Five Challenges for 2015/2016

Sunday was an important day for our church. Once a year I speak to the vision of our church (both NRHBC and Cross Church). It is a day I set aside to challenge our church around five areas of future growth moving forward in the remainder of this year and much of next.

Below is a quick recap of the five challenges. I have also included video portion where I speak to our church. If you care for our church, please join me in praying and rally together toward these five challenges.

1. Increase the Number of Bible Study (SMBS) Groups. We currently offer 36 adult SMBS groups at NRHBC and 5 small groups at Cross Church. In the next four years, we want to offer 45 groups at NRHBC. Sunday Morning Bible Studies is the lifeblood of our church. This is where we care for people and it is where we study God’s Word in depth. I cannot underestimate the importance of these groups to the life of our church. They are critical and God does so much good through this one aspect of ministry. In fact, if you are not in one of these groups, you are missing out on an area of growth and relationships.

To get to our goal, we need competent godly people to step up and start new groups. It takes real work to call, teach, and care for adults. However, leading also brings a great deal of joy. Seeing others grow in Christ and “get it” spiritually is extremely powerful. Pray that God allows us to move to our desired number.

2. Send 30% of of NRHBC and Cross Church on a Mission Trip by 2018. During a short term mission trip, we mobilize Bible-believing people for a short period of time, from a matter of days to a few weeks. The impact of how God works through these important times is incalculable. When you go on a short-term trip, you grow exponentially, but you also impact the people where you are ministering. Whether you are clearing debris after a disaster or sharing Bibles in a major metropolis around the globe, short-term missions puts you in touch with career missionaries and causes your hearts to beat with the love and compassion of God Himself (Romans 10:1).

To get to our goal, we need 450 people to step up on a mission trip in the next three years. We have trips planned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, Vancouver, British Columbia, and SE Asia. More trips are planned continually and you simply need to reach out to our missions pastor for more information on how you can be involved.

3. Join together for a Week of Prayer on November 8-15 and for 24 Hours of Fasting on November 14-15. In a recent New York Times article entitled “Googling for God,” we witness some of what happens behind closed doors when Americans are alone with their computers.

“It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far. Despite the rising popularity of Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, Google searches for churches are 15 percent lower in the first half of this decade than they were during the last half of the previous one. Searches questioning God’s existence are up. Many behaviors that he supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent… The top Google search including the word “God” is “God of War,” a video game, with more than 700,000 searches per year. The No. 1 search that includes “how to” and “Walmart” is “how to steal from Walmart,” beating all questions related to coupons, price-matching or applying for a job.”

Many of us feel the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation slipping away. The commitment to Christ and His church has slowly eroded. Apathy for spiritual things has moved to antagonism for people, for the Bible, and those who believe. Turning this around is beyond any one person and any one congregation. We need God to move in and change the tide. We need to recognize our inadequacy and plead with God to change our churches, our lives, and our nations. We need a spiritual awakening.

We are setting aside one week to ask God to bless our missionaries and to advance the gospel around the world, November 8-15. And we are calling for a church-wide 24 fast beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. through Sunday at 7 p.m. Your fasting should be a sacrifice on your part and it can include food, drink, social media, television, or video games. This 24 hours is set aside to plead with God to impact our church and our nation.

4. Finish Paying for the Land for the Future Home of Cross Church. Our church purchased approximately 27 acres in 2013 in order to begin Cross Church, our church’s second campus. God has blessed our work in a remarkable way over the past 18 months as our second campus has meet in a nearby school. Yet, our longterm goal is to secure the land as a future home and erect a building. We need a permanent home for many reasons but here is one of our biggest needs: a permanent home allows us to meet together anytime of the week rather than only Sunday mornings. A permanent home allows us to better serve North Fort Worth as community center hub.

To complete the purchase of the land, we have set aside Sunday, November 15 as a Big Offering Day. Our one day goal is $325,000. Join me in praying and giving sacrificially on this day.

5. Commit to Share the Gospel on Thursday, October 15. Let’s join with hundreds of churches across the United States in prayerfully committing to intentionally engage in a gospel conversation on this Thursday. Take time to share your commitment with friends and ask them to join. You may want to use gospel presentations such as 3 Circles or The Story. Begin praying right now for someone that needs to hear about God’s love through the cross of Christ. Again, I am calling on everyone of us to share our faith on this one day.

Thank you for taking time to read this and watch this video. Please consider sharing these five challenges with a friend, co-worker, or family member as a way to stir them to great faithfulness in Christ.

Related Post: For the Five Convictions that Direct our Church, go here.

For the full video of Sunday’s Vision Recast Sermon, go here.

5 Convictions for NRHBC/Cross Church


For our church to surge forward and flourish in the early 21st Century, we need to identify the bedrock beliefs that are at our church’s core. The command to believe is central to the Bible’s message. God has called us to be a people who are shaped by deep convictional beliefs that hold their grip on us. So here are five nonnegotiable truths both Cross Church and NRHBC is built around.

1. Our Church Exists for God. We believe worship matters and we must grow stronger through worship. Your life is meant for worship. You were designed to know and desire the beauty and splendor of Jesus Christ. If our church is to really matter in the early part of the 21st Century, then must recognize Who is ultimately in authority. Our church exists to bring glory to God by seeing life-change through the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31).

2. Our Church Exists for the Truth. We believe the Bible Matters. As a result, our goal is to grower deeper through discipleship (Acts 2:42). The Bible is our yardstick – it’s how we measure our very lives.

American culture is changing and nearly everyone senses the standard flags of our day have changed direction. Many will say to evangelical, Bible-believing churches such as ours, “If the church doesn’t change its message it will lose the next generation.” This line of arguing isn’t a new. A generation ago the church was told that if it didn’t throw out the miracles of the Bible, then it would die. If we didn’t get rid of “burning bushes” and a literal resurrection, we would go the way of pay phones and 8 track tapes. Back then, people wanted the Bible’s morality without the miracles. But today, we want the miracles of the Bible without the morality of the Bible. Apathy for the Bible is turning to antagonism in our day. While laws come and go but only the word of God stay arounds (Matthew 5:17-18). We must continue to hold to the authority of the Bible for all matters in our lives.

3. Our Church Exists for the City. We believe evangelism matters and we must grow larger through sharing the Christ’s love (Acts 4:12). We also believe ministry matters and we must grow broader through meeting the needs of the outside world. Our church doesn’t simply represent one city but a multitude of cities. We are bordered by both the rich and poor. You can find shimmering beautiful office buildings a few blocks from us while you can just easily see graffiti-laced houses and abandoned business buildings in a matter of a few blocks. We exist to bring this city to Christ.

We must recognize that 68% of people who make Tarrant County their home are lost. We can see this in the decay of the family where only 46% of the children in our nation are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents who are still in their first marriage. Government programs are not the answer for our society’s ills – only in worshipping Jesus Christ does our heart truly heal.

4. Our Church Exists for the World. We believe missions matters. Our desire is to spread the gospel further than our county, our state, and our nation. The gospel was intended to move to all the continents (Matthew 28:18-20). God loves to see even one lost man, woman, boy, or girl turn from their sins and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord (Luke 15:10).

5. Our Church Exists for the One Another. We believe love for each other matters and we must grow warmer through love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Wherever Christ is, there is always love for others. And God has called us to love the least of the least (Matthew 25:40).

Related Post: For the Five Challenge for the next year, go here.

For the full video of Sunday’s Vision Recast Sermon, go here.

The Story of Adoniram Judson’s Conversion

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was one of America’s first missionaries. In his later year, he showed incredible bravery for the cause of Christ but he wasn’t always a believer.

Reading at the age of three, he had a brilliant mind and a personality that attracted others to him. Although he was raised in a pastor’s home and knew all about the God of his father, he grew to reject the Bible as God’s book. It’s no surprise to most that it is possible to grow up surrounded by the truth of Christianity without knowing Jesus Christ in a personal way. At some point, every young person must cross the threshold from their parent’s faith to their own.

As a freshman at the College at Providence, Judson began to privately question everything he had been taught growing up in a pastor’s home. Much of this skepticism was planted in his mind through the influence of a fellow student named Jacob Eames. Eames was witty, likable by all, but also an outspoken unbeliever. Adoniram and Jacob spent most of their time in pursuit of a good time. While Judson did his best to keep his skepticism private from his parents through his college years, he outed himself upon his return from college when he announced he was rejecting Christianity in order to leave for New York to take up a career as a playwright.

Success in New York proved to be elusive. Frustrated, he left New York one night silently and set out for his uncle’s home in Sheffield. Desiring to rest for the night, he stopped at an inn. The innkeeper apologized while explaining that the inn was nearly full. The only room left laid next to a critically ill man who perhaps was dying. Judson dismissed the idea that the man’s illness would cause him to lose any sleep. Yet, the agonizing cries and groans of this sick man wouldn’t allow him to sleep. Throughout the night, he heard footsteps next door and low groans.

As Adoniram laid half asleep that night, a question arose in his heart: Is the man in the next room prepared for death? He was bothered by the thought that the anonymous man wasn’t prepared to die but soon he wondered the same thing about himself. Was he prepared to die? He was terrified. But as soon as he considered his fear of death, he dismissed his thoughts as the kind of weird thinking that goes on in the middle of the night. After all, what would his classmates at the college say to these terrors in the middle of the night? What would his skeptic friends think of Judson who had boldly embraced Deism during his college years. And what would his good friend Jacob Eames say if he heard of Judson’s fear? He imagined Eames’ laugh and felt ashamed.

When he awoke in the morning, the terrors were no more. He ran downstairs to the innkeeper and asked for the bill. It was then, casually, he asked whether the young man in the next room had recovered. “He is dead,” was the answer. For just an instant, some of the nighttime fears arose once more.

Judson inquired if he knew the man who he was. “Oh yes,” replied the innkeeper, “Young man from the College in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”

 

Judson would spend his life translating the pages of the Bible to the people of then Burma (known as Myanmar today) from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.

 

Note: This story is adapted from Courtney Anderson’s To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson