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Read How do you Respond? Part 1.

On Sunday night at an event with some of our Two Cities Church team, I introduced an idea. The idea that our community in Fresno/Clovis is becoming more and more post-Christian, despite all of the great churches in the area. Despite a high density of faith-based non-profits that benefit the community, people are becoming more and more ok with the idea that we are ok without God. That we have somehow outgrown the need to lean on the “crutch” of God and we’re perfectly ok with the idea of meaninglessness and a completely random life that happens by chance. So we are increasingly more comfortable with the idea that we are born, we live, we die and that is all.

Let’s explore what post-Christian looks like. It looks like Europe. A lot of great history and landmarks. A lot of empty, beautifully built and highly maintained chapels and churches. I spent a summer abroad in the city of Heidelberg, Germany. One of the things I noticed was that you could walk into any church and it was beautiful. The acoustics were amazing. The art-history was awesome.

I stood on a plaque that sits in the middle of a cobble-stone-road in a small courtyard in Heidelberg. It was one of the places Martin Luther (not King Jr… but the accidental father of protestantism) stood to give an oral defense of his 95-Thesis against certain practices of the Catholic Church. Luther meant to reform the Church, but instead he was condemned and forced to create a new kind of church… a church that was accessible to everybody by translating the Bible using the common language of the local people instead of reading it in Latin, which only the highly-educated would understand. And that’s just one of the many things he thought should be done. He was no Saint, he said a great many things that are extremely offensive as well. The history of religion in Europe is rich.

However, juxtapose the rich history of Christianity in Europe with it’s current spiritual state and you’ll see a gap between the two. Largely due to the fact that most of the Christendom in Europe was aristocratic and politically driven. It was not so much about a growing relationship with Jesus as it was a forceful-respect-filled relationship with a priest, who in turn supposedly had the ear of God. In other words, the religion in Europe was a hinderance to society, something that the people felt they no longer needed. The church was marginalized and eventually they became historic landmarks and a great stream income from tourism.

So what?

Are you aware that according to Barna, Fresno/Clovis is ranked number 45 on the Top 96 Post-Christian Cities in America? Yeah, here’s their graphic:
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Ok, so what?

By this graphic and the barna research, we can see that church in the Fresno/Clovis area is beginning to be marginalized as something our community doesn’t see they need. Those of us in the church have referred to our cities as “the Bible-belt of California” but that’s not going to be the case in a few years.

So, how do we avoid being marginalized by our community?

  • “In order to reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” – Craig Groeschel, Pastor of LiveChurch.tv
  • Create Churches that Unchurched People Love to Attend
  • Stop Speaking as if We are the Majority
  • Stop Assuming People Know what is in the Bible
  • Be Relational, not Religious
  • Make a Difference, not a Point
  • Error on the side of Reaching People, not Keeping People
  • Get outside the Christian Bubble
  • Be a Blessing to Our Community
  • …and the list goes on.

 

I posed the following questions in yesterday’s post:
Are we concerned for the direction of our communities?
Do we live our lives proactively to ensure we leave our communities in a great place for the next generation?
Do we care about the challenges our grandkids and great-grandkids will face?

Will you be like King Hezekiah (read yesterday’s post) saying, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime” or will you avoid being marginalized by an increasingly post-Christian, maybe a better phrase would be post-Religious, community by being part of the movement of Two Cities Church and other local churches unchurched people love to attend?

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This past Sunday night we, Two Cities Church, had an event called Your Move. We gathered some of our core together and some new people to talk about a few things on the horizon. Things like Guest Services, our 0-5 year-old environment (Waumba Land) and our new timeline. Just as I began the ending prayer a young couple walked in the doors. They were greeted by Jill Douty, one of our team members, and they sat down at their table. After I ended the event and started talking to people in the crowd, I came over and introduced myself. It turns out that they’re looking for a church, they were driving by and they saw our two big feather signs at the street. They saw cars in the parking lot and stopped in.

You never know who’s going to show up and you never know what their story is, but we’re creating a church that people off the street might walk in, only catch a couple minutes of what we’re doing and say… “I’d like to check this out further.” This couple connected with Jill and said they’d like to come to the Launch Group that the Douty’s lead at their home on Sundays.

Thank you to Thilani for designing the signs.
Thank you Chris for printing them through your business (Revision Printing).
Thank you Chris for setting them up and tearing them down on Sunday.
Thank you Jill for engaging them.
You guys are rock stars.
It’s worth it.

It’s Worth It. Part 1
It’s Worth it. Part 2
It’s Worth it. Part 3
It’s Worth it. Part 4

From the very beginning Two Cities Church sought to partner with two organizations that have unique ways to help us have a successful launch. Both organizations have helped us wade through a lot of legal and leadership details. These organizations are North Point Ministries and Growing Healthy Churches.

We started our formal relationship with GHC in mid January. Here’s a little video about who they are and where they’ve come from.

Who I Learn From

September 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

Leaders need to constantly learn. I’ve often heard it said, “leaders are learners.” I’ve just started a new conference call that I’m really excited about. Through our partnership with North Point Ministries, I get to learn from other guys who are church planting. The best part is, they are further along than I am. I’m the “greenest” planter in the bunch. They challenge me just by telling their story. They inspire me just by telling me their context. Yesterday we told our story in 10 minutes or less each. Next time we meet together we’ll be starting a discussion on the new Andy Stanley book Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Since that’s exactly what we are all doing, it’s very appropriate.

conf call

So who are you learning from and with? It’s important.

After our BIG ANNOUNCEMNT Erica and I have both had some great conversations. From these conversations there have been several reoccurring questions that I can answer:

  • Q: What Church are you going to?
    A: We’re not going to a church, we’re starting a church. When you plant a church, you start from scratch. There is nothing there previously for you to build upon. It’s from the ground up.
  • Q: Do you have a building?
    A: For us to have a building as a church plant would make us “mortgage broke.” We won’t have regular Sunday services until we build up our core group and launch team. That means we need to get people involved in “The 4 Things” before we create Sunday meetings. Those things are Percentage Giving, Strategic Service, Invest & Invite Other People, and Community Groups.
  • Q: When do you move?
    A: Erica is due with our second child, a girl, on May 22nd. She could pop at any moment. We’re waiting to get through the delivery process and get a couple of weeks under our belt before moving our home.
  • Q: How will you be funded?
    A: We  have to raise the funds by finding people who will support the vision of Two Cities Church through one-time and regular giving. No amount is too small and no amount is too huge. There are no government grants (separation of Church and State). There is no parent organization that will give us large sums of cash.
  • Q: What denomination will you be?
    A: We’re not. Instead of being a denomination, we’ll opt into a couple of partnerships. There are two organizations we are currently in conversation with, North Point Ministries and Growing Healthy Churches.
  • Q: How will you make money to live?
    A:  You don’t go into ministry to be rich, but you still need to provide for your family. My job will consist of building Two Cities Church and social media consulting for other churches [check out my free eBook here]. Erica plans to work with MAG as a Virtual Executive Assistant, part-time, and she has another incredible opportunity that we aren’t prepared to release information about just yet.
  • Q: Do you have a place to life?
    A: Yes, someone has graciously offered us a home to live in very cheaply.
  • Q: Why Fresno/Clovis?
    A: Because we love specific people there and God keeps putting it in our hearts to be near and reach them.

You may have questions too. I’d love to talk. Once we move back I’ll be going to coffee with lots of people and sharing the vision for what we’re doing. But for now, let me leave you with this…

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Sometimes on Sunday afternoons at 3pm I sit down on my couch with my laptop hooked into my computer and I watch North Point Online (a broadcast of North Point Community Church‘s Sunday services). Since we at New Vintage Church are Strategic Partners with them I like to watch and see what they’re up to. Not to mention the content is incredible and I am always challenged.

This last Sunday I noticed something and it bothered me. And it is dumb that it bothered me…but I was just wondering if anybody else noticed. It was Andy Stanley’s shirt, specially the buttons. Take a look and let me know if you understand what I’m saying here…Did you watch? Did you notice? Can you explain it for me?