:

  1. It will facilitate relationships pastor to pastor.

We pastor in a contentious world, and pastoring is not always easy. Rewarding, but not easy. We’ve seen too many pastors tense, on edge, and waiting to pounce on one another for any reason. When pastors have relationships with one another, they more often give the benefit of the doubt or have personal conversations instead of lashing out publicly. We’ve witnessed the divisive nature of pastor attacking pastor from pulpits, conference platforms and social media.

We may have different ministry philosophies, but hopefully we all have the same end goal in mind. If we’re going to truly impact lostness in the state of North Carolina, we’re going to have to come together as a team. The best sports teams always talk about chemistry. They know each other. They respect each other. They believe in each other. They work together towards the same end goal.

This gathering gives us an opportunity to kick off relationships that will go with us throughout our entire ministry.

  1. We can learn from each other.

We want to be a band of brothers advancing the gospel in our state. To do this we will create an environment where we can learn from each other and share our best practices. We’re going to sit at round tables and discuss different topics related to our church and ministries. Although this is not a revolutionary idea, it does underline the importance of learning from others and standing shoulder to shoulder with others who are walking the same path.

We’ll discuss questions like:

  1. Where do you go for resources, tips, and training?
  2. How are you developing leaders in your church?
  3. How do you keep yourself fresh to do ministry with a full tank?
  4. How are you engaging your community with the Gospel?
  5. How are you leading culture change in your church?
  6. What is the best way for us to cooperate to strengthen our future?

If everyone comes ready to share and ready to learn and challenge one another, this gathering will have significant impact in all of our ministries.

  1. We can prepare for the future.

The theme of our gathering is “Stewarding our Future Together.” When we steward our future, we make the most of it. Too many pastors become disheartened and burned out in ministry, and something must be done. While there is no silver bullet, we want to develop a group of great commission minded guys who will minister shoulder to shoulder for the next 30+ years. We hope to see each other as partners in ministry who together reach many people for Christ.

We want to resource each other as well! To get started, B&H Publishing and Crossway are providing free books (a $55 value) for each attendee.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday, November 15. I hope you’ll join us.

To sign up for the meeting, click on the link below.

Sign Up For The Young Pastors Network Gathering

Sojourners: Book Recommendations

For the past few weeks at Apex Baptist Church we have been studying how to live as a sojourner. A sojourner is an outsider, a foreigner, or a temporary resident. We have realized that true believers in Jesus Christ are sojourners in this world and the Kingdom of God becomes their permanent, eternal home. This  creates many challenges as we live alongside those who do not have a “Kingdom first” worldview.

If you have missed a Sunday in this series, check out the archived video sermons.

Throughout the series, we have been giving away different resources for further study. If you were not able to grab one on Sunday, here are some links to the resources.

  1. ONWARD – by Russell Moore.
  2. CULTURE SHOCK – by Chip Ingram
  3. GOOD FAITH – by David Kinsman and Gabe Lyons
  4. COUNTER CULTURE – by David Platt
  5. THE GOSPEL AND RACIAL RECONCILIATION (The Gospel for Life Series)  – edited by Russell Moore and Andrew Walker
  6. UNDER OUR SKIN – by Benjamin Watson
  7. One Nation Under God – by Bruce Ashford

 

Other recommended books relating to these subjects would be:

  1. ONENESS EMBRACED – by Tony Evans
  2. WE CANNOT BE SILENT – Albert Mohler
  3. GOD AND POLITICS – Mark Dever
  4. THE GOSPEL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY (The Gospel for Life Series) – edited by Russell Moore and Andrew Walker
  5. THE GOSPEL AND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (The Gospel for Life Series) – edited by Russell Moore and Andrew Walker

 

Staying Connected At Church All Summer Long

Baseball camp. Football camp. Basketball camp. Travel ball. All-stars. Cheerleading camp. Band camp. Family vacation. Traveling to see family. Business trip. Campouts. Weekend get-a-ways. Beach house. Mountain home. 

What do all these things have in common? They pull us away from the consistent interaction with the community of believers we call the “church.” We live in highly mobile society. People are traveling more than ever before. How can a person stay connected to the local church during a busy summer of travel?

Here are a few thoughts:


Be fierce about your personal time with the Lord.

1 John 1:7 –  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

No one will ever be able to feed you the Word like you ultimately need. You must feed yourself. When traveling we face temptations that you are able to stay away from at home. The only way to survive is through intentional, uninterrupted time with the Lord.

Study the Word and Pray.

Recommended devotional book: New Morning Mercies

Here are some Bible Reading Plans

Here is a great book I use to help me pray: Valley of Vision


Stay connected to your local church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

At Apex Baptist, we use an online tool to help us stay connected even when we are physically away from the church. This tool is called Apex Connected and it facilitates community so you can learn more about ministries, register for events, connect with others, and so much more.

Apex Connected will help you stay in the loop of everything happening in your Life Group (bible study class). You may miss a few Sundays over the next few months, but you can still stay in touch with group members, see prayer needs, be informed about group functions, etc. You will also be able to see all the activities for your children so they can be involved when your family is home.

By registering for Apex Connected you will receive the E-Newsletter which will share all the upcoming events and activities church-wide.


Continue to give.

Malachi 3:8 – Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

All of us feel more connected to things that we are investing in. By continuing to give, you are being obedient to God and faithful in your church.

To give to Apex Baptist, click here.


Find a rhythm for worship.

Psalm 29:2 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

We need to worship the Lord. There are many opportunities to worship when you are away.

> If you are in the same place for an extended period of time, find a local church to worship.

> If you are in different places on Sunday, grab some worship music, sing to the Lord, and watch a sermon online.

We post the songs we are singing each week at Apex Baptist on Spotify.

Here is a link to past sermons preached at Apex Baptist.


Maybe these steps and resources will help you take the next step in your walk with Christ this summer!

Value: Generosity

Our church mission statement is: Apex Baptist Church is an authentic community of believers worshipping God EVERYWHERE we go, becoming more like Him EVERYDAY, and serving EVERYONE we meet.

We believe our mission statement comes directly from the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20.

Our Mission Guides us. Our values define us.

Our values:

  1. Intimacy with Christ
  2. Missional Living
  3. Ministry Excellence
  4. Disciple-making community
  5. Generosity

These values help us fulfill our mission of being a New Testament church.

When we think about generosity, most of us immediately think about money. We should be generous with our money, but generosity is not only limited to our cash. We should be generous with our time, our talents, our homes, our possessions, and our money.

The church functions because of generous people. People volunteer their time. People use their talents. People are hospitable to others at their homes. People invest their possessions in things that make an eternal difference. People support the church with their money.

The church gets its resources from the generosity of people. This is a gift that is held in high esteem and a responsibility that is not taken lightly. Financially speaking, the church budget is met through the faithful tithes and offerings of the people attending Apex Baptist.

Becoming generous with your money is the first step towards a lifestyle of generosity.

1. Generosity reveals what is important to you.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Matthew 6:21

2. Generosity prevents materialism.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18

3. Generosity strengthens your faith.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth… then your barns will be filled to overflowing…” Proverbs 3:9-10

4. Generosity demonstrates your obedience

“Will a person rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8

Value: Disciple Making Community

Our church mission statement is: Apex Baptist Church is an authentic community of believers worshipping God EVERYWHERE we go, becoming more like Him EVERYDAY, and serving EVERYONE we meet.

We believe our mission statement comes directly from the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20.

Our Mission Guides us. Our values define us.

Our values:

  1. Intimacy with Christ
  2. Missional Living
  3. Ministry Excellence
  4. Disciple-making Community
  5. Generosity

These values help us fulfill our mission of being a New Testament church.

A few days ago I received a letter encouraging me to join the alumni association at one of the universities I attended. One of the perks of membership was the privilege to audit a class for free. When you audit, you attend the class but do not have to do any of the work and it does not become part of your permanent academic record. You are exposed to the thought, but do not have to work like the rest of the students in the course to get a passing grade and continue toward graduation.

It may be a perk of an alumni association to audit a course on campus, but it is a travesty for people to simply audit the Christian faith. BUT IT HAPPENS! The solution is a community of believers built upon disciple-making.

A disciple-making community is a family on mission. It is a group of believers who desire to live centered on the Gospel of Christ and encourage each other as they pursue Him together.

In 2 Timothy 2:1-6, the Apostle Paul, writes to Timothy instructing him about making disciples.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.  An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

Four pillars we are trying to build a disciple-making community upon are found in this passage.

1. Developing Leaders.

Having just shared his disappointment over the growing apostasy spreading through Asia, Paul turned to Timothy and wrote, You then, my child, be strong. Sometimes difficult circumstances, our own weaknesses and fears, and the negative attitudes or unfaithfulness of others determine our course in life. Developing leaders takes intentionality, effort and encouragement and it helps us understand what God sees in us, not what we see in ourselves. It, always, happens best in community.

2. Focus on the Main Thing.

A disciple-making community is marked by holiness and perseverance. This is only possible if we stay focused on the main thing. The main thing being glorifying God with our lives. The main thing being living centered on the Gospel. Paul used the analogy of a soldier. A soldier expected hard times. They trained for hard times. They met hard times face to face and persevered through them. A good soldier does not try to escape hard times or look for the path of least resistance. He carries out his mission through the difficulties by staying focused on the main objective instead of the obstacles to accomplishing the main thing.

3. Discipline.

Paul uses the example of an athlete to show us the discipline it takes to excel in a disciple-making community. Like a relay team, each member of a disciple making community is valuable and important to the team. There are rules and there are requirements by which every competition is governed. We are to be disciplined by the Word of God to develop into a disciple-making community.

4. Faithful Service.

Finally, Paul uses the example of a farmer to teach Timothy about the priority of faithful work. A disciple-making community does not spring up overnight. It takes time, care, energy and effort. This is a worthwhile effort because the church will grow more and more healthy as a disciple-making community is established. Just like farmers have to do more than plant, water, and harvest, A disciple-making community must go through daily battles to produce fully devoted followers of Christ.

These four pillars will not be easy to establish, but through the faithful efforts of many men and women, we can establish a biblical community consistently making disciples at Apex Baptist Church