Stories

•February 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It has been awhile. I won’t bore you with my lame excuses.

The other day I was catching up on the blogs I read, and since I was hopelessly behind, I was skimming. But something slowed me down – this quote from a Harvard Business Review blog post:

“If you want to change the culture, you have to change the stories.”

That piqued my interest, because I had always believed that about the school where I worked for fifteen years. Even though I was a leader there, I never really felt like I got the chance to help change the story. And even though I have been hearing RPC’s story all along from Timm, in my new position I have been feeling like I am joining the story mid-stream.

I often worry whether the stories that motivate me will resonate with others. Because I am a history geek, I love the underdog stories that are found in dusty books: the Spartans at Thermopylae, the English defeating the Spanish Armada, the Russians outwitting Napoleon, and of course, thirteen scrappy colonies taking it to one of the most powerful countries in the world.

But lately, I have found inspiration in the stories going on around me – the stories of changed lives. But those stories are rooted in an ancient, but true, story as well – the story of Jesus dying on a cross for us and being resurrected to assure us that God wins. This story is as active and powerful today as it was 2000 years ago. I just pray that I don’t miss what God is doing with that story currently, because I am too wrapped up in the stories of the past.

How about you? What stories motivate you? What story is God telling in your life or the life of someone you know?

It’s the Sunday Rewind

•November 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

It is with a slightly sad heart that I report that RPC came to the end of Vintage today – what an awesome journey!  Six weeks of talking about the things that “never go out of style.”  This is sure to be a classic series that we’ll encourage people to go back and listen to.  In other words, Vintage will become vintage.

The band shook the rafters again!  The vintage song was I Got the Music in Me, and Denise schooled us with her vocals.  Joe took the lead, but almost all the band sang at some point today – someone said that even Bob was singing.

Chris W. hosted and told us all about what God has been up to during Vintage – 13 baptisms from last week, 6 youth making decisions to follow Christ two weeks ago, and the building being put up for sale.  Make sure you attend on December 6th to hear details on the next steps for RPC.  It is going to be epic!

J.J. got the enviable job of wrapping up Vintage and the unenviable job of speaking on Giving.  Here is a tasty morsel of what he had to share:

  • J.J. spoke at RPC when it was still First Baptist Church of Jan Phyl Village.  7 years later, the only thing that is the same is that Timm Collins is still the pastor.
  • What God was leading J.J. & Beth to do in youth ministry in Pinellas County was what God was leading Timm to do with RPC in Polk County.
  • RPC is NOT about CHURCH traditions, but we are about BIBLICAL traditions.
  • The Church has messed up when talking about giving.  That is why people hate it when we do.
  • Jesus spent a lot of time talking about money – more than any other topic.
  • If I truly care about something, I will support it – whatever the cost.
  • God tells us to bring the whole tithe (10%) to him & he will bless us.  He even tells us to test him on this.  Malachi 3:10
  • We turn a corner when we cease to give just because we are commanded and we start to give joyfully.
  • God wants us to be hilarious givers.  2 Corinthians 9:7
  • The widow gave all she had.  It mattered more than what the big givers gave.  Mark 12:41-44
  • When you invest in something, you take personal stock in whether it is successful.
  • There was a point when J.J. stopped saying “they” about RPC and started saying “we.”
  • Are you still saying “what they are doing” at RPC or “what we are doing” at RPC?

Chris W. closed by encouraging people to take RPC’s Tithe Challenge:  If you commit to tithe faithfully for three months and at the end of the three months you don’t feel God has blessed you, then RPC will give you all your money back.

And finally, I spoke with Timm this evening from his vacation spot.  He was jacked about the exciting reports he was getting from RPC.  He wanted me to apologize for his inability to post this week – the place they are staying charges a ridiculous amount to have internet access.  He and Miranda are headed back on Wednesday to help with the Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.  Pray for them to get some much needed rest and safety for their return trip.

Thanksgiving Update

•November 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

RPC – you have done an awesome job responding to the needs of our community!  You brought 290 cans of chicken broth to church – our goal was 250!  We also surpassed our goal of 64 gallon-cans of corn, and we have completely lost count of how many boxes of Kraft mac & cheese you have given.

When we first set out to help several other churches feed people for Thanksgiving, the goal was to feed 13oo people.  Now we are expecting over 2000 people.  Our original goal of 64 gallon cans of corn is now a little short – we could still use at least 10 more gallons.  If you can help with corn or you still have chicken broth or mac & cheese to donate, please bring those food items by the church office on Monday or Tuesday.

In addition, we need more pans of cornbread and more cakes for dessert.  If you can help with any of this, please call Pam (581-5855) for more details on the specific type of cornbread and/or cake that is needed.

The church office will be open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Monday (11/23) and Tuesday (11/24) for food drop-offs.  On Wednesday, the office will only be open from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.  All food items need to be at RPC no later than 11:00 am on Wednesday, November 25th.

If you are volunteering on Thursday, here are directions to the Eloise Resource Center from the church.

Thanks for all your help!  As I heard someone say not too long ago, “Our lives grow bigger when we grow smaller.”

Seats for Guests

•November 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

What an awesome week for RPC – 13 baptisms and an announcement that changes everything!  In case you have been living under a rock and missed it, you can read about it here and see it here.  In the meantime, we are still working to get the best use out of our current location.

If you happened to be at church on Sunday, you probably noticed the new posts and chains that were used to block off the back few rows of the side sections of seating.  Starting this week, the back few rows of the center section will be blocked off as well.  Of course, then the question arises, “Why are you blocking these rows off?”  There are a few reasons for this, but the short answer is that it makes it easier for the host team to seat guests when they come in late, especially after the band is playing and the lights are off.

But to take that explanation a little further, ask yourself this, “When do guests typically arrive for a service?’  They either arrive early to get the lay of the land, or they arrive late for whatever reason.  If they arrive early, it is easy for them to find a seat.  If they arrive late, then it is a little more difficult.  If I were a visitor that arrived late and had to be escorted to the front, or worse, find my own way to the front to find a seat in the dark, I would feel pretty self-conscious.  I would feel much more comfortable if there were seats in the back that I could easily access.  By reserving these rows, the host team’s job of finding seats for guests just got a little easier.

This is only one example of how the host team works to be the front line in “building a church that unchurched people love to attend.”  Helping guests “uncross” their “arms” is the host team’s job, so guests are their target audience.  Just so you know, if you are a regular attender at RPC, the host team has been given permission to ignore you in order to meet the needs of our guests.  So don’t take it personally, if one of them walks away in the middle of your story about the sweet mullet you rocked in high school to go talk to someone you have never seen before.  (This rule only applies to Sunday mornings.  If you are hanging with a host team member any other time and they walk away from your engaging story, then maybe your story is not as engaging as you thought.  Here’s a hint: If your story has a section where you speak Klingon, then people are going to walk away.)

There is a statement that has been floating around RPC lately that is appropriate for this discussion.  “To reach people we’ve never reached, we must do things that we’ve never done.”  RPC – What things are you personally doing that you’ve never done to reach people we’ve never reached?  If you don’t have an answer, then maybe you should figure it out – I’m just sayin.

Oh, and while I’m being preachy, bring lots of cans of chicken broth and more gallon-sized cans of corn to church with you on Sunday.  The total number of people we are going to feed on Thanksgiving is closing in on 2000.

Beginnings . . .

•November 13, 2009 • 5 Comments

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NASB

Even though I grew up in church, I didn’t become a Christ-follower until the age of 27.  It wasn’t really an event; it was a process.  I am grateful for that, because it helped me understand that my whole faith-walk is a process.  The process works great as long as I allow the Entrepreneurial Genius full creative control.  More often than not though, the process gets marred by operator malfunction and ignoring the Manual.  Thank goodness verses like these remind me that He is going to complete what He started.

I have always thought it would be powerful to keep a consistent journal of what God is doing in my life – a way to look back at how He is finishing what He started.  I love to write and think it is a great reflective practice, so I have started such a journal several times.  It is pretty consistent for a few days, but then a few days without any accountability and I start to suck.  Pretty soon it is weeks before I have written anything.

So when someone started coming in my office on a regular basis to ask me when I was going to start blogging, I thought about those lame attempts at a journal.  I didn’t want to fail at blogging too.  But then I realized, blogging is public and with openness comes accountability (yes – I realize that phrase sounds like “with great power comes great responsibility” & yes – I left it in because I thought it was funny).  Fear of looking like a fool is a great motivator for keeping me on track.  Anyway, that guy that keeps wandering into my office must think I have something to share – I am not so sure, but I guess we are going to find out.

Since I am on the subject of beginnings, I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s response to my first opportunity to speak on a Sunday morning.  Thank you for all of your kind words!  But know this, it was God – I can’t teach like that by myself.  I made sure I practiced a lot, got some advice from this guy, got a lot of support and encouragement from my wife, and let God do the rest.  No matter what you took from Sunday morning, please remember that, “God’s passion is you.”