Hey all you Friendship People! I thought I’d take a few minutes and talk with you guys directly. Here are 7 things I want you all to know…
- Man, do I miss you guys! It’s half way through our time apart and its killing me. I must confess I secretly get on Facebook just to see pictures of what you’re all up to. I’m so looking forward to seeing you all on August 19th!
- We are having a fantastic time! Our time in the Mediterranean and in Europe was absolutely awesome! I’ve posted a few pictures below that I thought you might all enjoy. I think we can all literally feel the stress falling off. Plus, notice the really good-looking company I keep!
- I’ve been reading through the New Testament, and my passion and love for the church of Jesus Christ is stronger than it has ever been! I know that some of you were a little worried that being gone this long would dim my passion…NOT A CHANCE, it’s burning white-hot!
- Don’t miss REST. The series starting this week with our buddies from City Community is going to be phenomenal. You will not want to miss even one week. And, yes, I know some of you have been “Playing Hooky”, you better be there this week…I know who you are 🙂
- You all knocked it out of the park with Summer Break! I am so amazed with the number of children who came, but even more thankful with the 20+ children who gave their lives to Christ. We told the leaders of Next Level Church, the place we are going to down here, about it and they were just as excited as I was. You guys are amazing!!!
- Don’t miss the Meredith Andrews Concert. Meredith is a great Christian songwriter and singer. We are absolutely blessed that she is going to be there, as she usually plays to crowds of 1,500+ at her concerts. Plus she is a personal friend of Dustin and Sarah, so pack Friendship out for me, standing room only!
- I’ve got the preface and the first chapter of my book written. If enough of you are interested I’ll post the preface on the blog in the next few weeks. I’d love to get your feedback on it.
Okay, 1 freebie…I’m dying to see what the Colts are going to do this year! Anyone else?
Love your guys,
Your Absentee QB, Dave
During our Sabbatical we walked through the ancient ruins of the City of Ephesus. Ephesus is in modern day Turkey and is one of the most extensive archeological sites in the entire world. You might be familiar with Ephesus from the books of Acts and the book that bears the name of the city’s residents, Ephesians. (When I have better bandwidth I’ll post some pictures and some videos of this amazing place.)
As we walked along we were all amazed at the sheer massiveness that once held some 300,000 people. We began our tour at the peak of the mountain/hill on which the city sits. We could look out into the valley and see for hundreds of acres the amazing sights and the many discoveries of a city that was founded almost 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.
Ephesus was one of the most influential cities in the ancient world for two reasons. #1 it housed one of the largest and most extensive libraries second only to the famed library at Alexandria. #2 it was the epicenter and the birth place of the worship of the Goddess Diana or Artemis. Ephesus was, for all intents and purposes, the center of spirituality and knowledge for all of Asia.
The Apostle Paul came to Ephesus somewhat by “accident”, at least by man’s perception. Acts 19 records that he had been teaching many of the coastal cities, and he decided to trek inland. He came to Ephesus and discovered that there were a handful, 12 men, of disciples there. So, he decided to teach them and those who would listen in the local synagogue. But after a few months the leaders of the synagogue became increasingly jealous of Paul, so he left and went to a local, secular philosophy hall (Acts 19:9) where he taught for 2 years. The crowd continued to grow and many, many people came to Christ and a large church began to grow at Ephesus. They in turn invited their friends to come and listen, who invited their friends, and so on. It became such a “phenomenon” that people from all around Asia came to listen. It was so pervasive and influential that both those who were supporters of and the enemies of Christianity and Paul admitted it’s unbelievable influence in the region…
This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10 ESV)
And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. (Acts 19:26 ESV)
The second statement was from a man named Demitrius, I’ll talk about him during another post.
As we were in the midst of our tour our guide stopped and pointed out several etchings of crosses and made this incredible statement, “Ephesus was once THE center of worship of the Goddess Artemis, yet within just a short time after the Apostle Paul came almost the entire city became Christians. The church at Ephesus became one of the largest and most influential churches during the first three centuries.”
Can you imagine that? A city entirely dedicated to the worship of a false god was completely turned upside down for Christ. It influenced all of Asia and the world for Christ!
Isn’t the transforming and penetrating power/love of Christ amazing?! Who else but Christ could take a former persecutor and murderer of the church (Paul) and “accidentally” send him to a city under the dark captivity of idol worship and turn it into the launching pad of Christianity for all of Asia?!
My friend, I don’t care what garbage is holding you bondage, I don’t care what lie you’ve been telling yourself about how you “can’t overcome this”, I don’t care where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done. If the transforming power and love of Christ can do this, he can change you into a person of influence for His name too!
I think one of the coolest things about Friendship Church is that we are constantly trying to take the long-term view of things. Always asking the question, “How will this affect us 5, 10, 15 years from now?” This approach has saved us from making a lot of short-sited decisions that could have had significant, long-term repercussions. It has also enabled us to make hard decisions with short-term pain for long-term health.
This is exactly what we did when evaluating if it was a good thing and good time for my family and I to take a sabbatical. We are certainly not “burned out”, frustrated, or tired of leading Friendship. In fact, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s an absolute joy to be able to watch decisions we made 3-5 years ago become reality and see all these people come to know Christ and so many of you take huge steps in your spiritual growth. In all transparency, this is the last time I would choose to go on sabbatical. I love leading the charge, being the visionary, teaching the Word, and watching lives change…but that is the short-term view of things.
The long-term view says, bigger things are yet to come, greater growth is just around the corner, and what we are experiencing now is just a sliver of the blessing God has for us. If I continue to lead the charge through this time, my batteries may not have enough left to lead an even bigger charge later, and that’s not acceptable. If our vision as a church is to “glorify God as an effective and influential church” then it’s leaders must make sure that they are doing the same with their lives. If staying and enjoying this Summer with my amazing church means that I won’t be as effective as possible when I’m needed most, then I’m being selfish.
I heard John Maxwell once give an incredible illustration, it went something like this. Nature gives us one of the best examples of shared leadership and the importance of down-time. When geese fly across country going South or back North they fly in a “V” formation, as I’m sure you’ve seen. This formation gives the flock incredible aerodynamics and allows them as a group to fly infinitely farther than they could individually. The formation allows for each goose to receive a certain amount of lift from the flapping of the wings of the goose directly in front of them. The lead goose takes the brunt of the wind for the group and his wings provide lift for the entire group, while the rest of the geese “honk” their encouragement to him to keep up the pace. When the goose in the lead becomes tired, another leader rotates to the front. This enables the entire group to continue moving forward while at the same time allowing the lead goose gets the much needed rest for the next length of the journey.
That is why my family and I are going on sabbatical. I want to be ready for the next phase of the journey of Friendship Church. I believe with all my heart that greater things are on their way, that God has more in store for us than any of us can even begin to think or imagine, and I want to be ready! In the short-term it will be painful to be away from you this Summer, but the long-term rewards will far outweigh short-term pain.
“No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who are trained by it.” Heb 12:11
Starting on Sunday, May 20th I will have the incredible opportunity to take a sabbatical. My sabbatical will go throughout the Summer of 2012 with a highlight of being able to walk the streets that the Apostle Paul walked, taught, lived, and died. So, what is the point of a sabbatical?
Rest: A major part of our sabbatical is for rest. The ability to not have to preach every single week, be ready to counsel at a moments notice, or be actively engaged in decision making. If you run an engine at maximum rpm (rotations per minute) for too long you can burn up the engine. The same is true for human beings, especially those who carry the burden of leadership. If you truly love the people you lead you carry their burdens with you, and after a certain period of time if you don’t take an extended time of rest, it begins to take a toll on your continued abitlity to lead effectively. I love Friendship Church way to much to get to the point where my leadership becomes less or even completely ineffective. I have no desire to “burn out”, I want my fire to continue to burn bright over my entire life!
Renew: The second component of our sabbatical is renewal. All throughout our sabbatical I will be reading, writing, and studying. I want my passion for Christ, my joy for ministry, and my love for Friendship to be renewed and stoked to it’s full potential! Although I won’t be physically with you I will be daily praying and asking for God’s incredible blessings to continue to flow, and when I return, with completely full tanks, we’ll be ready to take the future that God has for us!
Reconnect: The final piece of our sabbatical is to reconnect with each other. Just like any family as we grow up we tend to move towards our own loves and joys, which can sometimes cause us to not spend as much time together. Unlike other families the pressure of ministry exaggerates those tensions and makes it more difficult to reconnect. So, we decided that it was essential that none of this sabbatical was done alone, we will do it as a family. Our girls are entering transitional times in their lives and this Summer is perfect timing for us to strengthen our bond and our relationships.
I am so thankful to Friendship Church for allowing me and my family to enjoy such an incredible blessing. This is a gift that I wish everyone could enjoy at some point in their lives, and I am so blessed to be able to experience it!
Religious freedom is never taken away in large fail swoops, it’s taken away crumb by crumb until all you have left are, well, crumbs. When Hitler began his attack on freedoms at the beginning of his totaletarian dictatorship he did not give a grandiose speech telling everyone in Germany that he was taking away their freedoms, no one would have voted for him. Instead, he slowly made a group of people that were already looked upon with suspicion into enemies of the state, the Socialists. Once he had them out of the way, he went to the next group, and the next, and the next, and so on, until he had no opposition left; several million Jews had been slaughtered, along with countless Christians, not to mention the millions of young men who lost their lives because of WWII.
I believe that German pastor Martin Niemoeller, describes the danger best in his reflections during this time:
First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.
I’m not a Catholic, nor do I believe as Catholics do that contraception is wrong, however, I see a very dangerous and destructive pattern beginning to emerge. If you listen carefully you will hear certain groups of people within the US being marginalize, criticized, and even demonized because of their beliefs, whether they are orthodox or not. Now, we see our own government telling us what we can or cannot believe and therefore behave like, that is not okay, that is flat out wrong!
I’m not a Catholic, but I will stand up for their right to not be forced to fund that which is against their beliefs. Primarily because one day it may be us Evangelical Christians who are being told that we must now fund “X” which violates our core beliefs or face fines/imprisonment, and I for one would like others to be there standing with us!
Yes, I know that more than just my people at Friendship Church follow my blog, and this article will be great for you as well. But, it is essential that everyone from Friendship read this article. It is probably one of the best, if not the best written and most practical article on the subject of our guests that I have ever read.
Geoff Surrat planted Seacoast Church and lead it as it grew to one of the most influential and effective churches in the United States. He recently retired and has been visiting several churches anonymously, and has shared some of his insights in this article, along with some solutions.
Take 10 minutes and read through this great article and ask where you can improve!
One of my new favorite guys, both as a speaker, pastor, and blogger, is Perry Noble. A while ago Perry posted 10 Questions that churches tend to answer even though no one is asking. Perry doesn’t suggest that these aren’t important questions, just that no unsaved, lost person is asking them.
A lost person cares about 1 thing and 1 thing only, is what you are offering going to be of value to me. Now, before you get all uppity, stop and think for a second. The term the Bible uses for people who don’t know Christ is, “LOST”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been lost on more than one occasion in my life, one time in the woods (I’ll tell you that story later), and do you know the only question I was asking? “How do I get out of here?!” I want to be the type of church that points lost people in the only direction that will actually help them get, Un-Lost!
Check out his post here: 10 Questions Unchurched People Aren’t Asking