Who Gets the Blame?

broken-stone

Prior to coming to Knoxville a year ago, I spent two years as a Campus Pastor at a second campus of my church. It was a great experience, God opened all of our eyes to new ways of doing church, and I built some lifelong friends, but we didn’t see a lot of growth or people coming to Christ. It was a time of enormous sowing, but very little reaping.

In some ways, things did not go the way we hoped and dreamed. It caused me to question my ability to lead and my capacity in ministry, and I began to work through my insecurities to rediscover that my personal worth has nothing to do with my performance. Through Christ, I have worth. I don’t have to spend my life trying to prove myself.

Now, a year later, I’ve found myself in the totally opposite situation. Things are going well. We’ve launched a new website, an Internet Campus, and done a bunch of other cool projects this year. The list of accomplishments is impressive, and people’s lives are being impacted each week through new initiatives.

Now that things are different, who gets the credit?

God, please protect me from my pride. Show me how to give you the credit and glory – for it all belongs to you.

Tagged : / / /

Five Years Ago

IMG_0089

Five years ago, I did an interesting thing. I sent myself a time-delayed email, and I received it just last week. Here’s a short excerpt:

As I write this you stand on the verge of something awesome that is happening at Southcliff. You’ve started training leaders on how to do cell groups, and tonight you have a strategy meeting with them to figure out how you’re going to multiply your first group. This Fall, Southcliff is also going to do a program called 40 Days of Community. This is an exciting time at Southcliff, and it is your first year of ministry as Associate Pastor.

Right now, I’m a bit scared about what will happen with all of this stuff, but I’m trusting God to do something beyond my wildest dreams.

Kind of hard to believe that was only five years ago. I sensed that God was up to something, but it’s amazing to look back at how things progressed:

  • Experimenting with small group ministry and learning more about websites
  • Planning and eventually launching a satellite campus of Southcliff and serving as their Campus Pastor
  • Serving with great people and working hard together to reach out to the community
  • Grieving through the process of seeing the campus close after two years
  • Understanding that God was moving me into a new phase of ministry
  • Moving from Texas to Tennessee to join with Faith Promise

Every one of these steps was challenging in one form or another, but it’s neat to see look back and see how God has been at work.  “Beyond my wildest dreams” is a pretty accurate description.

Tagged : / /

Dead Battery Sunday – Guest Post by Jordan DeWald

Dead Battery Sunday

Those of you who were in attendance this past Sunday know that the morning was anything but normal, and Jordan DeWald, our keyboardist and the wife of our Worship Leader, posted this great post on her blog about the morning.

This is another “I love my church” post…

A little background information on the church I am a part of: we are a regional campus of a church which simply means that we are a part of that church but meet in a different location. We have a live worship team but the sermon is from the pastor of the main campus and it is a video. We are a young group and have been meeting for about a year and a half at a school. Meeting at a school means that we must set up a church every Sunday morning. All of it- chairs, sound system, nursery and children’s rooms, etc. A group of faithful guys meets early every Sunday morning to set it all up and then pretty much the whole congregation helps to take it all down after the service. It has been done that way for each Sunday for the last year and a half. Everything we have is transported to the school in a large box truck.

So begins Sunday’s adventure…
My husband is the worship pastor of the campus. As we were on our way to church early Sunday morning, he gets a call from the campus pastor saying that the truck’s batteries are completely dead. This was at the time the truck should have arrived at the school so that the setup could begin and all would be ready for a proper sound check and in plenty of time for everything to be worked out. The truck not starting means that everything we need to set up for a service will possibly be stuck in a storage spot 30 minutes from the school.

Of course there are back up plans. First, the main campus got to work in finding us new batteries. That didn’t work though so they continued to jump the dead batteries, bringing in a larger vehicle to jump it. So, we gathered the main campus’ portable sound system and headed out to the school while the campus pastor began to prepare a sermon in record time. We were still hoping that the batteries would charge but were planning for alternatives, just in case.

This could have been very stressful but that was not the atmosphere we arrived to when we reached the main campus. There was a group that had already been there for almost an hour, waiting to set up. But there was no grumbling, no complaining, just a group of people ready to do whatever needed to be done. We set up what was there and the praise team warmed up with just the guitar. My husband and the campus pastor spoke and decided if they did not get word in the next 10 minutes that the truck was started then they would go to plan B. This meant that they would use a very basic sound setup with a portable system, my husband and his guitar and with the pastor preaching his recently penned sermon. As for the kids, well, God bless the teachers! Soon after that though, they got a phone call that the truck had started and they were making the drive that would still take about 30 minutes.

At 10:25 the truck pulled into the parking lot. Our service begins at 11:00! What happened when the truck arrived was pretty incredible. Everyone who was there immediately went into action unloading and setting up. People who have never helped set up were pulling carts, setting up the children’s rooms, unloading cables and doing whatever needed to be done. One gentleman, who normally vacuums, had already been on his hands and knees to clean the carpet so that we wouldn’t have to wait for the rooms to be vacuumed. I never heard someone say “would you please help us.” There wasn’t a need because everyone participated willingly. It was down to the wire but at 11:00, we were ready to begin! It was unbelievable.

But then again, it was not unbelievable if you know our congregation. I told my husband as we were driving out to the church, not knowing what would happen, that in this kind of event I was so glad to be a part of our congregation because I knew whatever happened would be fine. We have such a great group who are always willing to sacrifice. As everyone was rushing around setting up, the children’s ministry coordinator and I agreed that we were watching the Church in action, as they are supposed to be. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of a church where the congregation has such amazing attitudes. As we were waiting to see what happened with the truck I prayed that in whatever happened God would be glorified in it. I have no doubt that he was. Only he could have allowed us to set up in 30 minutes and for the truck to start when it did. Only he could give a group of people the kind of attitudes that would be so willing to serve and work and do whatever it takes, all with cheerfulness. I believe that the attitude of the group brought him honor and the service was one of worship.

What a great morning!

Thanks, Jordan, for taking the time to write about the morning. You can view Jordan’s blog by going here.

Bragging on this Congregation

bragging.jpg 

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Phil 1:3-6 (NIV)

Today I realized that I haven’t blogged much about how I feel about our West Campus, so I thought I’d take a moment to share my perspective on how things are going at Southcliff West. 

First of all, I’m appreciative of the love and genuine sense of belonging that is happening in this congregation.  This is truly a community of people who are sharing their lives with one another, who encourage one another, who lift up one another, and who welcome and are considerate of our guests. 

Second, I’m thrilled to have the terrific staff that we have on our West Campus.  Brock and Rolanda are both people who seek after the Lord, and I’ve been so impressed with these two.  They’re a joy to work with, and I have a deep love and respect for them.   

Third, although we’re still a small congregation, I sense that God is working in a powerful way in many of our lives.  As I have conversations with people at Southcliff West, there are several things that seem to resonate – a desire for a deeper walk with Jesus, a growing commitment to spiritual disciplines, and a hope that God will use each of us to grow His kingdom, however He sees fit.  

Fourth, I’m totally pumped about the opportunity we have to bring Upward Soccer to Aledo next year.  I have to admit that when Dr. Marr first cast a vision for sports ministry on the West Campus, I was a bit of a skeptic.  I just couldn’t see how we could have both 1) a solid sports league and 2) a ministry that is faithful to the gospel and Christ’s call to discipleship.  I figured that we’d end up being lopsided in one direction or the other.  But the more I’ve learned about Upward and the further we get along in developing this league, the more convinced I become that this is exactly what we need to be doing right now.  I’m proud of the people who gather as Southcliff West each Sunday morning.  They’re a hard-working, caring, and kind group of people.  I love that we get to grow in Christ together, and it’s a great privilege to be able to serve as a shepherd of this congregation. 

While I want to enjoy each day as it comes, I can hardly wait to see what God will do in the months and years ahead.  May it all be for the “praise of his glorious grace.” (Eph 1:6 – NIV)

 

Baptisms on the West Campus

Few events are as inspiring as baptisms.  The symbolic demonstration of new life and obedience through baptism never ceases to bring joy to my heart.

Our first Baptism Celebration on our West Campus was an amazing time of celebrating new life in Christ.  Fortunately, we managed to get the event on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2zY3N-Mgj4

Tagged :

Christmas Decorations

christmas_decor 

I wanted to publicly thank Corinne Breshears for her wonderful decorating talent. If you haven’t already heard, she’s the mastermind behind our beautiful Christmas decorations. She had a shoestring budget for the materials, but like always, she pulled it together. Thanks, Corinne!

Thank you also to each of you that make it a habit to show up early or stay late each week to help set up and take down everything. You guys are great!

Final thanks go to our cell group leaders and hosts. You guys are in the trenches each week! Thank you for your faithful ministry!

Tagged :

Why the Blog?

why.jpg 

Each week I find myself engaged in interesting conversations. Sometimes they make me laugh, and other times they make me reflect on life. I love these conversations, and I often think, “I wish more people could be a part of this discussion.”

That’s why I’m starting this blog. I want to open up some discussions into a realm where people can contribute the conversation. Some of us will ask questions, and some of us will provide responses, while others will silently participate. Whichever category you find yourself in, I hope that you’ll find this blog to be a place where we learn and find ourselves drawn nearer to Christ and the eternal hope of His grace.

So, as we begin, I want to set a few ground rules. The views stated in this blog do not necessarily reflect Southcliff West, Southcliff Baptist Church, or even the views of our staff. No rude or divisive posts will be allowed, and the moderator (Kyle) reserves the right to delete comments which are not deemed appropriate. If you’ve got a topic or a question you’d like to see posted here, please send me an e-mail, and I’ll consider it.

Tagged :

How are Things?

We are continuing to experience a great time of worship and ministry on the West Campus. People are getting plugged into small groups and ministry opportunities, and we’re having a blast!

This past Sunday we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together for the first time.