Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If I had a Million Dollars

So I heard today that a church startup that I knew about who had a significant amount of resources given to it is struggling to get going. Then I also saw some media from a new church plant that was amazing. I was looking around their website and they had on there what their “needs” were for the first two years. They want to raise over a million dollars to cover the first two years.

Veritas had some incredible financial blessings given to it. I am so thankful to Metrobrook for having me on staff for two years to start learning this church startup thing. We also had a very significant gift from a family and many normal people giving twenty dollars a month.

There are a lot of things I thought we needed that we don’t need. There is equipment, resources, and people I thought we needed that we really don’t need. Do I still want some of that stuff? Yep. But we don’t need it.

Is stuff wrong? No. But it is not necessary. This is what I would say to a person talking about a new church startup:

#1 Make sure you are called to do this. You have to KNOW this is what God is calling you to do. If you don’t you will give up. It is too hard. If there is something else you can do, Do it. If you are at a place where doing anything but a church plant would be a sin. Then do this.

#2. You need Jesus to grow a church. You don’t need Jesus to put butts in the seats but you do need Jesus to grow the church. You can do a church plant in a white suburb that targets families that has good teaching, music, and kids programs and put butts in the seats. You don’t need Jesus to do that. Your need for Jesus needs to be greater than the need to grow the church.

#3. You don’t need what you think you need because all you really need is Jesus. Remember this. All you need to be the church is a calling, vision, and Jesus. You don’t need a great sound system. You don’t even need a mediocre sound system. You don’t need a building. You don’t need a children’s director. You don’t need a seminary degree. You don’t need video projectors. The church grew and is growing all over the world with way less resources than most kid’s ministries have. The average global church startup leader is a 18 year old Chinese woman with no budget.

We have been lied to. Satan obviously does not want more churches to start up. He has convinced us that we need state of the art this or that. He has convinced us that we need mass amounts of resources to start up another church. Number one that creates a large obstacle for churches and number two puts our faith in the resources instead of Jesus.

You don’t need a million dollars to start a church. If you need Jesus more than you need everything else than go ahead and gather your resources. Our trust needs to be in Jesus and not a bunch of dead presidents.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Baptism by Pobby

Wow.  What a weekend!!! Vicky and I celebrated quite a bit of life change this weekend. 

First we had our baptisms at South Shore Park here in the lovely Bay View Neighborhood of Milwaukee.  It was encouraging to hear the stories of those getting baptized. When I doubt what we are doing sometimes I can go back to these stories.  I know God is using Veritas as his tool to do what he wants to do.  

Also we experienced quite a bit of life change at home.  Caleb went from peeing in his diaper to peeing in the pobby. (He pronounces potty as pobby)  I can’t believe how proud I am of him. He had some really rough moments but he came through in the end.  Are we accident free? NO  I caught him pooping in his cute little elmo underpants this morning.  

The one thing I saw this weekend is that life change is hard.  For Caleb it meant tears and holding his pee for an incredibly long time.  It meant a massive shift for him from diapers to the pobby.  To change a behavior he was comfortable with and was easier.  It was harder to go in the potty and not in his pants.  It was new for him.  He had times of failure. He had times of success.  We gave him grace and correction in his failures and encouragement and reward in his success.  In the end the payoff will be greater then the trouble.  Who wants to be fifteen years old having “accidents” in their pants?

For the people getting baptized it was about shifting from living for themselves to living for Jesus.  They stood in the water and identified Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Also they declared that they have chosen to follow Jesus for the rest of their days.  They will not be perfect but God will be there to give grace and correction when they fail.  He will also send encouragement and reward along the way with their successes.  There might be tears. It will be easier to live for themselves.  In the end though the is the payoff of life lived on earth with purpose and in heaven with God for eternity is so much more worth it then the alternative.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Life Change is hard work

So we have completed day one of Potty Training Boot Camp as we are calling it.  Vicky took the day shift while I was at work and then I took over for a couple hours before Caleb went to bed.  Caleb was exhausted before bed.  He seemed so tired from the day of hard work.  I was also pretty wiped out after the couple of hours on duty as the pee sergeant. 

This is a fairly drastic change of behavior for Caleb.  He is moving from pooping and peeing anytime he wants to having a place and time to do it.  He is taking on, mostly we are making him, a whole new set of behaviors and patterns.  He is doing a good job for day one.  He even told me he had to go pee and then went pee. To me that is a good milestone for day one.

We are doing baptisms this weekend at Veritas.  We are going to a park for our service, baptizing people in Lake Michigan, then having lunch at the park with everybody.  As we are taking on this potty training adventure I am thinking about the people to get baptized this weekend.  When we give our life to Jesus we are moving from living for ourselves to living for God. This should be a drastic change of behavior.  My biggest trepidation about doing baptisms is that I have seen so many people get baptized and then walk away from Jesus.  Truly giving our life to Jesus involves changing what our life is about.  It should take effort. It is going to be hard.  You should be tired.  We all have patterns in our life shaped by a natural tendency to do things our way.  Those patterns need to be put to death.  Those things in our life should be changed because they don’t please God.  Maybe we should all go through a LIfe Change Boot Camp. Why don’t we take more drastic measures to change our behaviors?  Why are we still comfortable going in our pants and letting it sit there so to speak?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why go to church?

Why would I take time out every week to go to church? Is weekly attendance just something to check off my to do list? Do I think somehow I get in good with God if I show up to a church on the weekend? 

This is not the case for me. 

This is probably not the case for most people. You see the average “consistent” church goer attends about twice a month. This means that there are many people who identify with a church community that only show up to half of the gatherings of that given community. Now keep in mind that most churches only gather together once a week for maybe an hour and half TOPS. So church obviously isn’t something to check off because if it was people would find a way to etch out an hour and half a week if it was something to be checked off. So if that isn’t the case maybe showing up to church is a way to get in good with God. Although I don’t think this is the reason either. If weekly attendance was a way to get in good with God then it would be important enough to go every week. If I only show up half the time then I am doing a miserable job at getting in good with God. 

So I am kinda at a loss of why people go. As a pastor of a small church I notice when people are not there. I notice that this twice a month attendance from “committed” people is fairly true. 

I know why I go though. I know why I have given my life to the church. I know why I continue to be the pastor of a small infant church in the city of Milwaukee instead of giving up to find another job at a church with a bigger budget, more people, and the ability to get paid to do what I love to do. I know why my two year old son has missed less church in the past year than you probably have. I know why I am leading this church with no guarantees of getting paid come the new year. I know why I am at our gathering place every week and hour and half early. I know why I have took a pay cut from warehouse work to be a student pastor, and then took another pay cut to become the lead pastor of a church start up. I know why I have probably missed less weekend gatherings at church in my lifetime than most “committed” church people miss in a year. 

I go because it is worth it. 

You see I chose to give my life to follow Jesus at a young age. I asked that God forgive me for the evil things that were and are in my life. I am trusting him with my future. I am trusting that Jesus is who he said he was. I am trusting him for everything. I am trusting that what he said is true. That he came to this earth and was murdered for me. That because of the sin in my life there is no way I could ever get to God. There was no way I could ever get to heaven because I was good enough. My good enough would never be good enough for God. God is Holy and he cannot tolerate anything less. I believe that Jesus was perfect. He lived out the holiness that God required and then took what was coming to me. He took the death I had earned by my sinfulness on himself. He gave his perfect life for my imperfection. He was laid in a tomb so that a tomb would not be my final resting place. That it isn’t because of anything I can do on my own that God should take me as his own. It is only through the undeserved grace of God that I have any hope. I believe that because I have put my faith and trust in Jesus, God doesn’t count my sin against me. When he looks at me he sees Jesus’ sacrifice instead of my sin.

You see this is why I go to church. I am human. I fall short all the time. I sin all the time. I try to live out the way of Jesus as best I can but I am daily, hourly, sometimes minutely doing things that don’t live out the way of Jesus. I am frail. There is this bent we have as humans to do it our own way. So I have made this choice to follow Jesus and live life his way. Sometimes I still do it my way instead. It never works out for the best when I do it my way. Although God has proven himself over and over I still doubt him.

I go to church because I am frail. I doubt. I go because I have bad weeks. I have bad days. I have times that I choose to do it my way instead of God’s way. When I gather with other people that are either trying to live out the way of Jesus like me or are seeking out the way of Jesus it reminds me that I am not in this alone. That I am not the only nut out there that believes this stuff. When I teach or hear teaching it reminds me that this life that Jesus calls me to really is amazing. When I sing out loud about God’s amazing grace or that he is mighty to save it reminds me that others believe that too. It reminds me that there is a God who loves and has died for all. It reminds me that God is still on his throne and that there are others that call him Lord. 

When we as a church come together at church to worship, learn, and be with each other. We are also saying that we identify with a community that acknowledges that we need God. You may have time throughout the week you set aside to focus on God or pray but when you gather with others publicly you set a priority in your life. You communicate to your friends, family, and mostly yourself that my life with God and others is important. Important enough for me to be here every week. I may be having a great week and maybe on a given Sunday not need to be reminded of that, but someone else might be. By showing up and identifying yourself with this community you are making the statement that this life following Jesus is a priority in your life. I think we need to remind ourselves of this and maybe by just showing up you are supporting someone else that is wondering if it is worth it.

I go to church every week I am able because I need to. If you don’t need to and you have this life with Jesus thing all figured out good for you. I don’t have it all figured out. I still need to be reminded that God is great, that there are others around me that believe the same thing I do, that I am part of a community where God is changing people, transforming our relationships, building his church and impacting the world. That there are people who will pray, encourage, and be the church with me. 

So for all those who don’t have it all figured out, for all those who still need to reminded that you aren’t in this alone, for all of those of you who call Jesus saviour and don’t always act like it, for all of those of you who wonder about this Jesus, for those of you who don’t think God believes in you: I’ll see you on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Veritas Prayer Update 7-21-09

Hello everybody.  I know that it has once again been a while since we sent out the last update.  Here is a quick catch up.  We last left you with Tim transitioning back into doing Veritas full time and moving to a morning gathering.

Well that transition is going well. There is a renewed sense of power in my teaching and it is a joy being able to lead the church again along side Vicky.  It took me a couple weeks to get back into the groove and align my focus again.  

Since coming back on full time and moving to the morning we are seeing God working.  God is raising up leaders in the church to take over key areas.  Jodi has been with us for a while now and has made a home here at Veritas.  She was helping with worship vocally and now has asked to take the lead in that area.  We also had someone from Metrobrook join us at Veritas to play guitar.  These are two huge answers to prayer.  

Also we had Zac and Sara step up and take over leadership of our kids ministry.  I can’t believe the passion they have to lead and teach these kids the way of Jesus.  It is also special because they are two former students of ours from our student ministry.  To see God raise them and give them a vision is such a joy.  

We asked our people to put into practice what they learned in our last series “Lead Where You Are” and plan for some summer Bay View events for us to be able to meet the community and introduce ourselves. They hit it out of the park!  We will be doing a Noah’s Ark theme at some key community events (August 4 and 8) - and it will be OVER THE TOP!  We are “building” an ark, we will have people in animal costumes walking around, games for kids, etc.  We have yet another new leader Anita heading up this project and everyone else is pitching in somewhere!

We are seeing God building the leadership infrastructure for growth. We are seeing God put puzzle pieces into place that weren’t there before.  We have people that are excited to serve.  We are READY for God to bring the people!

We also found out because of some church connections we could get a really good rate for Willow Creek Association’s Leadership Summit. So we presented it to our church.  We have ten people going who are taking two days to increase their leadership quotient.  Keep in mind we probably have around 20 people tops right now on a Sunday. I love this church!  We have at least half of our church going to the Summit.  We can’t wait to see what God is going to ignite in our people through this experience.  

We see God working in this expression of the bride of Jesus.  We love where we are right now as a church because our only hope is God.  Philippians 4:6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  We have every earthly reason to worry.  I don’t know if we will have a church or income in the new year.  Our desire is not to worry about that.  We want to instead tell God what we need. We need Him! We need Him more than we need Veritas to grow.  We need Him more than we need an income.  I want to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection (Phil 3:7-8).  If our church grows, great.  If it doesn’t God is still good and he is still on the thrown and he has other plans for us.  

As you pray for Veritas pray that our first love and desire will be to know God.  I pray that for you as well. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Meet the Owner Day

No surprise I’m at Stone Creek. This is not just another day at Stone Creek.  It is “Meet the Owner Day.”  It seems a little odd to me.  Some people come in here every day like me and for some this is the occasional stop on their way to work. I am not understanding why this guy is here.  For the regulars our connection is with the people who work here everyday.  For the people for whom this is a stop on the way to work they just want coffee.  I don’t think they care who is at the top of the money making chain.  This guy has no relevancy for me.  Stone Creek to me is Erica, Ben, Natalie, and Liam.  Its not this guy sitting next to me?

I would have to admit sometimes when our church gathers I see it as a “Meet the Owner” experience.  In reality there are some people who want to meet the leader of a community of faith.  I need to realize though that those people’s connection is with the people they came with.   The connection to any organization most the time will not be with the “top” of the organization its with the bottom.  The connection is with the people who love the organization and are fans of it.  

Our real goal should be to empower the people who have the connections to help drive the organization.  Let the manager at a certain location do what he feels would best for his store. The suggestion box needs to be a vital part of the organization.  Then follow up with those people to develop the idea, explain the obstacles the idea faces, or clarify the idea.  

Monday, July 13, 2009


I have been a Christian for over twenty years.  I grew up in the church.  God has always been entwined into my life.  I have always known about prayer. I have prayed too many times for me to count.  I have prayed with confidence like it talks about in Hebrews.  When we approach the thrown of God with confidence.  I have prayed for many things. I have prayed responding to who God is.  I have worshiped through prayer. I have confessed the ways I fall short of my Father’s desires.  I have prayed.  

Why then is prayer still such a mystery.  I am discovering new rhythms to prayer.  These rhythms are not in 4/4 time.  These are not the rhythms I am used to.  It feels awkward.  It feels unnatural.  My arms and feet have to move with effort to play with these new rhythms.  

The rhythm is foreign but I love the song I am hearing.  

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Toilet Paper Holder

There is a toilet paper holder in the men’s bathroom of the coffee shop that we work in that doesn’t work well.  You see it is a fancy toilet paper holder.  It doesn’t have the spring loaded stick through the middle.  The spring loaded stick works great for me at home.  I have never had a problem with that system.  The coffee shop has a holder that has two arms that have nubbins on them to hold the roll from the side.  There is nothing that goes through the tube.  It just holds the roll with these nubbins that only go a little way into the tube.  The problem lies in the fact that the nubbins don’t hold the roll.  The arms are not tight enough to hold the roll. So when the roll gets about halfway down the holder barely holds the roll.  

As a leader in the church I have a temptation to reinvent what we do.  I think most of us can admit that the church as a whole isn’t hitting on all cylinders.  My temptation is to change and question everything, to reinvent the wheel.  Sometimes we forget that the wheel works.  Its round, it rolls, and it works.  We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The toilet paper holder doesn’t need to be reinvented.  The spring loaded stick through the middle of the roll works.  I don’t need arms with nubbins failing me when there are spring loaded sticks in the world.  

There are reasons that all the other entities that do what you do, do what they do.  Fast food joints have drive through windows.  This works. Maybe we could make it work better but to have fast food without a drive through window would be either stupid or groundbreaking. 

What is it that you question that just works?  What is something that we have accepted as the way to do it that could be reinvented?