Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back in the Saddle-Sabbatical Over

Well, today i am officially back in the saddle. It has been an amazing journey this month, and I look forward to sharing what God has taught us over the weeks and months to come.

This week, I am "easing" back in to the seat as we get ready to crank it for our December run at New Community. I am going to be meeting with each of our staff members one on one to catch up and also prep for this Sunday's message. Our staff has laid out an awesome Christmas Series and I am pumped to kick it off this weekend.

God has great things instore for you, for us and for Jackson County. I look forward to seeing you this weekend. The holidays are always a great time to re-engage and invite friends to experience what God is doing at New Community.

See you soon and have a great week!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Identity-week three of sabbatical

Yes, it has been a number of days since I wrote a blog. I felt the overwhelming need to just be quiet for a while. Why, you ask? It all started toward the end of my 1st week at the grill.

One of the things you have heard me teach from the stage at New Community is that when we are believers...our Identity is in Christ...not what we do, not our career, not what we produce. That we truly live and thrive, when our Identity is in Christ...when we are secure in that ID and when we live in it. This is something that i have learned and understood through the process of planting New Community and through discipleship counseling with Healing Grace Ministries.

By Thursday or Friday of week one at the Grill, the Holy Spirit asked me a question...no i didn't hear an audible voice...just a deep pressing deep within. The question went something like this, "Chris, is your Identity in me, Jesus; or do you find your identity in leading New Community?" POW, right there in the middle my shift, this question rocked my world.

Why would this question come to me then, and why not while i was sitting drinking some coffee while reading the bible or something?

Just before this hit me, I found myself yearning for something. I found myself anxious about something. It was on the heels of these thoughts and feelings when the Holy Spirit pressed in on me.

Jeff, the owner/operator of the Collegiate Grill, has been gracious enough to just introduce me to his regular customers as his friend...not his pastor...just his friend. However, by the end of the first week, the thing that was overwhelming my thoughts and emotions, what consumed all of me was the desire to tell people WHO I WAS. I didn't want to tell them i was a regular guy that was married to Dawn and we had 4 kids with one on the way...NO...what was shouting inside of me...what i wanted to tell everyone was that I was a PASTOR, that i led the second largest church in Jackson County, that i had entire staff...that i was somebody important and someone of worth and that i was only here for a month...then i would be back to what "I DO".

It was right on the heels of this...when God in His graciousness checked me in my spirit. I realized after several days of processing this emotion, that this idea of my identity being in Christ was head knowledge that I knew well...but not HEART knowledge. This truth that the Scriptures reveal about our Identity in Christ had made it to my head...it just hadn't settled in to my heart.

Praise God that this came in this moment. Thank God that He loves me enough to Shepherd me as a loving Father. Glory to God that He is allowing me to see this now, not 10 years from now.

This is why I have been quiet. This is why i haven't written anything. I have needed this truth to take root into the deepest part of me.

I love each of you dearly. I am so thankful that New Community is in a position that I could take this time away. I am convinced that our best days are ahead, and that over the next few years we are all going to look back and stand in AWE of what God has done through the ministry of New Community Church.

My name is Chris. I am a follower of Jesus. I love Dawn and we have four amazing children and one on the way (April 16 cant get here fast enough). I help lead the coolest church in the world...what a sweet life God has granted me.

Grace and Peace my friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Detoxing-week 2 of Sabbatical

So, many of you have noticed that i have lost a few pounds. You have either seen me or you have seen my status update each time i hit a goal. Since July, i have been implementing a weight management system that has allowed me to loose weight slowly and effectively. One of the the things that have have taken last month, was a "Detox" pill. It, in so many words, strips out everything unnatural in my physical body, metals, chemicals, toxins. Even though my weight loss has slowed down, I feel so much better. Physical health is a wonderful thing that i have been taking for granted far too long...

...this has been the case for my spiritual journey as well...taking it for granted and not paying attention to what is actually going on within me. This sabbatical is a DETOX for me spiritually.

I am heading in to week 2 and usually after being gone for a week of vacation, i know that Monday comes and i get to go back to what i do. Lead New Community.

It is Monday, and I am not. I am sitting in a coffee shop in Gainesville continuing my Detox from New Community. And what a Detox it is. This analogy is a good one, and can can be compared to someone coming off of drugs. I know...crazy talk.

After being gone for a week, and knowing that i will not be back until December 1, I have realized that for the last 4 years, NC has been the drug of choice for me. She has consumed me, my thoughts, my love, my passion...my life. Coming off this drug is HARD. It is difficult, but I know that it is God's perfect timing for me, my family and HIS CHURCH. God needs me step back and realign with what his scriptures teach. God, Family, Work.

It is a difficult thing to process when you realize that what I teach from the stage is not what I have modeled and lived in my life. Thank God for GRACE and for the Holy Spirit reminding me of my DEEP NEED for IT.

Week 2 will be interesting. In 40 minutes i will be slinging burgers at the Grill while standing by my friend Jeff Worley. Jeff led a church for 8 years, never took a break, never detoxed. I believe with all of who I am that God allowed his family to land a NC so that I could hear his story and take heed. May I never take my role in my family and my church for granted ever again.

Praise God for his patience, grace and mercy...detoxing hard...but the alternative is worse.

I love you my friends. More to come on Pride later this week.

Grace and Peace...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Unleashing the Fury

I walked in to the Collegiate Grill today ready to roll like yesterday, fast paced but nothing too scary. When I stepped back to the grill, this is what was in front of me:

This is the order that is waiting before the store even openned (20 call ins before 11 am). When it rains in Gainesville, apparently everyone calls their orders in and has them delivered. Not to mention, 2 jury pools from the courthouse showed up along with hundreds of others. I didn't think it was possible to double the amout of food we prepared yesterday, but today we cranked out twice as much as we did yesterday. It was INSANE.

After the lunch crowd emptied at 2 pm, it was time for us to eat. Jeff let me step up to the grill and cook my own burger (because the place was empty). I thought Five Guys was good, but when one you sink your teeth in to one of these...you realized there is no comparison. A made to order Bacon Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions, ketchup and mustard. mmmm good.

I ate and then headed home to hang with the kids.

Tomorrow, after i drop the kids off at school, I am going to hit a coffee shop before going to the grill to begin reading through the proverbs and the book of John. I am expecting God to teach me some new things and give me fresh insight to his Word.

Day three of my sabbatical was good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day one @ Collegiate Grill

So, today i got to jump in to "dressing" burgers and dogs at the USA Today's best burger joint in GA. From 11am-2pm, i was trained and turned loose to put all the fixins on made-to-order burgers and hot dogs...and let me tell you, we didnt slow down at all. It was FULL on.

Jeff and Donna Worley, the owner/operators of the Collegiate Grill in downtown Gainseville, have created an amazing environment that not only has good food, but is a fun place to work.

As Jeff was giving me the rundown, he let me know that when he started this business it would be built on three pillars. Consistency, Quality and Experience. Their attention to detail and customer service is unreal, and I stood in awe of how his entire team works together as a fluid machine accomplishing their vision for having the best burgers and dogs around...everyone doing their part to create an amazing experience for every customer that walked through the doors. It was natural, fluid, intentional and smooth.

Tomorrow, it will be more of the same from 11am-2pm.

Monday, November 1, 2010

If you missed church on Sunday

So, if you missed church this past Sunday, you missed me letting everyone know that I will be taking a one month Sabbatical (extended time off for renewal). This was a difficult decision but the timing could not be better for me and for my family. This is also not unsual for the leader to take an extended break to rest and re-charge.

The Why behind the What?
  • It has been an amazing 3.5 year run here at NC and we have seen God start a church with 11 families in February 2007 and now over 700 people call New Community their church home.
  • During the past 3.5 years, we have run wide open and we are at the point where we need to step back to rest, refuel and realign. Quite frankly, i'm exhausted and as a family we need to re-establish some healthy rhythms as a family as we prepare for baby #5.
  • We are strong as a Church so now is a good time to take an extended break. Our Staff and Leadership Teams will not only carry NC forward, but i expect God to show up in big ways as his scriptures promise and we will see spiritual, relational, numerical and financial growth throughout November.
  • The next 3-5 year run at NC is going to be exciting and intense, so before we roll that out in January, my family and I need to get re-charged and ready for God to do amazing things.

Starting today, I will be unavailable (i know, crazy). My email will be forwarded to my administrator and I will not be returning voicemail unless it is of a personal matter. If you have an emergency, Stephen our staff pastor, is available to you along with our staff. The month of November will be an exciting month for New Community so I encourage each of you to show up and see what God is up with with our Christmas Offering and with our Thanksgiving Series: Grattitude.

I will be back in the office on December 1st and back on the stage teaching on December 5th to launch our Christmas Series. Until then, you can follow me on Facebook as I update everyone on how things are going and what I am learning.

I love each of you dearly and I look forward to seeing you in one month.

Grace and Peace...

Chris and Dawn.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


So, Stephen kicked off our James teaching series on May 2nd. It was a great start to a series that invites all of us to align the way we live, with our faith. He taught on James 1:5-7 and basically zeroed in on asking God for wisdom and how if we do that, God will give it to us. Everyone in the room was invited to pray for God's perspective for two weeks in regard to someone in our life.

Today, two weeks later, i am beginning this process. This morning was my first moring to pray specifically for wisdom around several things. I am excited about what God is going to share with me and i look forward to his perspective.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Every Effort-Knowledge

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, KNOWLEDGE.

Knowledge: acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation

So, how do we add knowledge to our faith? Making every effort to add knowledge to our faith does require us to bend our normal rhythm of the day to attain knowledge of God. I would love knowledge to just transfer by osmosis but unfortunately, that is not how it works. Here are the things that i do on a weekly basis to add knowledge and i would invite you to join me in these things.

1. Read the bible. If you dont know where to start, read a chapter out of Proverbs and a chapter out of John beginning with chapter 1.
2. Podcast biblical based teachers: My ipod has these teachers: Frances Chan, Rob Bell, Andy Stanley. I am also about to start listening to Matt Chandler.
3. Memorize scritpure: one verse a week.

These are good places to start when it comes to adding Knowledge to our Faith. As we make this effort, know that God will honor your effort as you depend on him to give you knowledge through these sources.

Have a great day...see you soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Making Every Effort

Hello Everyone...what a day at New Community yesterday. We wrapped up "the Exchange" teaching series and as promised, I wanted to give some more insight to our teaching text each day this week.

If you are just now joining in, our series has been about how we can exchange death for life through Jesus and also experience the "full" life he says is possible even though we live in a broken world.

Yesterday we jumped in to 2 Peter 1:3-9, spending time understanding how verses 5-7 shake out in our life.

2 Peter 1:3-9
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Add to your faith...goodness. Yesterday we discussed how goodness basically means moral excellence, in other words doing the right thing. The New American Commentary by Thomas R. Schreiner says this about adding Goodness and this verse:
"Believers are to "add too" or supply with (epichoregesate) their faith "goodness" (arete). In Greek culture a benefactor (choregos) funished what was necessary for choruses. Those who did such were known as generous and lavish benefactors. The word (arete), probably translated "moral excellence," was used in 1:3 to designate by what God has called believers. God's call, we argued, is effective. He creates the moral excellence he demands. Hence, it follows that the moral excellence of believers can only be attributed to God's grace. And yet New Testament writters never polarize divine sovereignty and human responsibilty. Those whom God has effectively called to virtue are also to practice virtue with energy and intensity."

We see here that God, who calls us and saves us, is the one who suppliess the goodness. At the end of the day, our role is to simply bend our effort toward letting this goodness reign in our life. Taking the time to acknowledge that it comes from God and giving him permission to unleash this in our lives.

We all know when we are in a situation or circumstance where temptation to live outside of God's will and way's is pressing in on us. In that moment, with every bit of energy you have, yeild to the power of God within you and allow him to allow goodness to come rushing forth.

Adding goodness to our faith, will allow us to experience life the way God intends.

Let's make every effort today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prayer Devotion Day 4

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Version)
16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The last couple of days, we have been specifically talking about intentionaly focused prayer or conversation with God. I hope that you have been connecting with God this week.

The above verse weaves a new concept in to our prayer life. Be joyful always and pray continually. Now does this mean that we neglect everthing in our life so that we can be in constant meditative prayer? No. This verse is more about awareness and intentionality. Here is what i mean.

I work for New Community. It is what God has called me to do, we believe he is doing a great thing through this local church. However, just as you go to work, i go to work as well. I serve NC, but also work on NC to make her better.

On my desk are files. Files that have to do with what makes NC unique and helps the church carry out the vision. Everyday, i work out of these files and everyday I am diligent in working hard. Here's the dilema, in my "work" it is very possible to not pray or think about God. I know, crazy talk coming from a pastor. But when i am thinking through leadership development, systems or financial processes, it is possible to not think about God because i am in a file.

Where are you going with this Chris? Be joyful, pray continually.

I literally open up a file and say God, be with me today as i work. thanks for this job. Speak to me as i am diligent in working hard. This happens multiple times a day with each thing i do.

So, whether or not i spend 20-30 minutes in focused prayer with God each day, i am weaving this "pray continually" into my workday so that i am intentionally staying connected to God.

Be joyfull, pray continually.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer Devotion Day 3

Wednesday is always a hard day for me. Monday's are follow up day's for everyone who attended NC on Sunday and Tuesdays are our team meeting days where we get stuff accomplished as a staff. So, Wednesday gets here and my temptation is to just get cracking on work, and not take time to connect with God.

It's hard for me to focus some quiet time to talk with God. My mind is racing with all the things i need to do because my work week will be over in 48 hours from now. Even if i wanted to be quiet and pray to God, it will be difficult to focus.

Anyone been there?

Here is my solution for this obsticle. I journal my prayer.

I have a journal, it sits on my desk. And when I can not focus my mind to pray, i have found that if i write my prayer down...my mind doesn't wander.

Maybe today or tomorrow, you can read Matthew 6:9-13 a couple of times and then rewrite it in your own words. Literally, get a pen and paper and write down how you would pray it in your own unique way. This accomplishes two things.

1. You are reading the scriptures.
2. You are focusing your prayer through the discipline of writting it down.

This helps me when i feel like i have too much to do. And when i am finished, i am always thankful that i took the time to engage with my heavenly Father.

Here's the scripture: read it, write it in your own words.
Matthew 6:9-13 (New International Version)
9"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.[

grace and peace...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prayer Devotion Day Two

You are not alone.

Yesterday 46 people joined you in coming to this blog and began being intentional about talking to God. Very cool. We are in this together, and you are not alone.

As we continue to think through this praying thing, Ioften have moments when I don't "feel" God or think he isn't around. This weekend we touched on the fact that not only is God around us as Christ-followers, he is in us through his holy spirit. My emotions may say one thing, but what is true is that God and I are completely connected.

But what about the times that I try to pray and i've got nothing (no words to say)? Have you ever been there?

Check these passages of scripture out:
Romans 8:26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

This verse is basically saying that in the times that we dont have words to say, because God is good and he knows us completely, the holy spirit speaks on our behalf. It says he actually "intercedes" or prays for us. Is that not awesome?

As you are begining to pray, there may be times where you will have nothing to say. Many times we may feel guilty or ashamed because of this...but God is OK with those moments and has provided a way for us to connect with him through his spirit.

What if that is where i am at? Check this out.
Psalm 46:10"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

This verse not only gives me permission to just be still, i believe in the moments i dont have words to pray, that if i just be still and get quiet, God will do his part and the holy spirit in that moment will pray on my behalf.

Many times, prayer isnt about the words...it is about quiet, it is about surrender, it is about yeilding to God. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

May you spend some time today embracing this truth as you spend a few moments just being still before God.

grace and peace my friends...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Prayer Devotion One

And so, yesterday we learned about prayer as we continued our series: Everday, allowing Jesus to lead our lives. If you havent had a chance to listen to the message from yesterday, you can find it under the resource tab on our website: www.newcommunityonline.com.

We looked at Matthew 6:5-13 yesterday

5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]'

Jesus first pushes back on those who were praying for the wrong reasons, and then he taught his listerners how to pray. This is commonly known as "the Lord's prayer". We learned together that Jesus wasnt giving this as a formula, but really a starting place for those who were awkward and uncomfortable to pray. Once we finished the teaching of the passage, i read a paraphrase of that prayer, or a more modern interpretation. We have already had a ton of people ask for it. So, for our prayer devo today, i am giving this to you so that it may be your beginning place as you are intentional about talking to God through prayer.

Here it is:
God/Jesus you are so great
This cant be the way you want things to be
help me spread your love around here
Please watch out for me today
Forgive me for taking you for granted
Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me
There are so many distractions going on in my life
keep me focused
Keep me pure, keep me safe, help me to live
my life like you want me to.
Thanks God, AMEN.

May this be your prayer today. More to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

on the verge

so, new community is on the verge of becoming a church of multiple services. crazy. this sunday, we will test drive our new two service plan so that we can work out all the kinks and make sure our plan worked the way we envisioned it.

what's so amazing is that we have had 70 families committ to moving to the early, 9:15 am service. UNREAL. These families are making room for more people in our later service that first time guests will most likely check out.

I feel the same way that I did, the week before we launched NC in 2007. excited anticipation for what God is going to do...about what is ahead...about lives that are going to be changed with the big and safe love of Christ.

and we are rolling out a teaching series that will push hard on the status quo. "religion poisons everything". This series is going to set us up to make significant strides forward as a faith community and as the individuals that make up our faith community.

so, pray for God to move. pray for God to bless. pray for God to reveal. pray for God to draw those who need a safe place to connect.

bring it.

new website: www.newcommunityonline.com