Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last post of 2009!

2009 in the books!
Man what a year! Every church goes through various stages of growth and development much like people do. One of the critical things for any organizational leader is learning to identify what kind of stage or season you are in and helping people respond appropriately. As I compared the last several months of 2009 at Ridge Church to the same months a year ago it is literally staggering to see the difference and the progress. We are in a growth phase that is connecting us with new people literally every single week. We have also seen literally unbelievable life change in people in 2009. I truly believe that Ridge Church is postured walking into 2010 to experience a year like none before in our short history as a church. Buckle your seat belt...and definitely decide see and experience it for yourself.

God is raising up an army of people in the Ridge community that are and will fully engage in expressing his love to both our city and our world in radical ways. I can't wait to hit 2010 full speed!

If you missed it--catch up on our last message of 2009 HERE. The content is so relevant for so many people--Can chaos, uncertainty, and peace all exist in the same season?

The Challenge:
Join the facebook Challenge HERE. We want to invite 1,000 people to our opening series of 2010 through our facebook event page. It's going to be crazy!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remembering09 Every face=a story

This is a little 2009 video flashback to remind us of some of the amazing things that God has done and is doing in peoples lives through Ridge Church.

Where it all began:
This all began as a dream back in 2005 of a church that would welcome people that had given up on church but had not necessarily abandoned the idea of God. We also wanted a place for followers of Jesus to be excited to bring their un-churched friends and a place where children would drag their parents to church. That dream began to take shape resulting in a few informational and core gatherings in 2006. By the end of 2006 we had a core team of 35-40 adults chomping at the bit to get this thing started. In 2007 we had about 28 night worship services to test the waters and then "finally" in September of 2008 we fully launched to the public and began meeting every Sunday morning.

TRUTHFULLY: We couldn't have imagined how hard this would be--or how much it would require of us but I don't think we could have imagined how rewarding it would be either. Watching people who had given up on God--turn the corner and enter a personal, life changing relationship with Jesus never gets old. I can't wait to see what's around the next corner!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ridge staff jib jabs-pretty funny!

The Ridge Church staff made a cameo in "jib jab" for our Volunteer Christmas party. It was great to laugh and relax with this incredible group of people that make Ridge Church what it is. Couldn't do this without you. Thanks! If you are attending but haven't joined the volunteer team--what in the world are you waiting for? Check back tomorrow and as you watch the video remember and be proud for what God has done through you this year! Pretty amazing stuff. Enjoy the jib jabs:-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's simply not possible...

What we do and who we are at Ridge Church is simply not possible without high levels of commitment from high level people who generously give of themselves, their time, their gifts and abilities, and their financial resources. Honestly we have an absolutely impressive group of people that have consistently and selflessly thrown their shoulders under this young church and this mission we so passionately pursue.

Volunteer Celebration:
Last night was about them [volunteers]. We had a great time with our volunteers through a Christmas dinner and celebration. We laughed together, worshiped together, ate of course, celebrated life change, and dreamed together. There are no small volunteer roles at Ridge. Every car well parked, every person greeted with a smile, every guest helped, every child and parent professionally checked in, every diaper changed, every line memorized for upstreet or waumba, every group prepped for adults or students, every stage and graphic designed, every light operated, every worship song prepared and lead---and yes every chair, pipe and drape, truss, or sign moved early in the morning MATTERS to our mission!! Volunteers, thanks for making this church what it is.

If you missed the party you truly missed out. Here is a quick video shot from my phone of a simply awesome reflective time of worship (sorry it's not great in the dark):

Check back throughout the week. I'll post some pretty funny staff Jib Jabb videos as well as a life celebration video that Rusty put together for the volunteers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You're gonna look like Santa

"You're gonna look like Santa"
I don't know if I've just been paying more attention lately or if my kids have just been saying a lot of really funny stuff with great application to other areas of life.

Trust me, there was a back story to how we got to this place in the conversation but I'll fast forward to the good part:

Me: When people get older they stop growing taller.
Josie: (Blank and slightly concerned look)...You mean you're not growing anymore?
Me: Well...not taller just fatter (I patted my belly)...That's how adults grow.
Josie: (laughing hysterically. She has a contagious laugh)
Josie: (Still laughing)...Yeah daddy you love cookies and sweets Just like Santa Clause. If you keep eating them you're probably gonna look like Santa.
Me: (laughing hysterically and thinking to my self--that's not really funny because she might be right:-)

*I ate at least three cookies later that night!*

Hear me out...
Since my early days in full time ministry as a 22 or 23 year old I've been passionate about this idea of "who we are becoming as people." That passion drove me deep into discipleship relationships through the years. I pursue discipleship for myself and others consistently. For me it's not just about a transfer of facts though. It's about a transfer of your life. It's follow me as I follow Jesus. It's do, what I am doing so you can become what I am becoming. It challenges the mentor as much as the one being mentored. So my variation on Josie's words is this, "If you keep doing what you are doing who will you end up looking like?" Who is mentoring you? Who are you mentoring? This isn't just for pastors. It's for Christians. It's for Jesus followers. Go buy a copy of "Mentor Like Jesus" by Regi Cambell and begin the journey. The premise of the book is this "More time, spent with fewer people, equals greater kingdom impact." Sounds kind of like what Jesus did huh? Find a mentor or become a mentor or do both!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spreading Christmas Cheer Elf style!

New Christmas series called "The Nights Before Christmas" started today at Ridge Church. We had a little "Code of the elf" intro leading into a pretty sweet opener from the band (led by Josh Via). My phone camera isn't great in low light but you'll get the idea. Really fun day. Awesome message from Andy Stanley. Great Hot Chocolate...and an awesome Christmas tree lot--stage set! Truthfully our church is way better than sleeping in. (for adults and kids!)
Adult Worship Intro

I also snuck into upstreet (k-5th grade) today and snagged a few seconds of video on my phone. Amazing leadership both from staff and volunteers in that environment. It's totally interactive and creative. Our children are sponsoring a child named Erik in Kenya and had a Compassion and Christmas stage set in place. (*Remember--All this in a load in context*) Great job!
Upstreet Sneak Peek

Last but not least. I rolled into one of the Waumba Land environments (very creative and engaging for kids!). So cool to watch how much the kids enjoy being in there. Also, what a total blessing to have so many middle school and high school students serving in this ministry. Again, great staff and volunteer leadership.
Waumba Land Sneak Peek

Friday, December 4, 2009

How many grades did you fail?

[Recent car conversation with my 10 year old Son:]

Brayden: The thing I hate about school is that you have to go for 13 years.
Me: (laugh)...I know Brayden. That's messed up.
Me: Brayden guess how long I was in school.
Brayden: I don't know (his favorite response in life)
Me: Almost 20 years... (I'm counting college, grad school etc)
Long PAUSE...
Brayden: How many grades did you fail?
Me: (run off road a little bit from laughing)
Brayden: What's so funny?

Let's face it we are conditioned to think in terms of failure rather than progress. When something takes a long time we assume failure is involved rather than progress. What I know both from my personal experience with God and from the Bible is that God our heavenly Father is not in a hurry. Many times when people "finally" place their trust in Jesus after many years of life they can look back over their life and see various experiences and relationships that from the vantage point of "right now" were clearly God's activity. Strangely we often don't recognize God's activity in our life until we are looking back. Sometimes our failure is progress toward relationship with God. Sometimes our failure is God's process of moving us toward himself. Listen to Simmy's story it is so powerful. Thanks for your courage Simmy:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If something changed would you tell?

If something in your life changed significantly would you tell people?
We are so grateful that several people at Ridge Church who have and are experiencing awesome change in their lives [because of their relationship to Jesus first and his followers second]--have taken the next step to tell the rest of us. Meet Brittany (yes, another Brittany!). Some of you will hear her story and think that it sounds familiar because it is so much like your life. There's nothing like a personal relationship with Jesus. These people have discovered that truth and now they are courageously sharing it with each of us. Contact us if you want to learn more about a relationship with Jesus.

Check back tomorrow to hear Simmy's story!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You need to hear this story

Every follower of Jesus has a unique story of their journey to faith in Jesus. However it's always interesting to see the commonality in their stories as well. Those listening can often relate with what's being said because there are so many crossroads with our personal stories. We don't tell people what to say. These are their stories and they are powerful because of that fact. Our church exist to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus so experiencing these stories never gets old! Brittany, thanks for your courage to publicly acknowledge your faith in Jesus! I hope this inspires many others to do the same. (watch for more videos throughout the week)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"All up in my business"

[Tomorrow I will begin uploading videos from last Sunday--so stay tuned]

One of my daughters was sitting on the floor and we will say she "gently:-)" pushed our dog (Samson) out of her lap. My son kind of scolded her as only big brothers can do and she promptly responded, "Well, he was all up in my business." To her credit he is a total space invader with chronic bad breath. I bet you know someone at work or school that's like my dog if you know what I mean.

Leaders and wanna be's listen up. When it comes to my leadership and your leadership you and I both need someone to be "all up in our business". None of us are good enough to do this alone. We all have blind spots and we are incapable of getting better without some one shaping us. What are you doing to grow as a leader? Who has permission to address your blind spots? Do you have people in your life that love you but aren't too impressed with you to tell you the truth?

Here is a good 11 minute leadership blurb/review--that may or may not get all up in your business but it might be a start. Be careful...he's kind of free with his language but unpacks some great leadership nuggets:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Should the church celebrate or not?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY yes the church should celebrate. In fact we should be the best people in our city at celebrating. Here is the hang up--as "the church--meaning local gatherings of believers" our achilles heel hasn't been that we don't celebrate it's been what we choose to celebrate.

At Ridge Church we don't have this figured out by any stretch of the imagination but we do talk a lot and work hard to keep this awesome church focused on celebrating the right things. This past Sunday was a perfect example and I'm so proud of the team of staff and volunteers that make it all happen. I believe we publicly celebrated the two most important things we can do as a church. I'll be posting examples of this through out the week but I'll start with a little video reflection of our recent "NOW Project". Be sure to check back in the upcoming days to see more specific examples of what and how we are learning to celebrate at Ridge!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why are Christians so judgmental?

We will finish up this four part series on judging others this week and it's been phenomenal. I can't count how many times in the last few weeks as I have talked with people from Ridge where the conversation has quickly turned back to the powerful impact this series is having on them. It is true for me too! My wife and I have been affirmed in some areas and significantly challenged in others. Andy Stanley has handled this difficult subject of when, if ever, should we judge others and he has done it with more clarity, authority, and biblical accuracy than I've ever experienced. It is a MUST hear!

Every talk has been extremely powerful but I absolutely love the way he closed part two. He talked about the importance of "self examination" before pointing out the flaws of others then he said, "If you are feeling energy or excitement around this idea of confronting someone then you aren't ready to confront. The sign that we are ready to confront someone is when we are truly heart broken over their situation or activity." WOW! If we as the church could take steps toward this--how different would the response of people outside the church be toward the church? I'd love to find out. I want us to be that kind of church.

Here they are. Go listen to them, then do whatever it takes to come with a friend in tow as we conclude this series on Sunday! Don't forget that those of you who love Ridge Church are still the best advertisement for us. If this church is impacting your life--tell people--bring people!

Listen Judgment Call 1 HERE

Listen Judgment Call 2 HERE

Listen Judgment Call 3 HERE

Saturday, November 7, 2009

just a glimpse of God (Video)

Today Ridge Church invested themselves in something that we know to be close to the heart of God...something much bigger than us. I'll share the specifics later but I was amazed at the extreme generosity demonstrated by this community of people for brothers and sisters in need. We helped feed and give winter clothes to over 250 homeless men, women, and children and made HUGE donations to the Men's Shelter in Uptown Charlotte. Our single message to them was "You are not forgotten". Children colored and decorated lunch bags that said this...the winter survival kits had this printed on them and one of our community groups even printed shirts with this message--just for the day. It was an amazing demonstration of what the church is capable of when they come together. Again, I'll share more specifics and highlights later, but until then here is a little video from the day:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Generosity in motion

I'm super excited about Nov 7th--the NOW project. I'm overwhelmed with the way(s) people have responded to the vision we have shared about blessing the people in our community in practical ways. In a time when most people are closing their hands more tightly than ever the "Ridge Church Community" has displayed overwhelming generosity and amazing creativity. People have given huge amounts of time, planning, organization, and resources to this opportunity. I am proud to be associated with YOU!
  • 8:30-10:30 Ridge Office--Decorating bags, Packing lunches, loading the trucks
  • 11:30-1:30 Woodies Auto Service Parking lot (Uptown)--Delivering winter survival kits, coats, blankets, lunches, etc

Monday, November 2, 2009

NOW project Sign-up

Now Project:

Sunday was a great day at Ridge. The foyer was slammed with winter survival kits, coats, and canned goods. Easily over $1o,ooo worth of stuff has already been donated and much more has been promised. It seemed like almost every person came in carrying multiple bags of stuff. You can totally sense the excitement and anticipation. You can still give money, collect goods, or bring winter survival kits until Friday morning!

Saturday, November 7th is the big day. For more information on the event or to sign up to serve click the image below and submit the attached form. We want this to be a great volunteer experience so be sure to let us know if you are planning to attend. We will send out directions to the up town project on Thursday. Thanks for making a difference!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NOW project shopping (videos)

If you are a parent or maybe a rare self aware child or teenager then you know that we don't have to teach children to be self absorbed or comes naturally. We do however have to teach them how to be generous and to think of others. But once they "get it" they typically outpace the grown ups! The Now Project is a great opportunity not only to bless people in need but to teach our children that God intends for them to be a solution! My children have really enjoyed the process so far.

Brown's Go "NOW Project" Shopping Part 1:
What to buy?

Brown's Go "NOW Project" Shopping Part 2:
How to make it fit in the bag?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sucker punch from the pastor

I could literally feel the tension in the building this weekend at Ridge Church. It was thick! We finished up part two of the "NOW" series (click HERE to listen) and I believe it will be a day that people will remember and be marked by.

The question we were asking: "What is it in us or in our culture that allows us to see extreme need or hurt, YET give ourselves permission not to be part of the solution?"

I contacted a friend that most people at our church wouldn't know and asked him to dress up as a homeless man and stand on the corner right in the middle of our church signs and just see how people would respond. Some pretended not to see him, some drove past as their husband or wife encouraged them to stop. Others inconvenienced themselves and made it their #1 priority to help him. We intentionally did not tell anyone--even our leaders--so that every one could feel the moment. One of our host team captains spent the better part of the worship service hunting for him to give him a bag of supplies. Not sure it was funny to him at the moment:-) the end of both worship services as we prepared to close I said I want to introduce you to a friend of mine and brought him out on the stage for a two minute interview. The minute he stepped onto the stage in both services an anxious murmur went through the crowd. It was a collective "Oh my..." moment. Kind of a sucker punch, I'll admit! My wife said the man next to her put his head in his hands, smiled and said "Oh, wife told me to stop and I wouldn't do it." As it turns out he wasn't the only one. The stories have been coming in for two days now of what people experienced. Some really funny responses and some pretty sobering ones.

Truthfully, when we as people have the capacity to help yet give ourselves permission not to be part of the solution there is something about our heavenly Father that we have grossly misunderstood. I am praying that God would begin a revolution of generosity among our people and believe it is happening. Want to be a part? Here are four ways to help:

1) Donate Money: We are attempting to raise $10,000 to meet the needs of people in extreme poverty in our city. 100% of the proceeds go directly to provide for families and people in need. Every dollar makes a difference. Simply Write "Now Project" in the memo line and Send checks to:
Ridge Church
P.O. Box 1853

Indian Trail, N.C. 28079

2) Fill a "Winter Survival Bag": More about that in my post HERE. We want to give out at least 200 winter survival bags to people preparing to spend the winter on the streets. (I really think we can give out 300! We ran out of bags last week)

3) Collect in your neighborhood: We have bundles of door hangers with all the appropriate information for you to do a collection in your neighborhood. Even if you can't give a ton of $$ you can give your time to involving others in this process. If you would like a stack of these door hangers email your request to us:

4.) Sign up to Serve: November 7th we have three phases of the actual "NOW Project". That morning we will decorate and pack at least 200 lunches (hopefully more) and finish organizing our supplies. Mid-day we will distribute lunches, survival packs, coats, etc to the homeless in down town Charlotte. Afternoon our community groups will deliver groceries, clothes, etc to 10 families in Matthews Area. Send an email to and say "Sign me up" or sign up at the Guest Services area on Sunday morning and one of our project managers will contact you with more details.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Project Now...revolution of generosity!

Project Now:

"We want to give a lot of time and a lot of resources to people that can't pay us back and may never attend our church...for God's glory."

Ready, set, GIVE and GO! We officially started the collection process for the Now Project. The project itself which will include the delivery of all of the items that we collect will be on November 7th. The project itself will have two components. On that morning we will be giving away what we are calling "winter survival kits" bag lunches, coats, and blankets to the homeless community of downtown Charlotte. Later that afternoon we will provide for the needs of at least 10 families in the Matthews/Stallings area that have landed in a situation that has rendered them incapable of providing basic needs for their families.

Our basic message: We want to remind people that God has not forgotten them! (Isaiah 49:16)

Our God sized-ridiculous generosity-Goals:
  • 200 winter survival kits
  • 200 bag lunches
  • 50 bags of groceries
  • $10,000 to meet the needs of local families (including electricity bills, food, clothes etc)
Here are the a few pics of the bags with attached lists that you can pick up at Ridge to fill up! (one to the right has what not to pack in your bag:-) Make this a family effort!! Make sure to involve your children in this process. Be intentional to let them know that this is one simple way that we can remind people that God hasn't forgotten them even though life is sometimes hard!!

Chasing Dreams with no view

At Ridge Church this weekend we officially kicked off a new series called "NOW." We just finished a series where we discovered that we are in fact "rich." People in our country, even the poorest among us, typically rank in the top 4% of the worlds wealth. Pretty staggering and sobering thought. "NOW" is a follow up series talking about what we should do right now in response to that truth. I can't wait for next week!

It was a great kick off to the series. You can listen to part one HERE. We discussed this idea of chasing dreams--only to find out that they don't have a view! Also, I will talk more in my next post about the amazing event this series is building up to called the "Now Project". I am more excited about this series and project than anything we have done yet as a church.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NOW (part 1): Chasing Dreams

NOW (part 1) Chasing Dreams:
If you have ever worked hard, dreamed big, studied relentlessly, or fought for a relationship and still found yourself unsatisfied with the results you are not alone. Chasing dreams is tricky business. But the truth is every person organizes their life around something. The question is what...or who? Maybe it's your family? Maybe it's the pursuit of success? Maybe it's a career? Maybe it's education? Maybe it's the pursuit of wealth? But are we organizing our lives around the things that matter the most and last the longest? Join us this week at Ridge Church as we invite you to take a look at the frustrating nature of chasing dreams and plans that never seem to satisfy us as well as the alternative that does.

**Also, we will officially kick off the collection process for the much anticipated "Now Project" that this series is leading up to on November 7th. These are very exciting days at Ridge. Don't miss out. See you at 9am or 11am.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Now Project: First official donation!

Project Now Goal: “We want to give a lot of time and money (resources) to people that can’t pay us back and may never attend our church…for God’s Glory!”

I talked about "project now" for the first time in last weeks 9am and 11am services. By November 7th we will mobilize as many people as possible and raising as much $$ as possible to serve in two community projects--One in Matthews and one in Uptown Charlotte. "One day--Two Events--For God's Glory!!"

First official Donation:
I'm stoked about this project so it comes out quickly in my conversations. Today I bumped into my friend Chris at Starbucks (the place where the world comes together). He asked me what I was doing..."working on Project now", I told him. Obviously an explanation followed. One of many initiatives is this idea of "winter survival kits" with blankets, coats, toiletries etc for people in crisis or without homes downtown. (I hope we provide hundreds of these!) Chris's eyes lifted and he said "Hey can I make a donation?" Two minutes later he came over with these awesome, comfy, warm, brand new blankets. I'm so excited about this revolution of generosity that is about to begin...AND by the way---my friend Chris has only been to Ridge Church once and he gave first. I love it! Who will be next. Cut a check. Make a donation. Commit your time. You'll never regret it.

Don't miss Sunday as I cast more vision about Project Now. It's going to be unbelievable!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just 1 more reason I love my job

I love my job because it is so much more than a job! It's an adventure. We are engaging a movement that began over 2000 years ago. The closer you get to that movement the more radical the adventure becomes.

I have been challenging my staff team to ask and re-ask the question lately "How do we define success?" Is it many people came...enough money to pay the bills and bless people? Is it excellence? Is it great, clean, helpful, content and environments? Is it relevance? Is it dispensing Bible facts? What is success? I may unfold the four or five questions that have become our filter for success later but for now I just want to highlight one that we are chasing after and still working to craft. It is still an evolving process for us:

We are asking the question "Did we invite people to experience the undeniable presence of God?" We are okay if people walk away mentally arguing with the message content from time to time but we aren't okay with people not experiencing the love, power, peace, hope, healing, even conviction that come with the presence of God. But that feels some what intangible...right? That's why we say "did we invite..." We can't force this one but we can invite it and create an expectation and anticipation in people.

Experiencing God:

...powerful few moments in worship this past week as Adam Wilson, who I have come to love as a worship leader (great combo of talent and humility), lead the song "Lift High". I can't speak for every person in the room but I know that I personally experienced the presence of God...just one more reason I love my job!

Adam Wilson, Lift High from Rusty Burchard on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

lame video footage--great moment!

We are in a teaching series at Ridge Church right now called "How to be Rich" and it is simply amazing. Go here to listen online. Last year a bunch of people from Ridge went to Drive which is a conference our partner church North Point hosts each year. Joel Thomas did an amazing session where he talked about creating memorable experiences. He framed it in a way I had never thought about but we now say it this way at Ridge Church all the time. He said, "the thing that makes stuff memorable is when it is unexpected." He's right! People will talk about the thing that happened that they didn't expect (good or bad:-). We work hard to create unexpected and therefore memorable moments at Ridge. Here is one example of an idea Rusty Burchard pulled off (much better live because my camera/video footage is lame). You'll get the idea...Cash from the ceiling in the middle of Beverly Hills by Weezer. Pretty creative. Very fun. Definitely memorable...(and all this in a load in environment!) Don't miss next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Now Project: God cares more about our city than we do!

Well this is just a teaser. All you get for now is the fact I believe the "NOW Project" (coming November 7) will be one of the best and most significant things we have done as a church. I'll formally introduce the idea for the first time in our 9am and 11am services this weekend. We believe that God loves our city far more than we do and this is going to be an opportunity to show it in practical ways. Interested? I'll share more this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ladder ball crazy finish (video)

We have such a fun volunteer culture at Ridge Church. The Upstreet leadership team had a cookout and "tailgate" party at our house recently. The ladder ball and corn hole competitions were pretty intense. The grand finale was a highlight moment for the ages. My neighbors probably think we are crazy. Patrick snagged some footage on his phone. Pretty funny!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great day at Ridge! (large group pics)

We kicked off both services with the song "If I had a million dollars" and John and Adam did a great job with it. They were better than the orginal for sure...and pretty funny too! There is such a buzz of excitement around Ridge Church right now. Upstreet, and Waumba are doing an amazing job and student impact has had an amazing start as well. Keep spreading the word. Here are a few pics from the day. I'll have to post a student impact environment pic later:

Adult Worship 11am Service

Waumba Large Group (worship time)

Upstreet Large Group (worship time)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wanna be Rich?

Interested in being rich? You might be surprised by what we discover about this subject in our brand new series at Ridge Church called "How to be Rich." Life changing concepts!

Our 11am service is almost full but we have room to grow at 9am. If you can choose to attend that service please do. We want to keep creating space at optimal hours. So if you are kid-free at this season in your life or if you have teenagers (teenagers have their own service at 9am) come worship with us at 9am this week. Ridge Volunteers don't forget to take advantage of this new opportunity to "Serve one and Attend one." You can actually invite someone to visit AND sit with them in the service!

Last thing...if you roll in at 9:10 or 11:10 we will still love you but you will miss a really fun opener from the Ridge band! I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Group link over capacity!

Group Link Review:
I wanted to give a quick review of Group Link from this past weekend. Just for reference, Group Link is our event designed to give people a platform to meet others interested in groups. This event takes place in a neutral setting and people have the opportunity to walk away from the night in what we call an eight week "formational group". These groups typically turn into groups that commit to meet together regularly for extended periods of time.

We only do this event two times a year and it is currently the only way to become part of a group at Ridge Church. We had several groups coming back to add to their groups or multiply into new groups. When it was all said and done we formed "eight" new groups in addition to the other groups currently meeting. For the first time in our short history as a church we actually had so many people attend that we had to figure out a way to add the "ninth" new group after the event.

We love group life around here and we are really excited when people jump in and get involved because so much life change happens and is sustained in this setting. Thanks to all that participated in some way!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One of my favorite Sundays!

We just celebrated one year of Ridge Church meeting every Sunday morning and it was "One of my favorite Sundays yet." It's amazing to watch our staff and volunteers at work. They are so good at what they do. They are full of passion. AND they get better and better.

You can go HERE to listen and catch up on the day "Our Sunday Best". It was a day of vision. We celebrated the past and dreamed for the future. I'm pretty pumped about this fall. God is definitely stirring some things up in and through this Ridge Church community.

Some of you really missed out! Sunday only--only for people in either our 9am or 11am worship service we gave out free t-shirts in honor of our birthday. Every adult and child got one. It's was really fun to watch. I've already seen multiple people wearing them this week.

Reflections and more about group link later...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creating potential for community

Truth: The church cannot technically create community! BUT--What we can and should do is create the potential for community. That is exactly why we do groups the way that we do at Ridge Church. We work hard, pray hard, plan hard, and think smart when it comes to the best way to structure groups. We are constantly learning and re-evaluating "how" we structure small groups so that they have the greatest potential to create great relationships and great community.

We literally have amazing things happening in all of our groups! And this next season of groups will unveil the best "potential yet." For us (Ridge Church) it never has been and never will be all about what happens on Sunday or the weekend. Creating the greatest potential for "community" to happen is the best thing and most important thing we do for believers.

Go ahead and take the next step. Sign up to participate in Group Link Sunday, Sep 13th @6PM. Group Link is an event designed to allow people to meet in a non threatening environment, learn how groups operate, and walk away from the night in a group if they choose to. Sign Up Here!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sippin' from the Hydrant

Sippin' from the Hydrant:
Imagine standing in front of a fire hydrant as the full force of the water is released. Got a visual? Now imagine trying to drink it in. Eye lids are flipped back, you are drenched, and it is a tiny bit overwhelming even if you are thirsty beyond measure.

That is a fairly accurate description of what I've been experiencing today and yesterday in the midst of this time of fasting, prayer, and Scripture study that many of us from Ridge Church are participating in. One of my specific prayers is that God would speak to me very clearly and draw me close and it's been pretty overwhelming. It will take me weeks to process and unpack what God is doing in me and saying to me. In no certain order here are a few unfiltered thoughts, ideas, prayers, and quotes:

  • Prov. 2:2-5 Following Jesus is active not passive. It's not a spectator sport. We involve ourselves and apply ourselves and the flurry of spiritual activity becomes obvious and apparent. How active are we in our pursuit of Jesus? Just showing up on Sunday isn't enough. Sorry to disappoint if that was your plan!
  • (Going to memorize this) Prov. 2:8 "[the LORD] guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones"
  • We [Ridge Church] exist because God wants us to (I am so confident of that!!!). I'm praying that we exist the way he wants us to. Without a doubt God gave me this prayer!
  • I want the people of this great city to experience the unexplainable yet un-deniable presence of God. I want that to be the norm for Ridge Church.
  • We ask a lot of great questions as a church. Today this simple question has my brain spinning in circles. "What are the questions that we as a church are not asking...but should be asking?"
I couldn't be more excited about what God is revealing to me and how I have personally experienced him in these days. Vision is overwhelming me. Be active in your pursuit of him! That's all for now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We are addicted to food! Hungry?

This is a longer post than usual for me. Jump down to "Inside my head and journal" if you already kind of get what fasting is about or don't care what fasting is about:-)

Fasting--Quick Explanation
Depending on your religious background or lack of religious background the idea of "fasting" may seem like some weird practice of religious fanatics...but it is available and encouraged for all followers of Jesus not just the "professionals." Truthfully fasting is much like prayer or consistent Bible study. It is a habit or discipline that has spiritual implication. It isn't a "box" that we check off in order to be accepted or approved by God. At the risk of over simplifying it....fasting, like other Christian disciplines isn't about God loving or accepting us more. It is about opening ourselves up to receive his love and love him more. It stretches our spiritual capacity! It is a proclamation of our dependence on Jesus and desire for him. (that's a very simplified explanation of fasting!)

How does it work?
Now...with that as the backdrop, a group of people at Ridge Church are fasting for 10 days. Some people are fasting meats and eating vegetables only. Some are fasting dessert, or technology, or lunch only. Some are fasting all foods and only consuming liquids. We are reading through Acts 1-10 and Proverbs 31, and 1-9 and journaling our thoughts. We use moments of hunger as promptings to remember to pray. We use some of our normal meals times as prayer moments or times to study Scripture. We are saying in essence "God we are dependent upon you more that food and we want to hunger for you like we hunger for food."

Fasting for What?
The Bible teaches that there are many possible situations where fasting is appropriate. In this particular fast we are praying about two things:
  1. That (individually and as a church) we will be spiritually hungry. Driven for God like we are driven for food.
  2. That God will bring Glory to himself through Ridge Church. We want to be a platform on which he stands in this city. We want his presence to be undeniable among us. We want to dispense his love without limit.
Inside my head and My Journal:
(these are my thoughts and some journal entries from prayer, Scripture reading, and some books I'm reading during this time of fasting)
  • Proverbs 1:5 Wise people learn to listen. It is much easier for me personally to look for stuff to do than to listen to God.
  • Acts 2:7,12,13 I noticed three responses to an "outpouring" of God's Spirit and presence among the people:
  1. People were "utterly amazed"
  2. People were "amazed and perplexed"
  3. Some made fun
  4. Interestingly: No one ignored it!!
  • "I feel like I am beginning to catch glimpses/mental snapshots of where all of this (Ridge Church) is going" That's exciting for me. The whole thing started just like this!
  • Acts 2:37 When people were faced with the truth about who Jesus is they had two responses
  1. They were cut to the heart. It bothered them that they had missed it...missed him...crucified him.
  2. They begin to ask "what now?" In light of this new truth they knew they must ACT
  • "Yesterday's victories do not guarantee tomorrow's successes." -E.Towns
  • Revival is the Latin term for "return to life." Praying for revival is prayer for life!
  • Much of what we do in life is a response to the way we see ourselves
  • Vision: "You can't achieve what you can't conceive" -unknown
That is all for now. I pray that God will awaken you to himself!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time for two,two,two...

Don't forget that we are back to 2 services this weekend at Ridge Church. We've been praying, planning, and preparing for this day for months. The two service times are 9am and 11am. We are kicking off two brand new elements along with all the great stuff that is already happening:
  1. Full Student Ministry Environment: During the 9am service we will now have a service specifically designed for middle school and high school students. It opens at 8:45am for students to come hang out. Student Facebook Group HERE.
  2. Waumba Large Group Environment: During the 11am service we are adding a new Waumba Large Group environment for the older pre-school children. There will be story tellers, worship and tons of excitement all in a really cool environment. The kids will love it.
With school just starting this is a great time to invite people to join you at church. For all of our awesome volunteers you'll be able to Attend one service and Serve one. This way people you invite can sit with you! Spread the word.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How to get in a group

I know there are a lot of new folks to Ridge that want to get into a community group (or small group) but aren't sure how to go about it. We have a really simple process to help people meet and form a group and currently it is the only way to form a group or get into a group at Ridge Church. We want to make sure that all of our groups provide a similar experience in terms of content, childcare, length of meetings etc. If you have yet to experience a group at Ridge then you haven't experienced the best and most important thing that we do.

Group Link
So how do I get in a group? It is called Group Link!! Group Link is an hour and a half event that happens two times a year and the next one is September 13th, 6pm at the Levine Center in Matthews. We provide dessert and make child care reimbursement available so that adults can connect with each other and have distraction free conversations.

It is a tremendous help to us as we prepare for group link if people will pre-register online. Group Link IS NOT a full commitment to groups. It is a time where you can literally "kick the tires" and meet a few people with the possibility of forming a starter group at the end of the night.

Go HERE to sign up!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New t-shirts available

I love the new Ridge t-shirts! They look really good and they are really comfortable material. I just wanted to give you all a heads up that they will be available this Sunday. If you pre-ordered shirts those will be available too. We are making a big push to have as many volunteers as possible wear these shirts on August 30th as we move back to two services.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday Recap

The Music
Great day of connecting with God through song and sermon. I know worship is more about our hearts than a specific song but there are some songs that for me personally seem to help me connect and focus easier. Here is the set from yesterday:
  • "Big" by planetshakers. It's kind of the theme song for this series
  • "Glory to God" by Steve Fee
  • "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong
  • Closer-- "We need each other" by Sanctus Real
It was both worshipful and fun. Josh and the guys really nailed the closer by Sanctus Real. It was a perfect ending to Andy's talk on Providential Relationships. Go HERE if you missed the talk. It's phenomenal.

The after party
Right after the service we switched out all the environments while everyone ate lunch and prepared for our once a year "all skate" volunteer training. Not sure the exact count but someone told me we had close to 65 people in all the various areas. About 10 more showed up Sunday night for the student ministry training. Thanks for stepping up to partner with this mission!

This fall is going to be full of life change! Don't watch from the sidelines. Get involved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fall and Funding

I'm so excited about this fall. Ridge Church is going big and it's just around the corner-- August 30th! Here's a snapshot of what's in the works for that day.

1) Student Environment Opens!
I couldn’t be more excited about adding a relevant and rockin’ environment for middle school and high school students. This has been a big missing link for us until now. I was committed to saying no to starting this ministry until I thought we could knock it out of the park. I gave a decade of my life to serving students because I’m passionate about teens. I want our church to platform these teenagers to be world changers!

2)Waumba Large Group Kicks off!
Waumba is adding a full large group environment with songs and an interactive story time that will enable the group leaders to focus on applying the lesson in small groups and loving kids like crazy. Trust me, you will be proud to invite your friends to bring their kids to experience this. And kids will definitely want to come back! Both of those are huge deals.

3)We launch back into two worship services 9am and 11am!
Our volunteers are so committed and so good and I’m stoked that they can now "serve one and attend one” which is exactly what we are encouraging. Some of our best inviters are often unable to invite because they are serving else where and don’t want their friends to sit alone. Not any more!

Life change always has to be funded and I'm excited to invite you to be an ongoing part of that. Once every two months I give a financial summary on my blog, in our worship guide, and in our evite. Below is a snapshot comparison of our last three months. Your sacrifice and generosity absolutely makes a difference! If you were to ask the three adults that were baptized on Father's day they would tell you just how much it matters! Your generosity is enabling life change. Summer is usually tough on giving and we closed out July behind so jump in and help out where you can. Go HERE to give online. Click on the image to enlarge it:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Out of blog hibernation

I took a "technological sabbath" of sorts for nearly 10 days. No twitter, no facebooks updates, no blogs, no texting. I think I checked emails three times. It's amazing how much time this generation gives to this stuff. (that is an amoral statement by the way) I had just finished up a three part series, and group retreat then headed off for vacation with my family. It was incredibly refreshing and a great reminder that what I do in my 9-5 will never be the most important role I play. Even as a pastor!

Organizational Culture:
Here is a quote from Netflix Company about organizational culture that a friend passed along to me. Very good stuff that has my brain evaluating and working in overdrive:

"The real company values as opposed to the nice-sounding values are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go" other words the real values aren't on the walls or on the website they are in embedded in the behavior and practices of an organization. Good stuff. Good Reminder.

Five Things:
Here is a picture from our new series called "Five Things God uses to Grow your faith." GREAT series. The opener this week will be sweeeeeeet!:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leadership like no other

In Sticky by Design (part 2) [Listen HERE] we talked about one of the secret ingredients to the stuff that sticks. Jesus was a leader like no other. He clearly and frequently demonstrated to his followers that he had both authority and power yet he never used his authority and power the way others did. He didn't use it to promote himself, or to acquire wealth, or to make a name for himself. He made a radical, even revolutionary decision to use every resource available to him to serve people rather than be served. Jesus was and is a leader like no other! One worthy of our hearts and surrender.

Below are a couple of pics from the day. We talked about "the living room" so we created one on stage. Super fun day. Fun game show and unbelievable worship. Phenomenal response from folks as they crowded the foyer signing up for areas of service at Ridge. Many new people signed up to serve! We are gearing up for a mind blowing fall. If you missed your opportunity to sign up for strategic service GO HERE to sign up on line.
We are better together than we are apart!:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's your favorite movie quote? (winner takes all!)

Favorite movie quote:

"Sticky by Design" part three coming up and we are doing our third and final game show on stage this week. The winner of this contest will be offered the opportunity to be the stage contestant and possibly win some "sticky fingers stuff." Here is how it works. Go onto the Ridge Facebook Fan Page HERE. (or in the bar to the right if you are on my blog) Post your favorite movie quote and then get as many of your facebook friends as possible to click the little "thumbs up/I like" icon. The person who's quote gets the most thumbs up will have first chance at being part of the Sticky by Design game show this weekend. Both weeks have been really fun!

Not my absolute favorite, I'm reserving that one for Sunday but definitely in my top three favorite quotes. From Tommy Boy:

Tommy: [Tommy and Richard are sitting on a park bench after getting kicked out of Salinsky's headquarters] I thought they were on my side.
Richard Hayden: They figured they had something to gain if the factory was being closed.
Tommy: Boy this is the worst. My so called family deserts me. Michelle's mad at me. I've lost the factory, the town's going under and I'm out of a job.
[the park bench collapses]
Tommy: Could've done without that.