How to help a pastor (or friend) grieve

This update comes on the last week of our third year as a church. After the first weekend in October Grafted will officially be three years old! Thinking back over that time I realize more and more as the years go on that I have no clue what I am doing. I know that I do my best to encourage you all with the good news that the Gospel brings to each of our lives, and that I live before you as an example of how to live in reaction to that good news, but the details of how to pull that off have always been a bit sketchy to me.
I have lived before you through the birth of my son and the near death of my wife; I have lived before you through my mistakes and my victories; I have sometimes led you poorly and needed to apologize and other times I have provided good leadership; we moved the location where we hold our weekly church service and many of us have moved where we call home on a day to day basis; we have started some ministries together and some of them have even worked!
With all of this in mind, I want to now come before you and let you see how a son, who understands his place as God’s son through Christ, grieves the death of his father. But once again I have no clue what I am doing. Some days it feels like I just didn’t talked to him because we missed each other’s phone calls. Some days the fact that I can’t call him anymore really hits me. Some days are days to get things done as a way to process emotions. Some days are days when I want to surround myself with my kids’ stuff animals and be in the fetal position for 8 hours. Grief is weird. And it has hit me at weird times.
I want you all to be a part of my grieving process.
That doesn’t mean that you need to always ask me how I am doing that day, but rather it means that I want you to be there. Be there so that later we can look back and say, “remember that time when I was driving down the road and I started crying for no reason and you were able to sit with me?” Be there so that we can look back and laugh. Be there so that when we want to look back we don’t need to tell the stories because we were both there.
When my first college buddy got married I was a part of the crew that royally messed up celebrating his wedding because our friend group had absolutely no institutional knowledge of how to do a bachelor party and all the other things. If this is the first time that you are seeing someone of our age go through the loss of a loved one, let me impart some of the institutional knowledge that I have picked up: you don’t need to do much, just show up and be there.

Why start a blog?

Welcome to the Grafted Community Church Blog. While there are many reasons to put thoughts to paper, it is my hope that this collection of thoughts can become a place where people are able to see the intersection of the church, theology, and life: the gospel.
There is no reason why this tool is better than any other tool for discussing these ideas; each tool has its place. With this tool I hope that we can connect and discuss so that when we see each other in real life that the discussions can continue.
I don’t expect everyone who reads this blog to agree with everything that I have to say, but I do expect for you to think about it and discuss it with at least one other person to test out what I have to say in another setting.
While some of what I have to say may have a theological bent to them, my aim is to always conclude my posts with a question: something that is applicable to everyone’s day to day life.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as we journey together!

Gospel of John

Come and See Life in His Name

From the beginning of Jesus ministry in the Gospel of John (1:39) readers are invited to Come and See what Jesus does during John’s account of Jesus’s earthly ministry.  Along the way John reveals a miraculous healer and teacher whose actions are so powerful that John hopes that by us reading about them that we “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have Life in His Name.” (20:31)  Join us as we read this gospel together, attempting to become like the first readers who come and see what Jesus is up to and to fulfill the desire of this Gospel’s author that we too would find a new life in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Listen to the sermon series here.

Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed

This gathering of beliefs has been a part of the Christian family for over one and a half millennia.  In this series we give it another look, recognizing that it will point us to scripture and through it will point us to the Good News that God Saves Sinners.  We are studying this text not to help us define our boarders more clearly between us and the outside world, but rather to more clearly define the well to which we are pointing everyone with whom we come in contact.  Join us as we look more deeply at The Apostles’ Creed.

Bless, Belong, Believe, Bloom

Bless, Belong, Believe, Bloom

We may not be the first (or the hundred and first) to use these four words to describe a road to spiritual maturity.  But we are using them to give more clarity to how we are going to go about accomplishing our Vision Statement: “Grafted Community Church exists to honor God by helping as many people as possible become fully committed members in Christ’s Forever Family.”  The Good News that God Saves Sinners calls us to reach out to everyone with whom we interact with Blessings, which encourage others to Belong as a part of our community, in our community we study the Word of God which will confront everyone’s Belief system and change it, and in that change we find that we can Bloom into the people God is calling us to be.  This two week study is a quick Call to Action for Grafted Community Church to follow Jesus by living out the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Bless, Belong, Believe, Bloom

Ok,

As many of you know 2016 has been filled with all kinds of questions centering around who we are as a church.  I know that there has been a bit of frustration due to a lack of ability to articulate Grafted’s philosophy of ministry, and thus difficulty knowing how each of the ministries you all oversee fit into this philosophy and how individuals at Grafted can do the same.  But I hope that the frustration can be nearing an end.  We have had many ideas floating around about how to do ministry at Grafted: “Grow, Gather, Go”, “20s and 30s who are in transition and their families”, “family, friends, neighbors, co-workers”, and “recurrent, deep, meaningful relationships” to name a few.  As I sat with Jordan Hirsch today, it was as if a light bulb went off and almost all of these ideas come into alignment.  So here goes a shot at synthesizing all of the ideas that have been floating around so far into a holistic philosophy of ministry of what Grafted currently does.

In order to do this I needed to borrow another phrase I lifted off of some other church planters.  I did not come up with it, but when someone makes a wheel, there is no reason to reinvent one.  The phrase is “Bless, Belong, Believe, and Bloom.”

Bless

We all have people in our lives.  Often they fall into the categories of Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Co-workers.  Within these categories there are those in their 20s and 30s and their families who are in transition.  It is these people whom we would like to bless.  God has blessed us with more than we could ever have asked for; we have the opportunity to bless others as a reflection of the blessing that God has given to us.  Blessing someone in 2016 is awkward as all get out outside of the context of relationship (not to mention that a relationship can be a blessing as well!)  In order to be a blessing to others we should attempt to create recurrent, deep, and meaningful relationships with them.

Belong

After building a recurrent, deep, meaningful relationship with someone based off of a desire to be a blessing for them we can invite them to be a part of Christ’s forever Family.  This can be as simple as inviting them to a Sunday service.  While there are many different ways a person can become a Grafite, the typical “front door” to Grafted Community Church is through someone being in relationship with someone else and they invite them to our Sunday worship service.  On Sunday we will have a service that strives to be available to newcomers, will always strive to have the good news of the gospel presented, and will aim at being an appetizer of a relationship with God that encourages people to dive deeper the rest of the week.  With Sunday being the front door, we will attempt to plug those who come on a Sunday morning into other relationships where deeper belonging can take place.  The primary avenue for relationship building is our small groups.  If the Sunday worship is the appetizer, small groups is the meal.

Believe

Because the newcomer has been blessed through relationships and has been invited to belong in a community in which the Gospel is the center, we believe that their beliefs will be changed.  That is just what happens when you interact with the Word of God in the context of the People of God who are being led by the Spirit of God.

Bloom

This is the point in the cycle when the newcomer has become a part of Grafted and is encouraged to Grow in their faith, Gather other newcomers from their Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Co-worker who are in their 20s and 30s and their families who are in transition, and Go to others encouraged by the blessing they have received from God through the people of Grafted.  While we are all people who have been saved by faith and can do nothing on our own to earn our salvation, we recognize that being a part of the Forever Family of God comes with responsibilities.  While no one is expected to either know or be able to accomplish every responsibility to which we are all called as members of the Family of God when they first become believers in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we all should be growing, blooming, and bearing fruit as time goes on in respect to growing, gathering, and going.