Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

Citizens_SermonSeries GraceChurch

I have lots of thoughts on this week’s sermon, Citizens: Identity. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below:

It’s important to remember the context of this message, that the sermon is primarily for Christians, the body of Christ. Likewise, virtually all of the Bible was written to those who follow God, or at least say they do.

As the pastor (Matt Williams) said:

“We have to train a culture of Christians to think courageously, and look at the Scriptures and apply them to us.”

Therefore, none of what I say here should be taken as “Those people should do this,” or, “What if someone else (not a Christian) wants such-and-such?” Those may be valid points and worthy of discussion. It’s just not the focus here.

What IS the focus? Click here to keep reading…

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Grace Church, Elevate Youth, Me, and You

I’ve been a part of Grace Church for 19 years now. No doubt, 99% of who I am is because of how people in this church have taught, mentored, lead, and served me.

I could say I owe Grace Church a lot, but the truth is that God deserves all credit and glory. Grace Church has been His tool that has shaped me.

But a very important tool. Grace Church . . .

  • is the first church I was a member of (I became a Christian 20 years ago);
  • was where I first started serving with children (I knew nothing about kids, except having been one);
  • was where I met my wife;
  • entrusted with me leading Children’s Ministry for four years;
  • empowered and equipped our family to serve in Allendale, SC for 3.5 years.

As a whole, Grace Church has continued to support and partner with me (and with God’s ministry through me) for nearly two decades.

And it’s still going on.

Read more about Grace Church’s partnership with my new organization, Elevate Youth, on the Grace Pastors Blog.

Then, you can check out these links for more explanation and inspiration:

Envy, Jealousy, and Allendale

House July2014

For the first time since 2010, we are not spending a summer in Allendale, SC.

For the first time since 2010, we are not meeting and fellowshipping with mission trip teams serving in Allendale.

For the first time since 2010, we are not leading summer camps in Allendale.

And we feel like we are missing out.

A team of students and leaders from Grace Church are leaving Allendale tomorrow, to return to Greenville. We are envious that they spent the last 5 days in our “home.”

I’d love for you to read more, on my guest post on the Culturally Engaged blog, titled Jealous for Allendale.

Related Links:

Help Create Beautiful Memories for a Child This Summer

A couple of weekends ago, I spent two nights at a retreat with a few 5th and 6th graders from Grace Church.

And when I say “a few,” I mean about 250 children. Plus leaders. Yikes.

Despite my distaste for retreats (chaos, lack of sleep, noisy, dirty, crowded) I am glad I went, because I got to be with some special people in my life:

  • my son Elijah,
  • my small group of 6th grade boys,
  • a 5th grade girl from our Clubhouse Kids after school program.

The young lady had a great time. On the first night, she told her leader, “This is the best night I’ve had in a long time.” She got to be with friends from school (but whom she doesn’t interact with much outside of school), and make a lot of new friends.

Her positive experience reminded me of the importance of helping students (especially those from under-resourced communities) get to summer camp.

Read how you can do the same…

Engaging Your Business and Your Community

missiontoworship_14Nov Last fall, Grace Church hosted a Mission to Worship event. In case you missed it, I thought it would be beneficial to re-post the videos (and some thoughts) from the two main teaching sessions.

Building Significance in Your Business

First, Brian Gural facilitated a conversation with businessman Mike Pereyo. If you are a Christian business-owner, you will be challenged and encouraged by watching this. And even if you’re not (like myself), you will love the story of this company.  Click here to continue…

Getting Powered for Life!

Last month, we (Elevate Youth and Mill Village Farms) helped to launch a 16-week program for teenagers, called Powered for Life. We advertised and recruited with the aim of enlisting a diverse range of students. With students coming from six different schools, I think we achieved our goal!

The Powered for Life material is a Bible-centered tool to help prepare young adults for a successful life. It focuses on four main ideas, with the acronym L.I.F.E. –>

Learn more by clicking here…

The Adventure of 15 Years

Notes Allendale 10Nov

I posted this picture on Instagram a few weeks ago. These ~60 words were the summation of a meeting with a leader from Grace Church, as we began to explore the idea of moving to Allendale, SC.

A week later, Joanna and I met with other leaders from Grace Church, and on December 14, 2010, we (Joanna and I, plus those same two leader) took our first trip to Allendale. We met with some local community leaders, people who would look after us during our season in Allendale.

Two weeks after that, our family went down again, to let the kids experience it. They loved it, and we are thankful for their great memories of the Allendale community.

And three weeks after that, I started working for the Boys and Girls Club in Allendale.

Yes, it all went quickly for us (so don’t let time be an obstacle for you moving to Allendale). But it amazes me how that adventure began 4 years ago with a brief 30-minute conversation.

That meeting, however, was not the start to our adventure. Click here to learn more…