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.