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.

A Preview of Sunday, August 25: The Biblical Guidelines of Sex

On Sunday, August 25, I will preach on “The Biblical Guidelines of Sex.” My goal on this Sunday is to talk candidly about this very important subject matter. My aim is to do this with sensitivity and tactfulness. In contrast to what seems to be happening in some churches across our country, I want to do this without embarrassing you (the North Richland Hills Baptist Church family), my wife, or myself. I want to assure parents in particular that this message will seek to assist you in raising your kids for sexual purity. My own children will hear this message, and I want to be careful with their ears as well. Indeed, I want to follow the Bible’s directive when speaking about this sensitive subject (Ephesians 5:3-4).

The church must talk about sex. We live in sex-crazy days. Whereas just three to four decades ago, our cultural icon, the TV, was merely pushing the envelope of the sexual revolution; today the proverbially envelope has been pushed. Our culture is saturated in sexual freedom and it is our idol. People in our day frequently make the analogy between one’s physical appetite and a sexual appetite, insinuating sexual freedom is necessary to satisfy an appetite. American citizens are rightfully concerned with sex trafficking. Women, especially, are viewed in terms of their sexual desirability leaving teen girls with the undeniable message that if you are not “hot,” you are of little value.

In light of this trend, I want to address the topic of sex along three broad-brush strokes, recognizing fully that the biblical sexual ethic has always been out of step with the culture.

First, there is a connection between your sex life and the gospel. Many people love their church but “hold their noses” when it comes to the church’s teaching on sexual ethics. Yet, the early church saw the connection between the gospel and a person’s sexual activity (Acts 15:29). Indeed, the Bible takes the subject of sex seriously (Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8) while it takes God’s grace even more seriously (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). God’s grace even promises to reprogram your sexual desires.

Second, the Bible takes a high view of sex. Where history tells us the stories of influential people who took a low view of sex, the Bible offers something infinitely better. A low view of sex says sex is evil and sexual relations are necessary for the purpose of procreation only. This view thinks sex is dirty and we shouldn’t talk about it openly. In contrast, the biblical sexual ethic is altogether different. While the Bible commands couples to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and the Bible reserves sex only for those who are currently inside the bond of marriage (Hebrews 13:4), sex is seen as God’s good gift to married couples. Indeed, it is for their mutual enjoyment (see the entire Old Testament book called the Song of Solomon).

Third, in keeping with this high view of sex, pursue a superior satisfaction. Many people turn a deaf ear to the church’s teaching on sex because they believe it to be a killjoy. Many incredulously wonder when the church will update its teaching on sex because the church’s views are seen as antiquated and hopelessly out of touch. Yet, in an attempt to heighten our pleasures, we find ourselves surrounded by sexual images that continually enslave us. In contrast, we see powerful evidence that the sexual purity called for in the pages of the Bible will offer us a superior satisfaction. The sexual purity of the first Christians gave them a power for their relationships and a renewed sense of honesty and transparency within their relationships. Those early Christians were far from regressive as they were many of the same people who had enjoyed the fruits of sexual freedom so prevalent in the Roman Empire. Instead, this new approach to a sexual purity transformed their lives and eventually their culture.

If you have not heard an informed Christian speak on the Bible’s view of sex, I hope you will join me on Sunday, August 25, at North Richland Hills Baptist Church.