September, 2001 was a month that will forever be burnt into my memory. I was interviewed for my first ministry position as a student ministries pastor at a church outside Anderson, IN. This was so shocking to me… the leaders of this church entrusted me with keys to the building and the actual student ministry.
They might not have liked all the things that happened in my ministry this just so happens to be setting up an obstacle course for students to go through while while myself and other leaders stood on schavelding shooting paintball guns at them like we were on American Gladiators. They might have liked the fact that a group of 3 students grew into group of 40 + and at times 50 students showed up and destroy the gym. But they actually gave me the keys of leadership when it came to this part of the church. Rev. Jerry Snyder is one of my hero’s when I look back over my life because of this.
Jerry and I had plenty of conversations about the events, games, and challenging messiness of this student ministry, but to his credit he just kept trusting with leadership in this area.
In this area I want to follow in his example. Over the past 16+ years I’ve learned that empowering leaders is part of the process of making a lasting impact as a church. This is crucial for churches. Empowering is so much more than simple delegation.
When we are delegated a task we are simply handed a task that our leader really didn’t want to do in her job responsibilities. But if that leader empowers others she moves into a completely different role.
Empowerment is where things get fun. Delegation simply implies that the task gets done; there is no thought of it getting done or accomplished in a better or more efficient way.
When we empower someone it requires we explain the “why” behind the what. I️t also means we trust the person to accomplish the task in a completely different way than we might have hoped for. It also means we are ok with things being accomplished in ways that we didn’t expect. This forces us to explain why we would do something or make a decision. If we neglect to do this, we have only delegated the task. If that is the case as a leader we must be ok with the task being done in a different manner than we envisioned.
Empowerment kind of implies a relationship between the leader and the other person. I personally haven’t seen empowerment take place void of a relationship. So if you’re a leader and want to expand your leadership capability it probably starts with your relationships. Make sure the people you work with know you and know you care for them. Invest in their lives add value to them on a personal level and professional level.
This might mean having a line item in your budget for ‘value adding’ for your staff, bring them coffee, learn their love language and make sure you communicate this ‘value adding’ part in a way they will understand. You can find more information out athttp://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Take time to explain why you make the decisions you make. Taking the time to explain to your team why you make the decisions you make helps them understand how you think, and what you value. As this takes place you’ll start to see them use this in their own areas and lives.
As a leader you have the challenge to empower others so that they can make a decision within the parameters your as the leader set. As this takes place allowing them to see the why behind the what helps them understand how you think.
80% of our church are under the age of 30. We love that statistic! We also love the fact that from the very beginning we want to empower young leaders to lead the way God has gifted them to.
This summer we held a 8 week course called Leadership Academy. We invited anyone who had graduated high school and under the age of 30 years old to learn from Heather and I and especially from each other. During this time we offered them the reasoning of how we made decisions and how they could use this not only at RE.THINK Church but also at their own workplaces. At the end of this time they got to lead a community event that RE.THINK Church would host. This might have been my favorite thing we have done as a church.
During this process I couldn’t help myself but reflect on the leaders in my story who invested in my life and leadership. I long for the day that some of these amazing talented leaders will do the same thing and remember our investment in their lives.
It’s messy handing keys of leadership off to people, but we love watching leaders lead in ways God has gifted them to!
As a church, we are walking through the concept of big CHURCH. I believe big CHURCH is what Jesus came to start. I know that seems like a strange statement to say, but let me explain.
The word the original authors used in the New Testament part of the Bible for church is ecclesia. Ecclesia means an assembly of people. I’m blown away every time I think about God trusting the most important institute of people. Doesn’t He remember how humanity has screwed things up in the past? Doesn’t He remember the crusades? Adam and Eve in the garden...they ate the fruit. Doesn’t He remember me this morning playing Call of Duty instead of doing the very thing I should have been doing? I guess maybe God looks at humanity and doesn’t see the failures as much as He sees the potential.
The concept of big CHURCH isn’t about getting butts in seats. The concept was about the biggest impact the ecclesia could have in a community, how many lives could be changed by introducing them to Jesus inviting them to be disciples of Jesus. Our view at RE.THINK is that we want to a church that invests in people and empowering people to influence and change the communities we live in.
In Acts 4 Peter and John walk into a bar…. Just kidding they walk into the temple. As they enter the temple they see a man who has been sitting there for 40 years. This man can’t walk, he’s lame. So he relies on the generosity of others to live. As they walk by Peter and John know they should do something, but they do something that no one expected. Peter grabs him by the hand and instructs him to stand up and walk. The guy follows Peter and John into the temple. As they are in the temple there’s a buzz going around. People are talking about the guy who used to sit at the temple door but is not standing in the temple.
Peter gives a sermon and at the end of his sermon, he and John are arrested by the religious leaders of the day. During their trial they instruct Peter and John to stop speaking about how they arrested Jesus, killed Him, but Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John basically tell them, “you do what you gotta do and we’ll do what we gotta do”. They return to the church not a building, but a gathering of people.
While they are there the pray. Their prayer is so encouraging to me. It reminds me what my prayers should look like. They aren’t the focal point of their prayers….. It’s amazing.
“Now, Lord, consider the bad things they say they are going to do. Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4: 29,30)
I love the fact that they ask God to help them speak for Him boldly. It’s not about protecting them, it’s not about self-preservation, it’s about how God can use them to help others understand Jesus.
If we were to make your prayers into a movie who would be the main character? Who would be the main beneficiary?
Studies show that having 4-7 intimate Christian friends and serving in a weekly ministry at a local church are some of the greatest predictors of spiritual growth. So there’s no way we could not value small groups as a church. R|C groups are a great way to help people get connected into the church, mature in their relationship with Jesus, and make deeper relationships with others. To be known and know others.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you haven’t always had the best experience in group settings. To me there is nothing worse than being assigned to a group of people or feeling stuck in a bad group situation. So whenever I heard about “free-market” small groups I was amazed! Someone handed me a catalogue of groups and told me I could pick from what I liked, as well as check a few out, and find out who I really could connect with... without hurting anyone’s feelings. I ended up picking a group of young adults who ate dinner together and read the Bible. Because who doesn’t like free dinner after a long day of work?
As we started the conversation about what small groups would be like at RE.THINK it was clear that we wanted our groups to reflect the personalities and interests of the people at RE.THINK. So every trimester we decided we would have a new set of groups. Leaders would get to choose what they wanted to do in their groups for the trimester. Some groups can be more interest/activity based, some follow particular studies, and some could even be more hands on out in the community serving. We decided to call them R|C Groups.
When I say that I love this style of small groups I mean I really LOVE it! Groups are fun, leaders are passionate because they get to choose something they already love, and there is freedom in getting to choose a group yourself. It’s also a place where people who maybe aren’t up for trying out church yet can feel comfortable attending, asking questions, exploring faith, and making new friends.
I’m looking forward to seeing how creative these groups get going forward. I know churches with groups that meet up to talk about God while water skiing, watching Disney movies with a bowl of popcorn, or while preparing meals for kids in other countries! Once we were challenged as a team to figure out what JWS2 meant.. Turns out it’s an acronym for a small group that was found, and it stood for, “Jesus was single 2!” Hopefully groups will never have to be an obligation but something that we love and get excited about!
So take some time and check out our current RE.THINK Groups for the fall. We hope to see you there!
(of a place) able to be reached or entered.
At one point in Jesus’ life he was sitting in a home in his hometown of Capernaum teaching people. According to the author Luke, religious people came from all over the place to hear Jesus teach. So many people were in the house that they filled the house, and even blocked the entry ways.
At the same time 5 men were desperately trying to meet Jesus, 4 men were carrying 1 man who couldn’t walk. According to Luke, the man on the mat was paralyzed. We don’t know his story, other than he couldn’t walk. In that culture though, if he was paralyzed he most likely was unemployed, he and his family had to rely on the generosity of others to pay bills, eat, live etc. It’s remarkable that these 4 other guys carried this man throughout the village finding where Jesus was. Jesus had a reputation of being able to heal people, blind people were seeing, mute people were talking, paralyzed men were walking, Jesus was able to fix broken things in people’s life in ways like no one had seen before.
When these 5 men finally found where Jesus was they went to the house, but couldn’t get because religious leaders and religious people were in the way. They didn’t even get out of the way… These religious people were so enthralled with hearing Jesus speak. So, instead of turning back or waiting these 4 guys carried their friend up to the roof of the house. This was pretty easy because there would be staircases on the outside of house in that part of the world. They removed the tiles and lowered their friend down to encounter Jesus. When they did this Jesus had a conversation with them, and in that conversation Jesus forgave the man of his sins, and fixed his broken body. He walked out of the house carrying his mat.
This quick event has shaped one of our values at RE.THINK Church. We want to be as accessible as possible. We never want to be the obstacles in the way for people to encounter Jesus. Our personal preferences do not matter when it comes to someone encountering Jesus. Even my personal preferences are up for grabs. We do our best to make sure the mission wins.
We know the message of Jesus is a pretty big obstacle for most people to overcome. So we do our very best to remove as many other obstacles as possible for people who are seeking to have an encounter with Jesus.
We see obstacles as irrelevant music, unclean buildings, non-engaging environments, unsafe environments, and yes even people at times. We’ve had several conversations with people from other churches hoping that RE.THINK Church will be a church where their personal preferences can be lived out. So, we’ve explained this value in a gentle, yet firm manner knowing that if we don’t do it now we will eventually compromise our mission.
Why RE.THINK Church part 3:
featuring new methods; advanced and original; introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking.
I’ve been a pastor since 2001, though I’ve been involved in church to some capacity my entire life. I’ve noticed something about churches….they seem to be the same thing. Every weekend there is a service, songs are sung, someone stands up and gives a message, there’s prayer, and that’s about it. Some churches have kids ministries, some churches don’t. Some churches have youth group and some don’t.
RE.THINK Church has a goal, a mission, to be an innovative church. We don’t want to just start up a church that acts, feels, functions the same as churches we can find anywhere else. Innovation goes beyond cosmetics. I believe innovation goes down into our DNA.
RE.THINK Church resides in Lake County, Indiana. There are 220,000+ people who have no religious affiliation at all. We want to see that number eliminated. Why? Because we believe the message of Jesus is one that will change people’s lives forever. These 220,000+ individuals have stories, reasons, and beliefs that have led them to consciously checked “No Affiliation” in the census. I don’t know their story, but I want to.
I want them to know the grace and mercy I’ve found in Jesus. I want them to know the purpose, guidance, and yeah even the discipline I’ve found in Jesus. Why? Because without all the above and so many other things, my life would be lacking. More importantly, though my life would be void of grace, mercy, purpose, guidance, any form of discipline, and it would be without the assurance that for eternity, Heaven is where I’ll reside with Jesus.
Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." I think it’s time that we recognize this and live it out as a church. In my 16 years as a pastor, I’ve found a lot of churches become consumed with what church people want, prefer, and like, not what would actually make a difference to people in their own communities that have no religious affiliations.
We believe the Bible is our standard, not only does it give us the initiative to find people who don’t know Jesus and allow them to encounter Jesus in a life changing, relevant manner, but it also gives us some clear instructions on what and how to do this. Matthew records Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples as this, “ "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Teaching them to obey everything that I (Jesus) have commanded you… that’s a lot. It’s also our standard, we do our best to stay true to what Jesus instructs, when we find ourselves drifting away from that standard we stop and return to it. I’ll explain that process in our next blog.
Why RE.THINK Church part 2:
relaxed and unconcerned
Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s life was all about how you looked, the acid washed jeans, guess, huge hair, we could go on and on… look around all that is back!
I remember waking up every Sunday and wanting to wear my jeans and a t-shirt, but no I couldn’t. I had to dress up, put on my Sunday best. The funny thing is I remember doing all this, but not doing my hair. My hair was a mess most Sunday, but at least I wasn’t wearing jeans!
One Sunday, in between our Sunday School and church service, I asked an adult, "if someone can’t afford dressy clothes can they come to church?”
The adults response has shaped me ever since, but not in a good way.
The response I got was essentially like this, “If you can’t afford dressy clothes church is the least of your worries…” the adult caught himself after those words, but the damage was already done. Like toothpaste that has been squeezed out of the tube he couldn’t put the words back in his mouth. There was no recovery for him, his attitude is one that I’ve seen in several churches throughout America. He just happened to voice it.
When I think of a church a place that should be known for grace, mercy, love and kindness. I shudder at the idea that church is known for the thing most people get dressed up in order to encounter Jesus. Pastor Jud Wilhite states in his book, Uncensored Grace, “Sometimes people who have it together externally are a mess internally.” Let’s not fool ourselves here, dressing up doesn’t make you any more godly.
I’d rather have someone show up in what they can afford, what they are comfortable in. As long as bits and pieces are covered and there are no disrespectful writing or graphics, then we’re good.
Having a casual church isn’t all about the dress code though.
We understand that the message of Jesus and living life the way He intends us to live, can be a very difficult thing to live out. We get it, we are still striving to do the same here. Creating a casual church goes beyond the dress code and into the terms of how people mature through their relationship with Christ.
People are in control of the pace at which they want to take their next right step. We’ll explain everything up front as much as possible, but we expect people to take the journey as they see fit. We’re here to journey with you along the way!
Why RE.THINK Church part 1:
1. enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.
One of my first memories of church happened when I was about five years old. The pastor standing on the stage babbled on and on about stuff I had no clue about. Like most five year olds, I got bored... like really bored. My older brother and I sat there talking, fighting, and who knows what; but we were especially loud on that particular day.
The pastor, Pastor Helmet Head, was the name I gave him because of his perfect depiction of a TV Evangelist of the 1980’s… his hair wasn’t moving at all hence “Pastor Helmet Head.”. He looked down from the stage as he stood behind the pulpit and told my brother and I to be quiet. I simply responded back, “Yes, Pastor Helmet Head….” I realized then that kids were expected to act like adults, and most adults just simply endured this version of church. After Pastor Helmet Head, a new guy named Dave became our pastor. Dave was pretty traditional, but fun. He helped me to get a glimpse of what church would look like when there is fun involved.
I think it’s time we started allowing church to be fun. I think it should be age relevant environments so that an adult can encounter Jesus just like a child can encounter Jesus. Kids shouldn’t have to sit through an adult service and never move. There should be dancing, fun, games, and the occasional loud screams of joy from the kids area. All these things should be a sign as to what’s going on as adults break down the complex truths of the Bible into simplistic forms meant for kids. If these things don’t happen I would tend to question what’s really going on!
I think it’s time for RE.THINK Church to make it fun!
We don’t take ourselves too seriously because let’s face it, if God has a sense of humor maybe it’s time for His church to have one too!
WHy a blog?
RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.