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.