Archives For STORYCHURCH

Thoughts and comments meant specifically for the STORYCHURCH community.

Some Monday mornings I wake up and wonder “Did I really say that yesterday?” Usually it’s more of a situation where I wish I had made my point clearer, or maybe not said that one joke that seemed to bomb. And then there’s today.

Yesterday at STORYCHURCH I shared the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Somewhere during the message I went out of my way to make the point that the Sunday school song and story we had all learned about the little boy offering his lunch was, in fact, not real. In my preparation for the message I read through Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of the story and the boy is nowhere to be found.

But then this morning…. I started having doubts. Something seemed… fishy. A very quick (embarrassingly quick) google search pointed me to that pesky fourth gospel writer – John.

John 6:8-9
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

So there you have it. That dang little boy. Right there in John. With his five loaves and his two fish and his puppy dog eyes.

Gripes.

So here I am on a Monday morning, thankful for grace and laughing at myself. Hope that gives you a little laugh today as well!

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New Song

March 17, 2016 — Leave a comment

A few days ago, Alastair Vance shared this song with me as we were working on planning our Easter services. It’s been on repeat ever since. I hope you’ll listen and if you’re a STORYCHURCHer I hope you’ll learn it – we’ll be singing it on Easter!

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IMG_2099(This series is based on a recent teaching I did at STORYCHURCH. I don’t normally do this but it was so important I’m asking you to listen or watch when you can.)

To read part 1 of this series, go here.

The picture above demonstrates so clearly the heart of God.

In James 1 it says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

In other words, take care of the vulnerable, namely vulnerable children and vulnerable women. In our culture today it may not be orphans and widows, it may be foster kids or single parent homes (mom or dad). It may be kids being raised by grandparents or it may be a teenager whose father is incarcerated.

My dream for our church is that we would be known in our city as a church that is taking serious the call to be mentors, coaches, tutors, foster parents, respite providers, youth leaders and advocates for those without a voice.

I pray that teenagers in our city find our church to be full of people who believe in them and want to see them succeed. I pray that single moms find support and mentors for their children. I pray that young people are empowered and raised up to be leaders who shape their culture and break the cycle of pain in so many of their families.

My wife and I have been praying these prayers for a decade or more now and when we moved into our first permanent facility in 2014 we wrote those prayers on the door frames, on the floor and on the stage before finished our renovations.

fatherlesspic We believe these prayers are beginning to be answered. Multiple families within our church are checking in to becoming foster parents, some have already completed classes (including my family!). And this fall we will be hosting Durham Social Services as they train dozens of new potential foster parents right in our facility. It’s an exciting start to what we hope is a movement within our church and ultimately our city.

If you’re interested in learning more about foster care in Durham County, you can go here.

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This weekend I got to teach one of the most important sermons I’ve ever given. I know that’s kind of a big statement but I think it’s true. It turned out to be a message not only about all that God has done in and through our church but about what he was stirring in us for the next season of our church as well. It was a day when so many things came together and we were able to celebrate as we looked back and to anticipate as we looked ahead.

I don’t normally do this, but given the importance of this particular message, I’d actually like to ask you to listen or watch it online – particularly if you are a STORYCHURCHer.

In the coming days I’ll be posting a little bit here on each of the 5 Dreams. For now, here’s the 4 things I said were important for seeing our dreams become reality.

4 STEPS TO SEEING YOUR DREAM BECOME A REALITY.

1) Give your dream voice.

  • When we speak our dreams out loud or write them down on paper we give birth to them. We allow them to live and they can start to grow. If a dream just lives in our head then it hasn’t really moved any closer to ever happening.
  • When we give it birth, it’s natural to experience fear. Don’t let that stop you from giving it a voice.
    • Have you written it down? Does anyone else know it?

 

2) Entrust it to someone safe.

  • Not everyone can handle your dream with the care you need them to use. Some people will be quick to poke holes, to tell you why it could never happen or to shoot it down as an impossibility. Your dream is fragile in this stage. Entrust it to someone who will encourage you, who will pray with you about it, or who will simply celebrate the idea with you.
  • In Genesis 37:19-20 we have the example of Joseph who shared a dream with his brothers about how they would one day bow down to him. Not a good idea.
  • Side note: Be a safe person for others to dream with. Don’t go into problem solving mode, don’t give them a “reality check,” and don’t start poking holes. Offer encouragement, prayer, excitement. We can worry about the details later.
    • Who is the safe person in your life? Schedule a coffee or make it a point to turn off the TV and share your dream tonight.

 

3) Trust the process. (Don’t rush it)

  • Sometimes we get an idea or we feel like God shows us something so we go out and rush to make it happen. If we try and force the dream before it’s ready we can mess things up pretty badly.
    • 3A – We could miss the miracle. It could be that God has just given us a glimpse of what could be and when we go out and max our credit card or jump into a relationship with the first breathing person we find, or quit our job – we could be missing out on the way that God wanted to provide for us. Pastor Andy Stanley says “What God originates, He orchestrates.” In other words, if God gave you the dream, he’ll make it happen. We don’t need to force it.
    • 3B – The other thing that could happen is that we could misinterpret the dream. We may not have the full picture just yet. In Genesis 37 Joseph has a dream that his brothers will bow down to him. He thinks it’s a dream about him and his future. The truth is that it’s a dream about how God is going to rescue his people. Joseph doesn’t get that yet and it takes a lot of pain before he learns the full meaning of the dream.
  • Some of the safe people in our lives (see #2) have sometimes started poking holes too soon in the past because we’ve been the kinds of people who jumped into something without really allowing that dream to develop. We didn’t really trust the process. So those safe people have felt like they better act quickly or we’re likely to sell our houses and move to Indonesia tomorrow. If we’ll trust the process, those people around us will probably become safer people as well.
    • Where do you need to trust the process? 

 

4) Take the first step.

  • Maybe the first step is an act of worship. Jacob (Genesis 28) wakes from a dream where God reveals to Him all that He’s going to do to bless him and his family. The first thing he does is worship God. When’s the last time we thanked God for the thing we don’t yet have but believe He’s promised to us? What if we thanked him for the future spouse? For the kids we don’t yet have? For the freedom we will have when we get out of debt? For the job we pray about?
  • Additionally, sometimes the first step is an act of faith in that it’s the first baby step toward the dream. It’s signing up for the class. It’s buying the running shoes. It’s saving the first $100 toward our goal. It’s making the phone call. You’d be surprised how one small step can be the catalyst that changes everything.
    • What’s your first step?

 

Pastor Tommy Barnett of the “Dream Center” in Los Angeles recently tweeted: “Dreaming is an act of faith.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Pride

October 14, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I’ve been wrestling for a couple of days with my thoughts and emotions. Sunday was the culmination of months of prayer, faith, stress, hard work and leading at a level I have never needed to lead before. And when I say hard work, I mean actual work – like with power tools. For the last few months I’ve been about 10% pastor, 20% organizational leader, and about 70% construction guy. So this last week all of that resulted in a day where we opened up the first permanent facility of STORYCHURCH and went from one service to two at the same time.

At the end of two amazing services on Sunday I basically collapsed into a heap. I struggled to keep it together as I wanted to cry, to cheer, to yell, and to celebrate. I’ve compared it to what it must be like to fall across the finish line of a marathon as a novice runner. You feel barely alive and yet more alive than ever before. I think the emotion I keep coming back to is pride. Not the bad kind of “look how awesome we are” pride, but the “I’m so stinkin’ proud of what we’ve accomplished” kind of pride. I’m so proud of our staff who stretched so far beyond their limits. I’m proud of our rising leaders who got their hands dirty and served alongside us. I’m proud of our teams who created new systems and processes for a new building and carried them out without a hitch for two services. I’m proud of people who stepped up to “attend one and serve one.” I’m proud of our brand new volunteers. I’m proud of those who invited friends and family. I’m proud of people who sacrificially gave and helped us to raise the money we needed to accomplish all of this. I’m proud of the way our church became a people of prayer as we did a 40 day prayer challenge together.

I think the coming days and weeks will be about catching my breath, getting my feet back under me, and probably beginning to look ahead at what’s next. But for now, I’m simply proud to be part of this amazing group of people.

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Save the date

August 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

We are so excited to be able to announce that Sunday, October 12 will be our first Sunday in our new facility and is therefore the official kickoff to “Chapter Two” in the life of STORYCHURCH.

For us as a church it’s a day that’s been four and a half years in the making. We’ve been so blessed to have a facility like Spring Valley Elementary School to call home on Sundays, but this next step will enable us to do more than ever before.

Like everything in life, change isn’t always easy. For us it’s not just an exciting new home, it’s an opportunity for us to stretch our faith and to grow our vision for what’s possible here in Durham. That’s why we’ve committed to 40 Days of Prayer together. That’s why we’re asking everyone who calls STORYCHURCH home to give generously to help us complete all the necessary renovations to our new home.

I’ve personally been praying circles around this new facility asking God to change lives, to rescue marriages, to place dreams in the hearts of all who enter. I’m praying for kids that will be mentored here, teenagers who will receiving a calling from God here. I’m praying for protection, for huge impact, and for hundreds and even thousands of people who are far from God that will learn of his love for them and learn to embrace the story they were meant to live.

If you’re a STORYCHURCHer, please join us in prayer and in giving generously to see lives changed (be sure to select “Chapter Two” in the dropdown menu).

If you’re in the Triangle and looking for a safe place to explore faith and be part of a community, please join us.

And all of you, SAVE THE DATE!! You won’t want to miss our Grand Opening on October 12, 2014!

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Forty

August 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

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At STORYCHURCH we’ve been working our way through the story of Moses and the Israelites. This week we caught up with them with the Red Sea at their back and the army of Egypt approaching them at the front. It was an impossible situation with no way out. And the people weren’t happy about it. They confronted Moses with “Was it because there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that you brought us into the wilderness to die?”

And that’s when Moses tells the people “The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.”

That doesn’t feel like much of a solution. It’s easier to do something. Anything. But to be still, to wait on God, to trust Him to come through in an otherwise impossible situation – that is hard.

The story moves forward as God parts the sea and makes a way for the Israelites to walk across on dry land. It’s an improbable solution to an impossible situation.

As a church we’re in one of those Red Sea moments. God did something amazing for us recently when He made it possible for us to purchase our first permanent facility. It was a miracle really – something we weren’t even looking to do. And so we extended ourselves, we took a risk, we followed Him out of one chapter and into the next. And now it sort of feels like He led us into an impossible situation. We’re too far out to turn back now, and yet at the same time without a real clear way forward. To date (August 12, 2014) we’ve raised just about 45-50% of the funds needed to complete renovations on the facility. And the clock is ticking. We have just about two months to finish the work.

My tendency in these moments is to freak out. It’s to rush into something. Anything. It’s to desperately do whatever I can. But I think in this season we need to hang on to this: “The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.”

So we’re going to do just that. We’re going to spend the next 40 days seeking after Him together in prayer. We’ve purchased everyone a copy of Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle” and we’re going to spend the next 40 days together circling this facility and all the needs for it in prayer.

If you are part of STORYCHURCH I want to invite you to please join us. This is our moment. It’s our time to watch the deliverance of the Lord. It’s our time to see Him do the impossible. I think this is going to be the greatest time our church has ever experienced and I don’t want you to miss it. If you didn’t get a book Sunday we’ve got extras at the church building, or you can pick one up on Sunday and join us a few days late. Of course if you want to get it digitally you can do that as well.

Each day we’ll be posting reminders, thoughts and reflections from that day’s reading so be sure to connect with us on all your favorite social media platforms as well. I can’t wait to see what God does in your life over the next 40 days and in the life of our church!

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Chapter Two

June 3, 2014 — 2 Comments

This weekend at STORYCHURCH we got to announce some incredible news – that after four and a half years of portable church, we are about to close on our FIRST PERMANENT FACILITY!

I’ll be honest, I never saw this coming. At least not right now. About a year ago we shut down a process of looking for a new location to rent (not buy!) and after checking out more than 60 spots, we couldn’t find a single thing that worked for us. Instead we recommitted ourselves to the community we are already in and really sensed that God was saying it wasn’t the time.

Sometimes God closes doors.

So then a few months ago we were approached by the remaining members of Fuller Memorial Presbyterian church here in Durham, roughly a mile from where we meet. It’s a church with a 115 year history and a vision for the future that exceeded even that, surpassing the energy they had to give to it. That vision and that kingdom mindset resulted in a ridiculously amazing offer that we simply couldn’t refuse.

Sometimes God opens a door.

In the comparably short history of STORYCHURCH, it feels as though one chapter is wrapping up and a new chapter is beginning. In our world, it’s Chapter Two. And Chapter Two is where the inciting incident often hangs out. It’s the moment when the story goes to a whole new level and you either dive in or you put down the book and pick up a new one.

STORYCHURCH – I for one can’t wait to see where this thing goes and I’m PUMPED that I get to do this with you! It’s going to be an incredible journey and we’re just getting started.

Who’s excited!?!?

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2014easter_square400The morning after Easter for a pastor is like waking up after you played in the Super Bowl. You kind of have a fog about you, and sort of a question of “Did that really happen?” I know for me I woke up this morning with an awareness of God’s goodness and the amazing things He did in us this weekend. Yesterday was an historic day for STORYCHURCH. For the first time ever we had two services. We crushed our attendance record, we saw people come to faith in Jesus, we saw multiple people serving for the first time. Our teams were well prepared, they made each experience and interaction as fresh as the first, and basically the whole thing went off without a hitch.

It was the culmination of months of conversations and preparation and hard work, and to see it all go so well was an incredible thing for me. It never gets old to see people committed to a vision, committed to each other, and committed to serving Jesus.

One thing is for sure, we’ve got some of the most amazing leaders and volunteers on the planet. I really believe that every person who invited, who served, who gave, who prayed, who shook a hand and smiled – every one of us made a difference yesterday.

Thanks STORYCHURCH. You inspire me every day to keep helping people “embrace the story they were meant to live.” Thanks for believing in our mission, for sharing the load, for contributing your resources and time and talent, and for caring enough about people to introduce them to Jesus.

Guess what? We get to do it again soon!

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JOY

December 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

9124470951_1a2f61a77b_bWe’ve been talking about JOY all month at STORYCHURCH as we head toward Christmas. And this week, we just launched our annual year-end giving project called the “Joy Offering.” Funds from this offering allow us at STORYCHURCH to do things that just aren’t in the budget. It allows us to look beyond paying bills and to move the mission of our church forward in very real, practical ways. Probably the most important thing we do each year as a church through this offering is to fund and build a well somewhere in the world for people who don’t otherwise have access to clean water. We’ve built wells in the Central African Republic, in Haiti, and twice in Guatemala.

Last year, I had the privilege of being part of the team that went to Guatemala and ran the drill rig that literally dug the well. That meant that I got to work alongside the very people who would be drinking from this well. It was an incredible experience. One of my favorite people that I met there was “Yayo.” I’m not sure how you spell it actually, but it’s pronounced “Yah-Yo.” As you can probably see, Yayo has down syndrome. But when I think about someone with JOY, I think about Yayo. He was so much fun to be around. Despite the language barrier, his sweet spirit came through loud and clear.

What probably impacted me the most about Yayo was his ability to bring JOY wherever he went. The local people knew him well. He was apparently always around the neighborhood, wandering in and out of places. He had a HUGE appetite. Haha. He ate more food at meals than anyone I’ve ever seen. And he loved to help out with whatever we were doing. The gloves he has on here were a source of laughter for us all constantly. It seemed like he was always taking them off and then asking for help to put them back on. We probably put those gloves on his hands twenty times a day. Ha! Yayo was somewhat limited with Down’s Syndrome, but his ability to bring joy to all of us was really special. Whenever he was around, there were smiles and laughs happening. He loved to tease people, to shadow box, and to make funny faces.

I share all this because JOY is such a precious resource. Like water itself, JOY comes from somewhere deep down. And when a group of people receive life-giving water in their community, it’s not just water that comes to the surface. It’s JOY. In Guatemala I saw old men laughing and having water fights, kids pouring water over their heads, and an entire village come out to celebrate and have a party together because something as simple as water was now available to them.

This is why we do our JOY OFFERING. I hope you’ll consider joining me in giving generously to see lives changed and to bring JOY to the world.

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