Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Church Plant: The Road I Am On

One of the outgrowths of being involved in a new church being "grown up" is to being able to pass some of that on to others - since most followers of Christ will never be involved in such a thing in their lives. It also gives an insight into the vision that founds a church, motivates it, keeps it directed, and through which the church will live or die. It is like following someone's life from conception, through pregnancy, and on into their lives as they move toward a mature life of their own.

The pastors at Westport Church have completed the third of four sermons in a series titled Roadmap 2006 as they look back the "Landmarks" [MP3] on the road the church has passed - which will give us strength for the future; the "Compass" [MP3], or values, that will keep us on course; our personal spiritual "Gauges" [MP3] which tell us whether we are burning the right fuel for the journey, and whether our tank is full and how to keep it full; and finally the vision for the next year's "Journey" (this is next week - no link yet). This is an interesting series to listen to for any number of reasons.

Obviously, I cannot talk about the fourth sermon. I also am not going to spend any time on the first although God's provision in this process is amazing. I am going to focus on the Compass that guides us and the Gauges that allow us to do our personal spiritual checkups. These areas have interest for all followers of Christ.

The Compass
Paul Fleming, August 13, 2006

Westport Church has several core values that define us. These are the concepts that we wish to be distinguished by:

  1. Treasuring Jesus: We are a people who desire to make much of Jesus, and through Him, to glorify God the Father. We will emphasize the person of Jesus as our only true and lasting treasure, which motivates us for service.
    • Fill in the blank: I know I am treasuring Jesus because ____________________
    • Question: What evidences show that Jesus is your prize?

  2. Theological Emphasis: Theological foundation is essential for transformation. Theology will be emphasized through the passionate and creative communication of the Bible. Transformative Bible study will be modeled publicly, creating a passion for studying it personally.
    • Question: What is one significant thing you have learned about God in the last six months?

  3. Transformational Community: We are a people of authentic spiritual transformation – demonstrating love, purity, humility, hospitality, generosity and servant leadership. We value gatherings for worship, fellowship, learning and serving together.
    • Question: Who are you investing your life in right now?

  4. Team Leadership: We value leaders who value each other. All leadership roles are designed to function within the framework of a team. This includes our teaching pastors, elders, ministry leaders and members.
    • Question: What team are you currently serving on?

  5. Creative Ministry: We value the diversity and creativity that God has given each of us. Within the context of our passion, resources and gifts, we will explore and act upon opportunities to creatively do ministry together.
    • Question: How are you expressing your God given gifts in ministry right now?

  6. Community Service: As transformed people, we have been given a spiritual desire to serve the body of Christ, as well as our community at large. We value building bridges to our community through acts of service - acts without strings attached.
    • Question: Who are you serving and how?
    • For a current community service opportunity on Saturday, August 26th in Hillsboro, Oregon go here
    • To come serve with Westport that day go here
My answers, as my pastors know (you cannot hide in a small church) are pretty convicting. My wife and I have talked about the need for us to "defecate or get off the recepticle" when it comes to Westport; and these questions will help us get our focus back. How are you with these questions in your spiritual life and/or church?

The Gauges
Jeff Bell, August 20, 2006

The fuel which fills our tank is the first core value: treasuring Jesus. Life does not allow our fuel level to stay static - it is either running down or filling up. There are warning lights in different areas of out life that help us know when our tank is getting empty; and there are ways to re-fill - all, of course, centered around treasuring Jesus. The four gauges Jeff Bell examined:

  1. Worship
    • Warning signs: lack of awe and wonder about who God is; depleted joy; worry
    • Filling the tank: Write our your prayers/journal; once a week get away, take a walk, and go sit somewhere and take in nature for awhile.

  2. Community
    • Warning signs: isolationism; lack of meaningful conversation with those close to you
    • Filling the tank: involve yourself in small groups; invite someone from your church that you do not know over for dinner and get to know them.

  3. Growth (spiritual)
    • Warning signs: decreasing sensitivity to your own sin; no times when you "step out on faith"
    • Filling the tank: Form habits - quiet time, prayer, bible/spiritual reading; find a growth/accountability partner to meet with (not your spouse).

  4. Impact
    • Warning signs: you have more concern for your lawn (job, golf, etc) than your neighbor; no one is asking you questions about your faith (if you were arrested for being a christian would it surprise the people around you)
    • Filling the tank: create a strategy for serving others; make a list of two people you wish to impact (pray for, serve, etc.)
Two tasks if you wish to accept them:
  • Look at yourself: what really fuels you (fires you up, excites you, energizes you)? Is that really the fuel God wants you to run on? Is it the fuel you want to run on?
  • What two things do you want to start doing to keep your tank full?
Take care.

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly