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: Ministry Excellence

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.

Dr. Andreas Kostenberger wrote, “God is the grounds of all true excellence. He is the one who fills any definition of excellence with meaning and He is the reason we cannot be content with lackluster mediocrity…. Excellence starts and ends with God and is first and for most a hallmark and attribute of God…. Everything God is and does is marked by excellence.”

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Doing all we do for the glory of God is the pathway to excellence.

So what does a value of ministry excellence look like?

Jesus described it in Matthew 5:38-42:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

1. An attitude of mercy.

Jesus is urging us not to return evil for evil. Life is not about evening out the score or taking what is ours. We must recognize that God is our avenger. We show mercy because of the mercy we have been shown through Christ’s redeeming work on the cross.

If we want to value ministry excellence, we must minister with an attitude of mercy.

2. An attitude of service.

Chick-Fil-A has created an attitude of service in their employees. They urge employees to go the second mile as they serve people. If a business recognizes the blessings of the second mile, how much more should a church set the pace in this biblical principle of serving others. A Tunic, cloak, time invested, energy spent, or additional miles walked show value and love for others.

One theologian wrote, “The first mile is where the burden is, the second mile is where the blessing lives.”

3. An attitude of sacrifice.

Jesus encouraged his followers to meet the real needs of others. He desired generous followers. Not men and women hoarding material possessions, but men and women living open handed to meet the needs of others. This lifestyle involves sacrifice.

Sacrifice includes the things we think we need or like, not our extra items. Sacrifice means we are generous even when it is not particularly comfortable. Jesus was a willing sacrifice and laid his life down for us. His sufficient sacrifice shows us what excellence looks like and how we can possess an attitude of sacrifice.

Value: Missional Living

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 Missions 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.

In this post, we will look at our second value: Missional Living

Missions is often the term used for going overseas for the cause of Christ – hence the word missionary. Sadly, it has led some to feel that missions is something that happens “over there,” creating a dulled sense of the needs on our doorstep.

One author wrote, “When the church is at its best, mission is not something we do; it is something we are.”

This describes our desire. We want to live every day on mission for Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7:

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In this passage, we can learn five keys for missional living.

1. Be Authentic

Paul admitted he was having to renounce certain things. There were desires that did not honor God, but he was not allowing those desires to control him. He refused to lose heart. He saw that as cowardly. He honestly desired to honor God above all things. He was not trying to trick anyone. He was not superficially religious, but transparent, humble and real.

If we want to make a difference in our world, we must be authentic each and every day. We should strive to be the same person on Monday that we were on Sunday. We should love God and serve others because this is the model we see for daily living in Scripture.

2. Stand on the Word of God

Paul saw no other option. He believed in a straightforward presentation of the Word of God. Over and over again, he simply presented the Word of God.

Often, we want to do anything but simply present the Word of God. Paul would urge us to stand on the Word. Present Christ as the solution to all of life’s difficulties because He is the only one who can ultimately do anything about it.

3. Expect Opposition

Paul, in this passage, determines that the Gospel is veiled to those hearing his message. When they did not understand, they easily dismissed, discounted or persecuted Paul because of the message. This was nothing new or unexpected for Paul.

So many times, when we encounter opposition the first thing we do is RUN! Paul would encourage us to expect opposition and preach the gospel in the face of opposition.

4. Speak of Jesus

When we are living missional lives, it is easy to speak of Jesus. No transformation can take place a part from Him. Jesus was often on Paul’s lips and he should also be on ours.

5. Serve

Paul saw himself as a servant to the people. Serving them Jesus. He was not looking for position or power. He simply desired for people to know Jesus.

If we want to live Missional Lives, we will recognize these five keys and be certain they work their way into the fabric of our lives.

Value: Intimacy With Christ

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 Missions 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.

Intimacy with Christ is an imperative for every Christ follower and the first value of our church. Intimacy means closeness, togetherness, affection, confidence. If we do not walk in intimacy with Christ, we’ll never be able to join Him in the mission.

The key to intimacy with Christ can be summed up in one simple word: ABIDE.

To abide is to remain. It seems to suggest an effortless resting in the Lord.

In John 15, the Scripture says:

 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

If we want intimacy with Christ, this passage shows us that we must abide in Christ. Our heavenly Father will fashion us into who He wants us to be as we abide in Him. It will not always be easy or painless, but the resulting intimacy with Christ will be worth it.

All who desire to be used of God, must walk closely with Him. If we want God to use Apex Baptist Church in 2015, then we MUST intentionally focus on living intimately with Christ.

I can’t wait to see all God does in us and through us in 2015. We’re off to a great start. So lets continue to walk with Christ!!

How to Prepare to Hear Sunday’s Sermon

I’m writing my Ministry Project Report for the Doctor of Ministry program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the process of doing research for the report, I came across Thadeus L. Bergmeier’s book, Helping Johnny Listen: Taking Full Advantage of the Sermons We Hear. This book offers great tips that help people come prepared to hear preaching.

Here is a summary of the points in this portion of the book:

To prepare physically:

1. Come Rested – So many people race into church exhausted. Sitting still for the 30-40 minute sermon can be quite challenging when a person is not rested. (Although it is quite entertaining from the platform to watch)

2. Come Filled – Eat something before church! The enemy will distract you  with hunger. Come filled and ready to concentrate because God is speaking.

3. Come Healthy – Avoid situations and things that are going to produce illness that will keep you from coming to church and being under the preaching of God’s word.

4. Come Focused – It is very easy to become so engaged in other things rather than the sermon being preached.  When the sermon begins, lock in on it and tune out all other things.

5. Come Regularly – Church should not be an option for the person who claims the name of Jesus.

6. Come Thoughtfully – come prepared to read the Bible and take notes. Bring a copy of God’s Word that you can mark in it all that God is speaking to you.

To prepare spiritually:

1. Come Hungry – Yes, be filled with physical food, but we should come anticipating and hungry for spiritual food.

2. Come Worshipping – Worshipping God is not a light switch. It is not something that can be turned on at the right time. It is a lifestyle. We cultivate it all day, every day.

A.W. Tozer – “If you cannot worship the Lord in the midst of your responsibilities on Monday, it is not very likely that you were worshiping on Sunday!”

3. Come Praying – Pray for the service, the preacher and the sermon.

4. Come Expecting – We should expect God to move in our hearts and in our church. Could the reason sermons have had so little impact be because we did not expect to get anything from them while they were being preached?

5. Come Forgiving – We must forgive others because we have been forgiven  so much.

When You Leave a Church Staff…

I recently resigned my position as East Campus Pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church to become the Lead Pastor at Apex Baptist Church.  This decision was not made lightly because we really enjoyed the leadership God had us under and the ministry that he had entrusted to us.

So when it became obvious that God was calling my family to Apex, I desperately wanted to figure out how to leave from the church staff at Biltmore well.  I am not saying I got it all right, but I wanted to offer a couple tips that I learned along the way.

First, Know your Leader. When you work with someone day in and day out, you should learn how he responds to different situations.  You should know if you leader can handle walking through the process with you or if he will take it personally and cut you out of the loop as you walk the process. When you are considering bringing your leader in on the process, realize that timing is everything.  If he is having a rough day, rushing out the door to an important meeting, or just ready to go home, it is better to wait. I went to talk to Pastor Bruce three different times before I brought it up. It took about a week of trying to talk with him about it to find the right time.  When I did it was a good conversation.  Pastor was very gracious and kind. I realize that I was lucky enough to work for a very secure leader.  This was very important to the situation. He wanted to see me succeed.  He is a mentor to me and I was able to bring him in on the process early.  God used Pastor Bruce tremendously in my life as I walked this journey.

Second, Keep it Confidential. You will be tempted to tell your closest friends and co-workers, but it is unnecessary.  No one except your leader needs to know.  Keep him in the loop and let him decide when to bring other people into the conversation. He’s the leader. He will still be serving the church after you leave. Let him release the information in the manner and timing that he desires.  Recognition for your work will come if it comes. Its not about you leaving, but its about the ministry of the church continuing and the gospel advancing.

Third, Work Hard. You will be tempted to coast.  You will be tempted to pack it in and wait for the time to pass.  That is the last thing you should do.  It is not wise to make plans for the ministry you lead after you are gone, but you can still develop people.  Literally, work yourself out of a job. Cover every thing you do. Work to make the ministry function without you until a new leader can come replace you.  As you come down the home stretch to announcing your resignation, make sure people see others where they normally see you. It is not that you are not there, but other staff members are there with you. The hard work when leaving a ministry position is making certain you develop others around you so that your are not missed.  Don’t pack your office before your last day or during office hours. WORK HARD UNTIL THE END.

Fourth, Be a Unifier.  Focus on unity. This is not your opportunity to tell your leader everything that is done wrong at the church.  This is an opportunity to encourage and empower others who must continue to carry the baton long after your leave.  This goes for staff and lay people.  It is easy to get caught up with all the things that are not perfect at the church… Well, there is no perfect church. Keep your mouth shut and work to strengthen the unity of the body as you leave.

Again, I am certain I did not get it all right, but these are some priorities that I maintained as I stepped aside at Biltmore. Hopefully they are helpful to you…