I woke up with a headache on Thursday and it kind of lingered all day. When I went to bed I wasn’t very optimistic about being able to function at a very high level Friday. When I woke up, though, I felt really good and was thankfully able to pay attention all day long.
The day began with Erwin McManus. Since the first time I read An Unstoppable Force, I’ve really appreciated his leadership in the church and the environment he’s developed at Mosaic. This time, was no exception as he dealt with ideas presented in Wide Awake – mainly the idea that the world needs us to live our most heroic life. Not just to be ‘visionary’ but to be ‘visional’ – awakening God’s visions in others. He advocated being committed to helping people unbury the dreams God has planted within them that have been buried in the rubble of life.
After speaking, with some dance elements added to illustrate, Erwin’s daughter came on stage and sang a song she’d written. A dream within her has been nurtured by her father and allowed to flourish. I was reminded and very convicted that my first job is my family. I need to draw God’s dreams out of their lives. If I fail at that and my kids join the masses of automatons with still-buried dreams – it doesn’t matter what else I accomplish. I know they will make their own choices, but they will do so knowing that God has planted His Kingdom dreams in their lives and wants to see those dreams fleshed out into reality.
Andy Stanley returned to the stage Friday morning to interview Rick Warren. As Warren began his comments with a bit of a disclaimer, you could kind of sense some in the crowd dropping their guard and seeing him and his ministry in a new light. It’s easy to look at Saddleback and Rick Warren, being so big and having so much in the way of resources, that some seem to write them with assumptions about ‘we could never do that here’ or ‘they must be compromising something’. Warren stated that what he does is because he’s “addicted to changed lives” and that what he (and Saddleback) are doing is simply showing people the One who has the power to effect change that matters.
Andy Stanley revealed a great sense of humor (as did Warren) all through this interview. Sharing the stage with perhaps the most recognizable pastor on the planet, he did an awesome job of leaving space for Warren to share his heart while at the same time not just fading into the scenery. There was some really funny back and forth between the two and a great focus on discipleship – moving people from the “come and see” front door to the “come and die” call of Christ to His mission in the world.
I think that I am a “come and die” minister in a “come and see” church. The problem (and maybe it’s part of God’s solution for both me and WestWay) is that it’s not healthy to be one or the other. If we only focus on creating a comfortable nest or exciting show for people to come and check out, without also being clear about just what Jesus expects of His people (everything), then we relegate the church to splashing around in pretty shallow waters. But if we simply issue the call to come and die outside of relational development and equipment for ministry, then we severely limit the likelihood of fruitful ministry.
After lunch, which was again free Chick-Fil-A, Craig Groeschel talked about some myths that are perpetuated in the church: things he’d been “taught and that he thought…” Here are those myths:
-We’re taught that the church should be a safe place.
The church needs to be made dangerous again by faithfulness to a world changing gospel. The gospel is not a safe message. It is dangerous for those who would hold on to the value systems of the world. The church needs to be a healthy environment, but we’re not just inviting people to come and be nice and get a ‘better life’ – we’re calling them to enlist in God’s redemptive mission.
-We’re taught to build a church.
It is more important to build the kingdom, and we need to stop focusing on our own little empires/outposts and see the bigger picture of what God is doing to build His Kingdom. We need to partner with other congregations not compete.
-We’re taught that success is all about big numbers.
Big crowd does not equal successful/effective ministry. Success is when people are finding their identity in Christ. It is what he called reaching “Line 3”. Line 1 is, “I believe the gospel enough to benefit from it.” Line 2 is, “I believe enough to contribute what is comfortable.” Line 3 is, “I believe the gospel enough to give my life to it.
Sidenote: Craig Groeschel has some serious biceps. I think Jimmy wet himself just a little when Groeschel opened the gun show!
Francis Chan was the next speaker and there is no mistaking: Francis loves Jesus! With a passion that cannot be manufactured, Chan directed our attention to our very reason for breathing and the only one with Life to give us. Some great questions that came up as he spoke:
-Whose name comes up more often in the conversations of the church – ours or His?
-Are there more fair-weather church fans or fans of Jesus who will be where He is NO MATTER WHAT?
-Are we waiting for the Holy Spirit (and His power) or are we just doing church in our own power?
-Are we stoppable?
-Are we praying for AND known for boldness?
-If you start with Scripture, would you come up with the church in its present forms?
The final session was Perry Noble, whom Rodd, in the peanut gallery line of the week, likened to Mark Driscoll‘s redneck cousin. Don’t know how either of them would feel about the comparison, but we thought it was pretty funny… please don’t put us in a choke-hold! It’s late, and this session was just plain awesome, so I will set this to post early tomorrow and I’ll talk about Perry later tomorrow.