Something to Celebrate

Hey Connection!

We REALLY need to celebrate the fact that we were able to baptize 38 people this past Sunday!! That still gets me pumped up thinking about it! The best part is that those 38 individuals made a decision to follow Christ and decided to shout it from the rooftop by being baptized. Remember every number represents a person with a soul that matters to God! I never want us to be enamored by numbers rather than Jesus and what He is doing in our midst. Here are some things we need to remember as we grow as a church:

1. Jesus loves the lost. Read Luke 15 and it’s easy to see the heart of God for those who are separated from Him.

2. We can’t change anyone’s heart. People’s hearts change when the Spirit of God takes them from death to life and are given a new heart.

3. As we grow closer to Jesus we’ll be more desperate for others to know Him. Numbers can excite us and even make us more passionate, but a desire for others to know Christ is only sustained through our own relationship with Jesus. The truth is that you cannot love Jesus more and love others less.

4. God wants the church to grow more than we do. God’s desire is that people would come to know Him, grow up in Him, and glorify Him. We don’t have to force it. We just have to be obedient. Obedience happens when we listen to God and do what He says.

5. We have our own identity. God has given us a specific vision that is not to be compromised. I think of it as in terms of a railway. We must realize that God is putting down the “tracks” we are running on in order to reach His destination for us. In church leadership it is tempting to jump on the tracks someone else is running or has already run because it is easier and many times faster. The problem is that you end up in their destination, not your own. We MUST stay true to the vision God has given us.

I truly believe our best days as a church are ahead of us. There is so much more that God wants to do in us and through us!

Heart and Soul!

P.S. – You DO NOT want to miss this Sunday!

When and Why Should I Be Baptized?

Hey Church!

With the baptisms coming up this Sunday I wanted to repost this blog about baptism. If you are unsure of whether or not you should be baptized I hope this will be helpful.

Here are three thoughts about when and why you should be baptized.

1.  Because Jesus said soJesus was very clear in Matthew 28:19,20 that WHEN (that’s important) we become a Christian our next step is baptism. In his first sermon, the Apostle Peter told those listening, “Repent (turn from sin and turn to Jesus) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) These are pretty clear commands that once we come to belief and trust in Jesus as our savior our next step is baptism! Question…have you been baptized AS A BELIEVER in Jesus Christ.

2. As YOUR decisionBaptism comes after YOU make a choice to follow Christ. This is your decision not the decision of your parents or in order to attain church membership. It is your statement that your life has been set apart and wholly devoted to Jesus. It is saying that Jesus has taken MY sins away (the cleansing water) and that I have risen from death to life (going under the water and coming back up) with Christ. Baptism is a physical representation of a spiritual reality that doesn’t take place until you have been converted (saved) through faith. Question…have you been baptized as a public profession of YOUR decision to follow Jesus?

3. As a response to what God has done…Baptism DOES NOT cause our conversion or make us “saved”. The waters don’t save you, Jesus does! If you are baptized without faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior you are just a wet sinner bound for Hell. (OK…that was kinda harsh but it was the only way I could think to say it!) There is no saving power in the water itself. The power of salvation is found in faith in what Jesus did on the cross as He took our sin and God’s judgment on himself so that we can be forgiven! (Ephesians 2:8,9) We cannot save ourselves! When we think of the overwhelming grace of God that He has poured into our lives, the question really changes from “Why should I be baptized?” to “Why wouldn’t I be baptized?!” Question…have you been baptized as a result of your FAITH in what Jesus has done on the cross?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no” and you are a follower of Christ then your next step IS baptism. Click here to Sign-up!

It’s going to be a great day!  Heart and Soul!

Some Things We Need To Celebrate

Hey Connection!

Today I wanted to give you 4 things that we REALLY need to be celebrating.

1. There were 5 more Connect Group Sign-ups this week. I get so excited when I see people doing life together. I know from God’s Word and from my own life experience that real life change happens when we do life together.

2. 10 people signed up to be Connectors (That’s what we call our volunteers). I want to tell you again that if you are a follower of Christ YOU are gifted and empowered to change the world for the glory of God. Don’t waste your gift!

3. We are going to baptize people next week (February 24th)! I LOVE it when we do baptisms and we get to celebrate people who are publicly professing faith in Christ. The baptisms (along with a bunch of food) will be at Splash in the Boro immediately after the service. If you are a believer in Christ and have not been baptized as a believer in Christ your next step IS baptism. Sign up by shooting us an email at info@connection-church.com.

4. We had 1 salvation this week. I saved this one until last because I want to emphasize that 1 person went from death to life this week. I think our tendency is to get caught up in how large the number is rather than how large in significance a life altered for eternity is! Let it sink in for a minute…someone’s eternity was altered. Eternity is a long time! We need to CELEBRATE that. The Bible says that Heaven throws a party when one person turns to God! We should too! WOOHOO! I Love It!

Let’s rejoice in all that God is doing! DO NOT let preoccupation with the future rob you of rejoicing in what God is doing today!

I love you guys! I love our church!

Heart and Soul!

4 Things We Need To Celebrate!

Hey Connection!

Here are some things we really need to celebrate!

1. We had 8 more people make a decision to accept Christ as their Savior this week. It’s amazing to see the first part of our mission statement, Connecting Unbelievers to God, taking place almost every week. Seeing people go from death to life will NEVER get old!

2. We also had 12 Connect Group sign-ups (adding to the 102 we already had this year). This helps fulfill the second part of our mission statement, Connecting Believers to Each Other.  Life change happens in small groups and we know that we can’t do life alone! If you aren’t in a group we’d love to help you get connected.

3. I absolutely love our Konnection Kids ministry. We had 64 kids in our 1st – 5th grade ministry this Sunday. That’s the most we’ve ever had on a normal Sunday. (I don’t know how many Sundays we are actually normal! I mean a Sunday that isn’t a special occasion.)

4. Finally, we were able to worship with over 1000 people for the first time in the history of our church! There were actually 1003 people total. There were 885 adults and 118 kids. We had our first Sunday service on February 1st, 2009. Four years later we are able to celebrate 1003 people worshipping Jesus and most importantly 8 salvations! I am so thankful to be a part of what God is doing and I TRULY believe the best is yet to come!

Get there early this week! It’s going to be a great day!!

Heart and Soul

Possibly The Greatest Challenge To American Christianity?

I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t begin attending regularly until later in high school when I started going with Susan, my girlfriend, who is now my wife. I think I shared a viewpoint about church and Christianity that is still shared by the majority of people in our culture, especially people in the Southeastern United States. Do these things describe your idea of what church and Christianity are all about?

  1. It’s about not doing bad things.
  2. If I do more good things than bad things, God will be pleased.
  3. It’s about appearance. “All good people go to church.”
  4. The point of Christianity is to make me feel guilty.
  5. The point of church is to make me feel better, or less guilty.

There are other misconceptions about church and Christianity, but I believe this list points to the #1 issue we battle in the church and the #1 trap we fall into. We believe Jesus is after our behavior rather than our hearts.

Before you start firing emails at me, let me be clear. I’m not saying our behavior shouldn’t change. Christians should live lives that are different from those who don’t know Christ. When we obey God, He is pleased. There should be evidence, or fruit that indicates God is working in us through His Spirit.

The problem is not what should be produced. The problem is how we go about producing it. John 15:5 is clear that our relationship with Jesus is the means by which the character of God(or fruit) is produced in our lives. How arrogant is it to think that we can consistently produce the character of God without the presence of God?

While the Apostle John clearly points us to the means by which we see the character of God produced in our lives, the Apostle Paul, on the other hand, clearly points to what doesn’t produce fruit in our lives. Check out Colossians 2:20-23.  Paul is correcting the Colossians because they have begun to move from their relationship with Jesus to religious activity. He tells us that our activity apart from God’s presence is ultimately fruitless, because religion without relationship is powerless to change our lives.

The greatest tragedy is that in forsaking the means, or relationship with Christ, we forsake the one thing that brings life! We completely miss the point. Jesus didn’t come in pursuit of our behavior. He came in pursuit of our hearts. The promise of God is that when we surrender to Him, He will give us a new heart, and His character will be worked out of us, not into us.

My encouragement to you is to do a heart check and see if you need to refocus. Are you focused more on something to do or someone to know? Are you trying to prune bad fruit or letting Jesus deal with the root issue, which is our heart? Will you pursue Him and not just religious activity? Will you ask Him to open your eyes to see Him more clearly and help you escape this frustrating trap? Will you open your Bible and ask God, not for information or even transformation, but for revelation? It is in the revelation of Jesus that our hearts and ultimately our lives are changed.

If you’re struggling with this issue, and we all do at some point, email us at help@connection-church.com. We’d love to help you escape this trap!

Heart and Soul!

6 Things We Need To Celebrate!

Hey Connection!

I told you last week I don’t want to waste another opportunity to celebrate all that God is doing in our church. Here are six things that we REALLY need to celebrate this week!

1. This week we again saw people go from death to life by accepting Christ as their Savior and Lord. It was wild as we started going through our prayer request and tear-offs and seeing how people were responding to the Gospel. So much fun being a part of what God is doing right now. I truly believe that our best days are in front of us!

2. This past Sunday we had a record attendance of 985. A lot of people wouldn’t celebrate that and would say, “It’s not about the numbers.” I have to disagree because every number represents ONE person, who has a soul and will spend eternity somewhere! It’s not about the numbers until that ONE person is your mom, dad, brother, sister, etc. Then the number matters! Remember, the seats don’t just fill themselves. Who are you inviting this Sunday?

3. I am so excited about our Wednesday after school Konnection Kids ministry. Last Wednesday my oldest son, Dake, told me not only what the message was from that day but remembered and explained the message was from the previous Wednesday! When a 10-year old can remember the message like that someone is doing a good job communicating it! Hmmm…maybe they should preach on Sunday! :-)

4. Over the last 2 weeks we’ve averaged over 50 youth at 212 on Wednesday nights. I love to hear the messages that our Youth Pastor, Jon Irvan, is teaching our teenagers. I CAN NOT wait to see how they impact their schools for the Kingdom of God!

5. We are already having people signing up for the baptisms on February 24th. We will be doing the baptisms at Splash in the Boro immediately after the service. It is going an awesome day of celebration as we watch people publicly profess their faith in Jesus!

6. Ok this one is a little different. I want us to celebrate what we celebrate! It’s so cool to see the things you guys celebrate at church, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I love how you celebrate when people make a decision to accept Christ, things going on in your Connect Groups, people who are taking their Next Steps…the list could go on and on. I want to celebrate that because it shows me that we, as a group of people pursuing Jesus together, know what matters!

For the rest of this week let’s GATA! (Get After Them Aggressively…that’s our church version!) Who are you investing in? Who are you inviting Sunday? How are you serving others to show the glory of Christ? Who are you encouraging in their walk with Jesus?

Invest…Invite…Serve…Encourage! Let’s Go!

Heart and Soul!

My Only Regret

Over the last four years we have seen God do incredible things. We’ve seen over 400 salvations and baptisms combined, countless stories of people’s lives changing, 100’s of people connecting through Connect Groups (small groups), and 1,000’s of hours put into missions in our community and around the world. As far as Connection Church and the impact God has made through us, there seems to be little to regret. However, I do have one.

With all of the great things God has done, I haven’t enjoyed it! Let me explain what I mean. It’s not that I’ve been miserable. I just haven’t stopped to celebrate what God is doing in the moment, because I’m always looking to the future. When we baptized 54 people on October 9th, 2011, I celebrated that for about an hour, and then was looking to see what was coming next. I have flown past so many Sundays that we saw people go from death to life through faith in Christ without even pausing to appreciate the fact that a miracle just took place! I have been guilty of constantly looking to the “next” thing that God had for us, without rejoicing in the thing He was doing at that moment.

It makes me think of my children at Christmas when they open a gift and don’t even stop to take it out of the box before they want to open another one. That really ticks me off because I feel like they aren’t grateful. I realize that must be how God feels with the way I’ve treated the miracles He’s done among us. Thank God that He is patient!

My vow is to not waste another day, another moment, another miracle, or another opportunity to celebrate God’s work among us. Church, let’s rejoice in all that God is doing! Let’s join the celebration that takes place in Heaven when people go from death to life. Let’s not take it for granted! We, as Christians, have more to celebrate than anyone else on the planet! I WILL NOT take that lightly and will celebrate with you all that God does in and through our lives. IT’S GOING TO BE A GREAT PARTY!

Heart and Soul!

5 Things We Need To Celebrate!

Hey Connection!

Acts 2:11 says that people from different nations heard the disciples “declaring the wonders of God”. As a church, I never want us to stop declaring His wonder and all of the great things He is doing in us and around us. Here are some things we really need to celebrate:

1. This past Sunday we saw 5people go from death to life as they came to faith in Jesus as their Savior. We’ve seen 9 total for 2013. These are people we talk to and confirm their decision. It’s not just hands that were raised but truly decisions that were made. We can’t take for granted the miracles of salvation that God is doing in our midst.

2. Since January 13th we’ve had 99 people sign up to be in a Connect Group! We know incredible, life change happens when we get people in small groups that are focused on connecting with Jesus and loving each other. If you are interested in joining a Connect Group (Our small groups) click here. We’d love to get you signed up!

3. Through the first 3 Sundays of 2013 we’ve averaged 127 kids! We are already looking for other rooms to use for Konnection Kids. What a great problem to have!

4. This week we started planning our next baptisms. They are going to be on February 24th at Splash in the Boro immediately following the service. We are going to have food so don’t worry about lunch. I can’t wait to see who God leads to take their next step through baptism.

5. Finally, this Sunday we will be dedicating 15 babies in a special baby dedication service that afternoon. It’s going to be awesome to celebrate the lives of these little ones, as well as to accept the responsibility, as parents and the church, of raising them to know the Lord and training them to follow Him.

God is doing so much around us! Let’s not take it for granted. Let’s keep asking Him to move in people’s hearts in a way that only He can. I truly believe in my heart that our best days are ahead, and that God has extraordinary things for us to accomplish together!

Heart and Soul

M&M…&M’s

One of the things I was taught in school is that in order to have a strong organization the “3 M’s” must be in alignment. The M’s stand for Message, Medium, and Market. This necessary alignment was compared to someone’s spine. When the spine is in alignment there is strength. The 3 M’s came back to mind today and I thought it would be helpful to look at our church and see how we are doing. I also thought it would be helpful if I shared my findings with you to help us all stay in alignment. So here goes…

1. The Message – I believe there is only one message, The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I also believe we have to guard this message and not allow it to be watered down, added to, or complicated. The message is simple yet powerful: Jesus was crucified to pay for our sins and raised from the dead to give us life. It is indeed foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

2. The Medium – The medium is how you get your message out. It has to get the message to the market, or people you are trying to connect with. Our mediums are predominately Sunday morning, our website (www.connection-church.com), Facebook, Twitter, and Connect Groups. With the exception of the Fifty Shades of Gray series, we’ve never really done a lot of advertising. I believe that if God is moving, people will hear about it. If He isn’t moving, why would we want anyone to be there! I guess you could say our advertisement are the people that attend our church.

3. The Market – This is an area that I believe has never really been addressed within our church. It’s one of the main areas that we have done things completely backwards and not “by the book”. I believe the world is our market! I don’t believe we are called to reach old people, young people, middle aged people, or people in their early thirties with 2.5 kids. I believe, and in fact I know, we are called to preach to all and reach as many as we can. The amazing thing about the Gospel (The Message – #1) is that it speaks to all people and it speaks to them exactly where they are.

The 3 M’s…Message, Medium, and Market. What’s interesting is that in four years this hasn’t changed a whole lot. It’s pretty simple and we have to fight to keep it that way!

Connection, I’d like to hear from you. How do you think we are doing communicating the message to our given market using the mediums we have?

Heart and Soul

Some Things We Need To Celebrate

Hey Connection!

Here are a few things I want to celebrate with you:

1. Last year we saw 106 salvations and 76 baptisms. That really excites me as I look forward to this next year! Speaking of this next year…

2. This past Sunday we saw the first 3 people of the new year make a commitment to Christ! Please put me in a box and stick me in the ground if I ever get tired of seeing people stand up as they are surrendering to Jesus. I can’t wait to see all that God is going to do in 2103.

3. We fed almost 1300 people a turkey dinner (Or chicken, ham, or spam! Who knows what we were serving by the end!) and gave away almost 500 Christmas presents to those who would have gone without during our Christmas Service Day. It was great to be able to partner with SouthBridge Community Church to share food, presents, and the gospel with our community!

4. Through your generosity we have raised over $100,000 toward our One&One project! Watching God bless people through our giving is going to be incredible. By the way, we had a church from South Carolina, Newspring Church, give $10,000 toward the project! I am so grateful for their generosity and encouragement!

5. Our Connect Groups are getting started back up next week. We know biblically and from our own experience that we can not do life alone. If you aren’t currently in a Connect Group…GET IN ONE! This Sunday after the service we will have a meet and greet where you’ll have the opportunity to meet our amazing Connect Group leaders and sign-up to join one!

6. Our Foundations class is kicking off again on February 3rd at 9:00 at SHS. If you are a new Christian, want to learn more about our church and what we believe, or just want to shore up the foundation of your faith then you will want to sign up for this class. You can sign up at the meet and greet, one of our Next Steps tables on Sunday, or at our website at Connection-church.com/foundations .

There’s a lot to be excited about. I am truly loving what Jesus is doing in my life and the life of this church!

I can’t wait to see you all on Sunday.

Heart and Soul!

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