One evening in early March I had a conversation with my wife about what my co-worker was giving up for lent. I’ve never considered giving up anything but my wife challenged me with giving up twitter. I said if I’m going to give up twitter I may as well give up facebook…and the journey began! When I decided to give up these social media worlds I had no clue what I was going to receive in return. During this time I returned to conscious effort in the studying of God’s word. A return to enjoying the hours of fellowshipping with the ladies in my life. A renewed passion and fire…a renewed spirit! I’m thankful for the convictions the Father showed me during this time of solitude. I’m also thankful for the clear vision and direction He showed moving forward in ministry. I’m overly excited about the doors being opened and opportunities He’s given to serve His people. This will be an extensive blog so reader be aware. As I prepare to come off of my social media break I’m going to outline some of the things revealed during my time away as well as the future in ministry for myself and my family.
Things reinforced…HMMM! Honor Master Mission Mate
I. Master. The Most important thing to remember…True devotion and relationship with Him is the key ingredient and must remain most important. I can admit I have a lot on my plate…quite possibly too much. It’s easy to get busy in kingdom business and feel you are doing something for God. It’s always good to remember God doesn’t need us to do something. He can use anybody and anything for Him to receive glory. What he wants from me is relationship! It makes little sense to try to do a thousand things to please Him but fail in my pursuit of an intimate, personal devotion to Him. My time away from social media forced…yes forced me back to the scriptures from a study standpoint. I know it sounds backwards but I can admit I would spend more time reading updates and feeds than “studying” the word. I make sure to spend time reading the word…but understand me when I say the return to “studying” of the word. My excitement for studying God’s word should be there at all times…not just when I have nothing else to do. During this time away I was reminded without the daily devotion to God and his scriptures nothing else works out the way it was intended.
II. Mission. Make Disciples…in all the world. Men At The Cross (MATC). You may have seen me discuss or mention Men At The Cross in the past. MATC is a national men’s discipleship movement hitting cities across the U.S.. The ministry focuses on equipping and challenging men to enter into a one to one discipleship with a man near them and love them to Jesus until that man is ready to love another man to Jesus. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”. That is the heartbeat of MATC…that is the Mission in HMMM…Make Disciples! I’ve been blessed to have done ministry with the group for a few years now and am leading the movement here in Kansas City. We are excited about the fact this conference will be in Kansas City October 22, 2011. This should be one of the missions in the lives of all believers…discipleship. I will discuss later some other ways we plan to build young disciples in our city.
III. Mate. Family First Ministry. I have always felt I’ve done an ok job over the years but time without my wonderful EVO4 in my hand also allowed me to be even more engaged with my family. My mate along with my girls are a very important part of ministry. They have to sacrifice much in order for the Lord to use me in the arenas he has chosen. I’ve always made a conscious effort to never put them on the back burner with all the work, late meetings, travel, and etc. During my break I’ve found myself hanging out more with the fam even if its just watching tv, playing games, and etc. This break has been a gentle reminder that though its important to share the gospel to the world which I have done via social media, the gospel must be lived out first and foremost with my family. This time has allowed me to “date” my wife again like back in the old days…sit around and conversate and not holding a phone in my hand seeing who said what and when.
The Present and Future
I. Church Planting. Those close to me are familiar with the fact years ago I felt God was calling me to plant a church in Kansas City, Kansas…a diverse body of believers not being divided by race, neighborhoods, money, denominations, and etc. In 2004, I was fortunate with a team to plant a church in the Argentine community of Kansas City, Kansas. This was a wonderful experience as we attempted to do many of the things I mentioned above. In 2007, I first felt the Lord was calling me to plant a Church in the central region of KCK. Even though shortly after that the Lord moved my family and I to Fremont, Nebraska. I was a little confused at first about why if the Lord wanted me to plant a church in KCK then how the heck I end up in Nebraska. Well as I mentioned earlier this church He wants me to plant is to be diverse…diverse in race, neighborhoods, money, and etc. Nebraska was a learning opportunity to prepare me for this calling…I will be frank…it’s mainly white people in Nebraska…in the town I was in it was all white people! I learned so much from our time there but the fact was the Lord wanted me in KCK. In 2009 he returned us to the area. During my break from social media the Lord spoke clear the time is soon approaching. On March 20th, I found myself digging into Acts 2 and got stuck on verses 42-47. These scriptures point to the focus of the early church. It shows their desire to be tight knit in fellowship, devoted to prayer, learning from each other, and serving together. While I feel this is the desire of most churches, it is my desire to see this as priority. With all of that said, we are in preparations to launch, “Believer’s Fellowship” in 2012. I couldn’t make this story up if I tried but after receiving this word from the Lord I texted my wife and told her how the Lord just gave me the name of the church along with the scripture that ties. About two weeks later our pastor at the church we fellowship at preached a sermon discussing the “Pristine Church” and his scripture reference was Acts 2:42-47! My wife and I immediately looked at each other and smiled knowing this was a confirmation on what the Lord is doing. This church will be planted in the mid-KCK region…explanation of location coming next!
II. Urban Scholastic Center Mid-KCK? Well, the name is not official but the desire to model is! You more than likely are not familiar with The Urban Scholastic Center (www.theusc.org). This is a ministry that has been in existence since 2004 in Kansas City, Kansas. If you are familiar with KCK this ministry is located at 29th and Minnesota. This ministry exemplifies what serving your community is all about. What this group understands is its much bigger than tangible items and trying to fill kids with only biblical knowledge, but life skills! How can we expect our kids to read a Bible if they can barely read? How can they focus on reading if their stomach is hurting from hunger? What can we do to assist high school kids stay in school and improve their grades? The USC is a leader in working to help solve these problems. The USC, along with Servant Community Church (the church affiliated with USC) strategically placed themselves at their location to serve the community and the kids that attend the schools near by. This is why we are planting our church in mid-KCK…to replicate what they are doing for the community and schools within. I can’t write about all the things they do or you will be reading for days but I want to touch on a few.
A. Literacy. USC sends mentors to Mark Twain Elementary numerous times a week to work with fourth and fifth graders indvidually with improving their reading skills. These mentors spend one hour a week up to two to three days a week in this effort. This helps the teachers greatly who are already dealing with large class sizes and couldn’t possibly sit down with every kid. If kids can read, grades improve, self confidence improves, chances of staying in school improve.
B. After-School Mentoring. USC also picks up kids from Mark Twain via vans to the USC and provides tutoring as well as meals.
C. Beautiful Feet. As we all know to play sports you must be eligible. To be eligible you must have good grades. Some students want to play sports but don’t have the access to equipment or shoes to do such. The USC provides some of these things for the students at Wyandotte High School. If kids are able to participate in these sports statistics show they work harder in school to stay eligible to play. If they are working to stay eligible to play they have a higher chance of not dropping out of school…something so small provides such long term success.
D. Pre-Game Meals/Gospel. The USC also serves pre-game meals to the sports teams prior to home games. After the meal a presentation of the gospel is delivered.
E. Bryant Apartments Neighborhood Outreach. It was this event that showed me why I needed to model what the USC is doing. During the summer they perform an outreach at this apartment complex. One of the early things the USC did was replace basketball goals, barbecue pits, and other activities for the children to be active. The USC goes into this complex during the summer months and do these things. They first start off playing games and activities with the kids. After about 30 minutes of playing they feed the kids barbecue. After the kids eat they also feed the parents who are standing around as bystanders. Once everyone has eaten each volunteer will take 3-5 kids to an open area at the complex and sit down and read with them. The volunteers will read to the kids and the kids to the volunteers. Again, working to increase low literacy rates. These are typically children books talking about things of the Bible so they are being introduced to the gospel at the same time. It was a wonderful sight!
Needless to say…we want to duplicate this and do it in a different area of the city which is why we feel God calling us to the location we are targeting. We will have the opportunity to serve the students of Hazel Grove Elementary, Coronado Middle School, Schlagle High School, and the residents of Crestwood Apartments. Please pray with us as we begin meetings with administrators and officials of these places.
III. And Finally…the last of these new endeavors. My good friend and Pastor of Servant Community Church and founder/executive director of The Urban Scholastic Center Chuck Allen approached me recently about something the Lord laid on his heart. Pastor Chuck is a phenomenal guy the Lord has used greatly and I’ve been blessed to do ministry with him since moving back to KC. He’s asked me to speak at his church on occasions and we’ve built a great relationship. Chuck and I had talked last month in more detail about the church plant and my desire to model what the USC is doing. Since moving back to KC in 09 I’ve been asked by a few pastors to join their staffs or teams in some time of role…all I turned down because I knew God was calling me to plant a church soon. Chuck recently asked me to consider joining him for a season, even if it was only for the summer. He requested that I work with him and co-teach this summer. We would work together on a few sermon series and give him some much needed rest. Though we know its for a season I couldn’t argue with the benefits it would bring both the local body at SCC and myself as we prepare to launch Believer’s Fellowship. Since I have a strong desire to model what they do this gives me a first hand look and gives me a hands on opportunity to do such. This gets me back in a routine of consistent sermon prep since I will preach once or twice a month. In my time I spend traveling and preaching now it generally consists of what I label as a travel message. Since I’m invited to a bunch of different locations I preach this travel message over and over so little sermon prep. And finally I love to partner with any church where their is a sincere desire to reach and serve the community outside of just tangible items a few times a year. There is nothing wrong with that but I desire to build relationships which opens up opportunities to genuinely share the things of Christ.
So…in my time away much has happened. We are greatly excited where the Lord is leading us and our prayer is we are used for His utmost glory. I covet your prayers as we prepare to transition to these new areas and responsibilities. We pray we remain faithful and good stewards to all He lays in our paths. As I return to social media I plan to do it in a more responsible effort. I hope to still have a good time in the Lord…laugh with the fam, talk sports, and etc. However I will still not spend as much time on as before. Though I like using it to communicate the gospel I will pick my times wisely. So going forward…If you have a passion for the urban core, a desire to help kids and see them succeed, a goal to see more kids reading on grade level…and more importantly if you have time…get at me and let’s begin something big!