A Development In Our Relationship (Guest Post: Johnathan Sublet)

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When figuring out how to help someone who contacts us or whom we are connected with our team tries to use this chart. We try not to treat a relief situation like a development situation because that is heartless. We try not to treat a development situation like a relief situation because that is toxic. This week we have seen the results of long-term relief.

Sublet Chart

It seems that we would have learned from our efforts to try and solve other social problems in the same way. Long-term relief that does not turn into development is often left lacking.

When it comes to racial unity within the body of Christ the response has often been held to that of relief. There has been an immediate response to catastrophe but little lasting development, deep relationship building. We have the stats and the eye test that tells us that we are not as unified as we should be but our answer continues to be post tragedy community worship services and prayer vigils. These are great relief efforts in reconciliation but not vital development opportunities.  Therefore, we find ourselves in the same spot. So what…

What is the most hurtful?

The most hurtful thing is that sometimes African Americans have fallen victim to the gospel-plight. The gospel plight is that the majority of Christians who don’t share their faith will initially say that they don’t do so because they feel ill-equipped to speak on the matter. When in reality after more discussion more will tell you it is really a fear of rejection issue. When it comes to tragedies in the African American community often it seems that our Anglo brothers and sisters follow the same line of explanation.

That is a universal problem but where it turns into its deepest form of hurt is when African Americans see our Anglo brothers and sisters use their platforms to respond to the tragedies and injustices they see in other areas. We begin to view it as we are not worth the risk of rejection. Our unity becomes one of convenience. The silence brings us to tears.

Another issue is the comment of “just stop talking about race” or “I don’t see color”. The question is why is it considered beautiful in nature when complementary colors are placed together by God in a sunset and nature scenes but not in our relationships, churches, and etc? We do see color. Seeing color is not the problem. How we interpret that color is the problem.

What do we do?

  1. Form real relationships outside of programmed and structured time with people not like you.  Don’t take the sucker’s choice. When tragedy happens think of not only the joy of the messiah being born but also the hurt of all the mothers who had their young boys killed by Herod. Crying with the weeping mother does not mean you can’t rejoice at the birth of the Savior. Mourning at injustice with your African American brothers and sisters doesn’t mean that you can’t also mourn at the senseless killing of police officers.
  2. Use your platform for injustice near and far. Speak carefully but at least let it be known that you identify with the hurt. When you get more information have more informed conversations. Review your posts, likes, and shares. What perception do they give?
  3. Begin to see our cultures and backgrounds as enhancers instead of divisors. Our heart, passions, abilities, personalities, cultural backgrounds, and experiences make our team better. See diversity in background and culture the same way you see a beautiful Caribbean sunset bursting with color. Both should bring a tear of amazement and wonder to our eyes.
  4. I am saving the hardest for last. We need some multi-ethnic churches with leadership that reflects the make-up of our community. We need bodies of believers that model what it means to do life together. That will mean for some leaving the place where you are comfortable, moving into new communities, with new neighbors, and planting new churches that resemble the community God gives you a heart for.

Is it worth it?

Christ thought it was. He was utterly different from all mankind but He came and dwelled with us.

 

 

[Johnathan Sublet is a follower of Christ, a husband to Tricia, and a son to Diane. He has a deep love for the people and city of FREEPORT, Texas where he serves as the Servant Pastor of Crossover Community Church. He considers BBQ a love language.]

Mourn, Listen, Pray

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I have been struggling today to make sense of all the social media posts, news coverage and the like in the wake of the senseless tragedies in Louisiana and Minnesota.  Here’s what I’m doing right now.  Maybe it will help you.

Mourn. The bible instructs us to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12.15). There aren’t qualifiers here. It isn’t mourn with people you agree with. It isn’t mourn with people who you share ethnicity with. It is mourn with those who mourn. Men have died.  Their families are hurting.  There is mourning to be done now.  Recognize this for what it is: tragedy.  Weep and mourn.

Listen. Believers need to listen quickly, speak slowly, and anger slowly (James 1.19).  I talked to several African-American pastor friends today. I expressed my brokenness over all the recent news incidents. I’ve asked what should I do.  They all said essentially the same thing: listen.  Engage your black friends and do so without bringing your perceptions and conceptions. There is more going on then meets the eye. Listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Learn hurts, feelings, and pains.

Pray. In all things pray (Philippians 4.6) . Not sure what to do? Pray. Not sure how to respond? Pray. Fearful? Pray. Worried? Pray. It’s the most you can do.  Here are some things that we need to pray for:

There is certainly more to do.  There is certainly more that needs to be done, for now though: mourn, listen, pray.

Kevin Durant to the Warriors: 4 Millennial Observations

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I just got done listening to an interview with Charles Barkley about Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors.  To be clear… Charles Barkley is not a fan.  Neither is Stephen A. Smith of ESPN who did a Live Facebook feed of his rant about Durant’s departure and had 4million viewers.

As I listen to these two well known basketball personalities I think that the issue is that there is a generational divide.  Older generations are struggling to figure out the Millennial Generation.  I’m one of the oldest members of the Millennial Generation and as a result I have my foot in this generation and the one following it.

Here are some observations about Kevin Durant and millennials that help bring clarity to this generation.  These are just some observations and comparisons.  I’m not a researcher, but these are characteristics I’ve noticed over years of ministering to millennials:

  1. Kevin Durant wanted a great team.  Millennials like joining something great with a great vision rather than striving for individual greatness.  They find their identity in the collective.  They want to be recognized for great individual contribution on the team, but they want to be part of something great.
  2. Kevin Durant didn’t want to play with a selfish Russell Westbrook.  Millennials don’t like working with selfish people.  Frequently called a selfish generation, millennials are more likely to reject those who are always craving the limelight.  They care about themselves, but they like the idea of sharing.
  3. Kevin Durant took less money to play for the Warriors. Millennials like money, but it isn’t everything.  Millennials prefer security.  Once they have a perceived sense of security they’ll do almost anything.
  4. Durant valued relationships. Millennials care about the people around them.  They want to work with people they love.  Leaders need to strive for this type of loving environment.

Durant is a millennial like many of those within our churches and ministries.  We need to understand them, not complain about them.  They want strong vision, selfless teammates, personal sense of security, and meaningful relationships.  That sounds like the basis of a great team, organization or ministry.

 

Leaders Steer Clear of Complaining: 3 Ways to Keep from Complaining

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Does anyone like a complainer?  Does anyone like hearing grumbling?  The answer is, obviously, no.  Complaints discourage, frustrate and slow the growth of you and others.  That’s why Paul tells the Philippians believers, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” (Philippians 2:14).  Leaders especially need to keep themselves free from complaining in order to point the direction forward.  People don’t follow laments, they follow leaders.

3 Ways a leader can keep from complaining.

  1. Pray.  It isn’t trite and small, it is the biggest and best thing we can do in the middle of frustrating circumstances.  When we take the problem, person, or problem person to the Lord, more often than not our hearts change.  We see things differently.
  2. Think. Rather than complain spend some time thinking about how you can fix the situation.  What is ONE thing you can do right now to fix the situation? What are steps you can take to deal with the issue? Sometimes, it is totally out of your hands, but there is typically SOMETHINGS you can come up with to help.
  3. Act. You can’t just make a plan as to how to deal with a situation.  YOU. MUST. ACT.  You have to follow through on the thing that would help.  You’ve got to deal with it.  This is one of the hardest aspects of leadership.  You don’t want to hurt someone, you don’t want to stir the pot more, or you’re afraid of some other outcome.  Leadership requires prayerful, thoughtful action.

Focus To Lead: 3 Questions to Refine Vision

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In order to lead well you need focus.  I love this quote by Steve Jobs:

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

You, your church, your ministry cannot do everything.  Trying to focus on multiple priorities and initiatives is a recipe for disaster.  You can’t be everything, stop getting frustrated over it.  Find the vision for what God has called you to do and focus on that.

Focusing on God’s vision for you means shedding all the other extras that don’t matter.  It means cutting fat, canceling programs, and doing what matters most in accord with your vision.

Start with these 3 questions to help begin the process:

  1. What is the purpose of this ministry/church/church plant?
    • What do you feel God calling you to do?
    • What are hoping to accomplish?
    • What large need do you see that needs to be addressed?
  2. Who is the focus of this ministry/church/church plant?
    • What group of people are you trying to help?
    • Is there a certain demographic you are seeking to serve?
  3. What are the needs the people that this ministry/church/church plant are trying to meet?
    • Get specific. Everyone needs Jesus, that can’t be the specific need you are trying to meet.  Think about the need you can meet to earn the right to speak about Jesus.
    • Where are these people lacking?
    • What are they missing?

To get more help on refining vision sign up for a coaching appointment here

Serve to Lead

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The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV)

Jesus’ leadership style is different than most business leaders. Leading like Jesus led means giving yourself up like Jesus gave himself up.  He was the greatest among his disciples and he washed all of their  feet.  All of them… even Judas.  He served.  He died.  He surrendered himself for others.  If you desire to lead others in ministry, business, or your home then you have to put their needs first.

To say it simply: “If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you”.  If you can’t serve others then you aren’t qualified to lead them.

  • Men, if you won’t serve then you aren’t ready to be a husband and father.
  • Ministry Professional, don’t complain about people in your church not serving, if you don’t set the example by serving them in tangible ways.
  • Business Professional, if you won’t serve then you won’t be able to practically demonstrate the gospel you believe.
  • Church Planter, if you won’t serve your community then your sapling church won’t thrive and likely won’t survive.

If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you.  However, if you take up the high calling to serve, like Jesus, like his disciples, you will soon be recognized as a leader by those people.

Focus on serving others and soon others will focus on following you

…and you’ll still need to serve them…it’s what we do

You Can Do It! Small Is Significant In Church Planting

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My name is Jason Crandall.  I am a nobody.  I’m the proud owner of a lot of “nevers.”

I’ve never been on staff at a megachurch.

I’ve never led a college Bible study of thousands…or hundreds…or dozens, for that matter.

I’ve never written a book.

I’ve never been on TBN (not on a segment I’d admit to, anyway).

I’m just your run-of-the-mill pastor.  I love Jesus. I love His church.  I believe it is the hope of the world.  And because of that, I believe nobodies can make a difference.

I believe that any size church can be involved in the most effective means of disciple-making in our world today — church planting. We can saturate our areas with the gospel, no matter what the attendance numbers on the roll sheet say.

Our Story

My launch team and I planted a church near Houston 2 years ago.  Our church has grown both numerically and spiritually.  In those first two years, we’ve sent two church plants that are growing today.  Additionally, we have another resident who we are sending in a few short months.  Averaging 150 people every Sunday, we’re a small church by anyone’s standards. We may be small, but we love equipping and sending others out to accomplish the Great Commission.  We love thinking about the effect we can have over the long haul, and how we are trying to make going to Hell hard in Houston, Texas.

How?

There are a few simple steps that any church can take to make a big impact for church planting.

  • Conviction: It is critical that the Senior or Lead Pastor is convinced that the church is God’s plan for gospel advance in this world, and that church planting is the most effective way to make that happen.  This core conviction shaped our direction as we planted.  We decided we didn’t want to build a megachurch, but instead wanted to create a collective of churches that would blanket the megacity of Houston, rather than only a single church in a single suburb.
  • Communication: As people, it is true that what we care about, we talk about. Talking about the things we love is easy and comes naturally to us.  That said, if church planting is a core conviction of your church, then talk about it constantly. Talk about it in meetings.  Preach about from the pulpit.  Converse about it over coffee.  This way, even the most curmudgeonly of people in your church will want to make an impact for the Kingdom.  For instance, one family we approached to join our launch team was reluctant to accept.  Church planting was a foreign concept to them.  They had only known one established church, and they liked it that way. But they heard our church planting vision over and over again, and they joined the team. In fact, they heard and believed in the vision so much that you could say these established-church cheerleaders caught church planting fever. After being with our original plant for 18 months, they joined our next launch team to go and plant a new church, where they are currently attending and serving. Communicating the conviction mattered.
  • Collaboration:  Get leaders in your church in a room with a whiteboard and share the conviction clearly.  Pray together and ask the question: “How can we be involved in church planting?” Brainstorm.  Dream about how your church can be involved.  To get ideas about how to prompt conversations with your people, consider talking to your local association or the SBTC.  For example, our local association is working hard to plant churches all over our area by making training, funding, and residencies available to men who are feeling called to plant.  The SBTC is without equal in their desire to help churches plant churches all over the state of Texas.
  • Cash:  Gospel saturation through church planting doesn’t happen without God’s people giving financially towards God’s mission.  Yes, budgets do have to be considered and decisions made. This year, I’m proud to say that our church is giving away 10.5% of our Tithes & Offerings to church planting (that is over and above our giving to the Cooperative Program and our local association).  From day one, we have set aside at least 5% of our tithes and offerings for the purpose of church planting.  Set a percentage aside. Take up a special offering for the purpose of supporting a planter.  Support a SBTC Church Planting Center.  These are churches that have been vetted and approved by the SBTC to send planters.  They train planters and send them prepared into the field.
  • Chart The Course:  For the purposes of this article, we’ll say the conviction exists, the communication is happening, collaboration is going on, and cash is being set aside.  Now create the plan.  Outline a specific plan for how your church is going to participate in church planting over the next year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years.  It has been said that we radically overestimate what we can do in one year and severely underestimate what we can do in 20 years.  So true. Proverbs 21:5 tells us that the plans of the diligent lead to abundance. Get a long-range plan going, set goals, and work to achieve them.  Your diligent plans to make an impact by church planting will see an abundance of fruit for the Kingdom.

I’m not really a music person myself, but I think that the Williams Brothers got it right when they wrote the lyrics, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody / about somebody who can save anybody.” It encourages me to remember that in regards to evangelism, and as someone who is part of a big church or a small church, it should encourage you too. We’re all just nobodies trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody.

And I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, that they can help plant a church.

 

Gospel Lens

I have AWFUL eyesight. Without my glasses or contacts I am basically blind. When I wake up in the morning my first reach is for my glasses , just so I can see my alarm clock. My eyesight is horrible. One time I couldn’t find my glasses or my contacts case. I was so frustrated, but the moment I found my glasses behind the nightstand and put them on everything was clear. I could see clearly what was around me. I think that’s what Philippians 1.12-14 is all about.

The Scripture (Philippians 1.12-14 ESV)

[12] I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, [13] so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. [14] And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul is writing to a great church. He’s writing to a church that he loves AND he’s writing from…PRISON. Paul is saying in verse 12 that him being in prison is actually a good thing. He’s telling this church not to pity him, but to see that prison is a good thing. Prison isn’t bad in Paul’s estimation because he’s viewing prison through lenses that see life differently. He’s viewing life and his circumstances through Gospel Lenses and that clarifies EVERYTHING that he goes through…even prison.

Paul has taken the chance to tell every guard that he’s had and every jailer who’s come by and all the prisoners that are around him about Jesus. He views his prison as a place where people don’t know Jesus and need to. He sees it as a place that is dark and need of light and he gets to bring the light there. I doubt that this is the natural inclination of people going to prison especially when you don’t deserve to be there. Paul didn’t fight, he didn’t complain, he just advanced the Gospel within the prison walls

One More Thing

He didn’t just advance the Gospel on his own. His imprisonment made others more bold. Why? Not because he was in prison, but because of his VIEW of his imprisonment. He viewed it not as a sad circumstance and something to be depressed about, but as the next mission field that he was supposed to be on. This made others more bold to share the Gospel in their places of business, home, and life. Paul’s gospel-centered view made others more gospel-centered. Had he seen life through a self-centered lens he would definitely be down and depressed, I wouldn’t blame him, but he wouldn’t have inspired others to walk a gospel-centered path. Others wouldn’t have become more bold…I firmly believe EVERY circumstance and trial exists for the Gospel to advance. Find the way and advance it.