Recently, some in our core leadership team and I got to go on a “cool church tour.” Three weeks ago we visited Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, New Spring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, and then attended the Drive Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by North Point Church. The following week, we took a great four day class on the ministry and mission of the apostle Paul. This course was skillfully taught by Gordon Ferguson, the Teacher for the LA Church of Christ.                                                          

So, there’s been no shortage of spiritual stimuli from the past few weeks but there has been a shortage of sleep. The trick with these kinds of things is being able to internalize, contextualize, and actualize everything you’re being taught. I know what you’re thinking: good luck with that. You’re probably right, but we’re giving it the old college try. Anyway, it would take a month to download and unpack everything but I thought listing a few takeaways might be helpful. So here goes…

Core Values From Elevation Church

“We are Ruth’s Chris, Not Golden Corral. – Simplicity enables excellence. We place a disproportionate value on creating a worship experience that boldly celebrates Jesus and attracts people far from God.”

“We Need Your Seat. – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.”

“We Eat The Fish And Leave The Bones. -We will always maintain a posture of learning. We seek to learn from everyone and incorporate a variety of influences into our methodology.”

“We Are Known for What We Are For. We will speak vision and life over our people. We will lift up the salvation of Jesus rather than using our platform to condemn.”

Vision Statements from New Spring Church

“Everything about our services, outreach, next steps, teaching and evangelism is driven by change. Moving from death to life, seeing people saved by Jesus Christ, helping believers grow as disciples—the Christian life is marked by change.”

“We believe that growing people change, that we can’t live life alone, that saved people serve people, that we can’t out-give God and that found people find people.”

“New Spring Church has a passion to continue growing, impacting lives and using technology and the arts to reach 100,000 people for Jesus Christ.”

Bottom Lines from the Drive Conference, North Point Church, and Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley

“Confrontation and condemnation create ice (around people’s hearts). Conversation breaks the ice. Conversations create connections.” Gavin Adams

“One of the most common disconnects in church world is the discrepancy between purpose and approach. The approach a church chooses trumps its purpose every time.”

“Because you’re a leader, you won’t agree with me on every point. That’s fine. You can’t help it.”

“Assumptions over time can harden into organizational orthodoxy.” Justin Elam

“Jesus didn’t come to be right. He came to seek and save lost people.”

“The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision.”

Lessons From Paul: His Ministry and Message

Even though Paul dealt with constant crisis, torture, and sorrow, he was a glass half full person. He consistently focused on the good God was doing in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In 1 Corinthians 7 and elsewhere, Paul made clear when what he said was “thus saith the Lord” and when it was his opinion.

Paul had faith that when God said no and closed a door, he was opening up a better one.

Paul’s faith in people and his trust in their intentions and capabilities were impressive. He chose trust over suspicion.

“We want people to be impressed with God, not us.” Gordon Ferguson

Paul made things better or worse wherever he was because he stirred things up and brought them to a head.

The other thousand takeaways are going to have to wait for another time. Have a good one…

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