Standing Out in the Crowd

Tired of my promotional screen shots getting lost in the crowd of pre-service announcements, I decided to create some creative and thought-provoking stand outs to promote Small Groups at SeaCoast Grace Church. The result has been very positive. In fact, I’ve received many more comments and inquiries from these slides, which are rotated from week to week, than I ever did from any previous announcement slides.

In marketing, less is usually more! Therefore, we need to clear the clutter and make the message matter. That’s what I’ve tried to do with these pieces. What do you think? What’s your personal favorite?


Serving Along the Journey

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be part of our speaking team during the services at SeaCoast Grace Church. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been on The Journey to Easter, talking about how to prepare our heart and mind for resurrection by discussing the purposes of Lent. This weekend we concluded our series, by talking about acts of service. As a pastoral team, we each unpacked amazing stories from those at SCG who have picked up the towel to serve the needs of those around us.

I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, sit down and be inspired by the faith of God’s people who saw a need, took a risk, assessed their gifts, resourced a need and told the Story.

How to Invite Your Friends to Easter

Easter is the biggest day on the church calendar! It’s the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, the defeat of death, the victory over sin and the grave, and the promise of new life for people everywhere. And, studies show that people are more likely to go to church on Easter than any other day because it’s such a big deal. So to encourage our people to invite a friend to one of our Easter services at SeaCoast Grace Church last year, we made a fun and entertaining video, How To Invite Your Friends to Easter, which we played in our services a few weekends before Easter.

What was originally designed to be a fun motivating piece to help our people move beyond their fears and to use our printed invitations to invite a friend, became a popular link on Facebook, which was used to invite their friends to one of our Easter celebrations. What happened was beyond what we expected. The video literally went viral and to date has over 6,000 hits!

I don’t know what our video and drama teams have cooked up for this Easter, but I hope it’s as fun and as well received as last years edition…


Huts of Refuge

In Nantucket, Massachusetts there’s a museum devoted to a volunteer organization, formed centuries ago called the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. Back then Nantucket was the center of the whaling industry and in those days travel by sea was extremely dangerous. Given that storms in the Atlantic quickly come and go, and given the treacherous coastline of Massachusetts, where many lives would be lost within a mile of the shore, a group of volunteers decided to go into the lifesaving business. It wasn’t their job — they had other jobs – but, as volunteers, they banded together to create The Massachusetts Humane Society. They built these little huts along the shoreline and they called them Huts Of Refuge. In fact, there are still a few of these huts in existence today.

These volunteers watched the seas, watched the water; all the time looking for people in distress, looking for ships to go down. Looking for somebody; anybody that needed to be rescued. Whenever a ship went down, word went out. Signal flares were lit, and everyone would do everything that they could to save the ship, and those aboard. They didn’t do it for money, they didn’t do it for recognition.  They did it because they realized that there is something precious and valuable about life, about human life. To remind them what was at stake, they adopted a motto: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come in.” Now that’s a recruiting slogan, right? Now, that would not motivate me, yet that was the Humane Society’s motto!

However, over time something interesting began to happen. The US Coast Guard began to take over the task of lifesaving. For a period the US Coast Guard and the Lifesaving Society would work side by side. But, eventually the volunteers began to think “well they’re the professionals, let them do it,” so they kind of gave up the lifesaving business. And, over time volunteers stopped manning their little huts; they stopped searching the coastline for sinking ships; they stopped sending teams to rescue drowning people.

But it is interesting. They couldn’t bring themselves to disband, so the Lifesaving Society still exists today. They meet every once in a while in Boston, and have dinners and sometimes hand out awards for those that did community service. They enjoy each other’s company, and have great fellowship together. They just are not in the lifesaving business anymore. They meet, they sponsor programs, they get together, but they don’t have the thrill of risking their lives to save some else.

It happens all the time, it doesn’t happen in a day, or a month, or a year – but over time a church forgets that it’s in the life saving business. And it usually doesn’t disband, at least not right away. People still meet, they still enjoy each others company, they have good fellowship, they enjoy dinners together, they have services and programs. They may even be involved in some community activities together. But, they don’t send out people as teams anymore for going out and saving lives. Nobody’s watching. Nobody’s out scouring the neighborhoods. They forget that Jesus put his efforts into rescuing or lifesaving. They have buildings, budgets, staffs and meetings. They are just not in the lifesaving business anymore.  It can happen to a church, it can happen to a small group, it can happen to a person. Whether or not we stay in the lifesaving business depends upon us. It depends upon the church of Jesus Christ!

Jesus was in the lifesaving business. He desired to not only build a community, but to reach a community. He shared this desire very clearly in the Upper Room discourse, when he said, “by this all men will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another, so that the world may know Him who sent me” (John 17:23). The church is in the lifesaving business. We are a hut of refuge, and the goal of the church is to have little huts small groups all over their communities. Huts of people who do life together, who share what they have in common – by serving one another, by speaking truth to one another, by comforting one another, by encouraging one another, by praying for one another – so that the world might believe. God designed us for community. He called us to community, and he has  commissioned us to reach a community.

A Purpose Driven Life

In looking at the ministry of Christ, Jesus’ objective was always clear. As Robert Coleman writes in his book Master Plan of Evangelism, “[Jesus’] life was ordered by his objective. Everything he did and said was part of the whole pattern. It had significance because it contributed to the ultimate purpose of his life in redeeming the world for God [Luke 19:10; Matthew 20:28]. This was the motivating vision governing Jesus’ behavior. Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of His goal. Jesus seized every opportunity for decisive action, but never lost sight of his ultimate objective to redeem a person to himself (Luke 2:49). Jesus knew and understood what his overall objective was, and ultimately conceived a plan that would not fail, by calling twelve men to himself who would in turn lead the multitudes and usher in a Kingdom. Yes Jesus could have been all things to all men, but instead he choose to invest himself in a few who in turn could win the masses and ultimately reach the world.

Jesus gives us the perfect example of living a purpose driven life! Not only did he knew what his mission was, but he fulfilled it for the glory of God. Two thousand years later, God’s mission is still the same. And believe it or not, he wants to use you and me to fulfill it.

Time to Pick Up the Towel

If you know me well, you have probably heard me teach on a Scripture or two from John 13-17. There is a reason for that, the Upper Room Discourse happens to be one of my most favorite sections in the Bible. I have often wondered what it must have been like to be part of this original small group and to share those final hours of Jesus’ life with him and his close friends.

On the eve of Jesus’ arrest, Jesus invites his disciples to share the Passover meal to show them “the full extent of his love.” Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, comforts his friends with the promise of his presence through the Holy Spirit, and prays for them and for those who would come to know him because of their witness. It is a beautiful illustration of Jesus’ humility and love for his friends.

I am challenged by the example Jesus set for us in the Upper Room. Instead of focusing on what was to come, Jesus gave of himself. Instead of asking for comfort, Jesus comforted his friends. What a wonderful example of being others-focused. This service reflects the character of Jesus, for he did not “come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

There are many ways we can serve others. Perhaps it’s time to pick up the towel and wash some feet!

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