Monday, September 29, 2008


Shepherd's Statement

Several of you have asked about the statement I read a few weeks ago. Here it is. Feel free to comment.

From time to time you will hear and read "statements" from the elders. This morning what you are getting is a look into our hearts. My fellow elders have asked that I share with you a glimpse into our hearts. I will tell you I know these men. I have studied with them, prayed with them, cried with them, and laughed with them.

Our hearts, our passion, and our lives are committed to reaching our community and our world with the Good News of Jesus and enabling each of us to grow to be more like him. We commit that all of our assemblies (Daybreak, Refresh, Sunday evening service, Home Gatherings, or any other assembly), each of our ministries, and all our financial and physical resources will be designed and utilized to honor God, to know Jesus, and to invite others into our family.

We will use a common core teaching thread thru all of our assemblies. We will share in the Lord's Supper together. But in order not to lose focus on this critical task of reaching people for Jesus, we do want to address two items that have come to our attention: we are an a cappella congregation so our singing during the assemblies will be without instrumental accompaniment, and our worship services are, and will be, led by men.

As always, we are willing to visit with any of our members about this or other questions you may have, But our passion is to have all of our flock follow us into heaven. So please call on us for spiritual counsel or prayer. And we want our flock to increase so if you are here and want to know more about Jesus and to die with him in order to live forever, please see one of us today.

We love our Lord, we love your, and we love the lost of this community. May God bless each of us on this and every day until he calls us home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Assemblies and rumors..

And still the rumors circulate.

Here are my four favorites I heard this week (but not from anybody directly).

We are following the (insert name of congregation here) model.

While I overwhelmed that someone would think we have some kind of long range, thought out such luck. We really don't pay much attention to anyone else. And, seriously, we have no plans to change our current worship policy.

We want to keep people from leaving to go to (insert name of congregation here).

I do appreciate the fact that we have members other churches would want. However, if we planned services around a defensive strategy to try to keep everyone happy enough not to leave we would go absolutely nuts. Our plans are about growth, not retention.

We want to be just like (insert name of congregation here).

While there are any number of wonderful congregations all over this world, we just don't have time to be like anyone else. We have enough to worry about being Southern Hills.

We want to influence the brotherhood in a different direction than (insert name of congregation here).

Again, I am thrilled that anyone actually thinks we can influence the brotherhood. We are concerned with what happens at Southern Hills. And we believe in church autonomy. So we trust other elderships to do what is best for them. Just as we are trying to do what is best for Southern Hills.

So... feel free to weigh in.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Daybreak, Refresh, Sundown, and Home Gathering

These are the names we are now using for the Sunday worship assemblies at Southern Hills. They are the same but different. What I mean is that all assemblies follow the same core teaching thread: same passages, same theme, and same message. The communication and worship styles are somewhat different, with Refresh being geared more to a communication model that fits with the Millennials better. That includes shorter messages, interactive communication, more relational communion, etc. Daybreak is the service that is more of the format Southern Hills has generally used over the past few years. Someone did ask if this was the "traditional" service. It is amusing for me to hear our services referred to as traditional. But it does reflect what has been our usual style. All of our services operate under the worship guidelines our elders have adopted. Different, but the same.

The hope is that different assemblies -- in terms of times and communication styles -- will help us to reach more people and help everyone be drawn into community at Southern Hills. So... we have also launched three Home Gatherings. These are assemblies in homes. We are currently planning to revise our Sunday night assembly (Sundown) to be yet another option for worship and evangelism.

Depending on who you talk to we are either passionate about doing whatever we can to reach out to the unbelievers in our community and to make our worship together a place to meet God whatever your age, culture, or background. Or we are catering to every whim and complainer who wants things done their way.

Personally, I buy into the "all things to all people to reach some" theory.

Feel free to comment. Maybe in the next post I will share some of the rumors I have heard about this initiative.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


More from Africa...

Here are some of the really special memories from Africa.

...I always am asked to do some leadership training while there. They have had many elders from the States come and teach. They always talk about the qualifications. I spent most of my time talking about how to be a Shepherd. Several liked the idea of spending less time praying for the flock and more time praying with the sheep.

... I also spent time talking about how leaders confront temptation. In a concluding remark, one of the church leaders summed up my advice as follows: "Don't talk to a woman by yourself, don't count the money by yourself, and don't fix the communion wine by yourself". Not bad advice.

... In Mozambique there were a number of Moslems who came and heard the preaching. It made it very interesting. I thought it made it even easier to focus on the true gospel message. Most of the Moslems did not ask about instrumental music, women's role in the church, or about worship styles (sarcasm alert).

They did seem interested about who Jesus really was and whether he really makes a difference in our lives.

... I missed a couple of funerals that I wish I had been at -- one of which I had promised to preach when the time came. However, both of those would rather me have been where I was talking about Jesus. I'll tell them more about it when I see them in heaven.

... It was good to travel with Wes Shutt. He is young, enthusiastic, and eager to share the good news all over this planet. I enjoyed seeing things from his perspective.

God is good, this world needs to hear the message of his Son, people everywhere are hungry for the good news.

And I am more at home with Christians in a foreign culture than I am with non-Christians in my culture. Just something to think about.

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