The Gospel is Good News!

At Restoration Church, we believe the gospel changes everything! We want to keep the good news of Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do. With this said, I would like share a thought I read the other day.

This is taken from the book God is the Gospel by John Piper:

“TO BE A CHRISTIAN IS TO embrace the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. This good news is the heart of Christianity. But what do we mean by “the gospel”? And why is the gospel “good news”? Too few Christians stop to reflect on these crucial questions.

Those who do seek to answer these questions might say something like this: “Being saved from hell makes the gospel good news. Freedom from a guilty conscience makes the gospel good news. Forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life make the gospel good news.” And all of these are indeed good gifts of the gospel. Without forgiveness we would be forced to bear our own sins. Without justification we would be forced to provide our own righteousness. Without eternal life we would suffer eternal death. But these blessings simply raise the question again: Why are these gospel blessings “good”?

Thankfully, we do not have to speculate on the ultimate good of the gospel. The Bible is clear: the gospel is good news because it brings us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Or, to say it another way, God is the gospel.

If the gospel does not lead us to God as our all-sufficient and everlasting treasure, then, whatever else the gospel may be, it is not good news. Sadly, many people have believed in a truncated version of the gospel that leads them to enjoy God’s gifts without being satisfied in the Giver. And if we have embraced the gospel for its many gifts without delighting in God himself in and above all of these gifts, have we genuinely embraced the gospel?”

The gospel is the good news that the only true God, the just and gracious creator of the universe, has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent his Son (Jesus), God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin through his substitutionary death on the cross, and to show his power over sin and death in the resurrection from the grave, so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever. – International Mission Board

My prayer is that the gospel will lead us to treasure and love God with all our heart, soul, and might and to love people as God loves us!

Small Groups in 2017 and beyond

Christ’s command to “make disciples” is at the center of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). At Restoration Church, we believe that every disciple is a disciple maker. This means disciple making is foundational for every member at our church.

As a leader of small group ministry, my hope and prayer each and every year is that each small group will:

  • witness at least one person come to know Christ this year.
  • plant one new small group by the end of the year.

I do NOT look at these as ministry goals, however. Rather, these are expressions of Christ’s command to “make disciples.”

The Word of God is clear. The command to make disciples extends to all believers. Everyone in the church is necessary for any disciple to grow to maturity in Christ. Not everyone will play the same role in the disciple-making process, but everyone in church plays a part. This means that you and I do not sit on the sideline when it comes to making disciples. We all play a huge part in the Great Commission.

I am asking every leader and member of a small group to pray with me this prayer about witnessing and planting new groups. As we pray for these things, I fully believe that God will begin to transform our heart and desire. I believe He will cross our paths with people we can share Christ with.

I am not saying this will be comfortable or easy, However, I do believe that as we pray and see God work in and through us, it will be a joyous experience that we long to experience over and over again. Our relationship with Jesus will rub off on those in our groups and those in the church. And by God’s grace, we will begin to see a multiplying of disciples here and to the ends of the earth. As we begin to see disciples made, the natural by-product will be a multiplication of small groups. We will begin to send people out to start new small groups that reach new areas of our neighborhoods and cities. We will begin to see more worshippers of Jesus that love God and love people!

As we pray and believe, may God, who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, be the glorified in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen!

Back in 2017

We are in 2017 now! It has been a drastically long time since I have blogged. I have been absent for a while due to laziness and having a new addition to my family. Back in May 2016, my wife and I had our first child. The Lord blessed us with a little girl. The past 8 months have been a blur, to say the least.

There have been sleepless nights, many whiny days, but many many more great and amazing moments! Our little girl is now crawling. She is saying, “da da” unintentionally, but it still counts (right?!). Here is our happy family during Halloween this past year!

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I look forward to writing more on life, small groups, and Jesus in 2017!

 

Small Group Summer Fun

It is that time of the year! The sun is out, the pool is open, the parks are packed, and it is a great time to enjoy the weather. As Restoration Church small groups lighten the schedule for the summer time, we want to encourage you to make the most of the time you do spend with your small group. Here are 5 ways to live on mission with your small group this summer.

  • Cookouts. It’s time to uncover that grill and get to grubbing. Everyone enjoys eating a good meal with friends. Many neighborhoods and apartment complexes have a pool. Plan a day or a few days this summer to go to the pool and grill out with your small group. But don’t stop there. Invite friends and coworkers. This is a nonthreatening way to introduce people with gospel intentionality.
  • Movie Night. Have you seen the movie lineup coming out this summer? If you haven’t, you should check it out. Whether it is a movie that is coming out or that has already come out, you can get together with your group members and spend time watching a movie, enjoying popcorn, and getting to know each other. Don’t forget to invite other friends and coworkers.
  • Park Days. Going to a park such as Joyner, Fletcher, etc. is a good opportunity to fellowship together. Maybe you bring lunch and just enjoy the weather. Maybe you like to play corn hole, kan-jam, spike ball. Maybe you like to throw football, Frisbee, etc. Going to the park is good way to have fun together, but it’s also another way to bring other friends and coworkers into your small group environment.
  • Helping the Neighbors. Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean housework and yard work stop (if only)! Help your neighbor by offering to mow the grass or water the flowers. A lot of people like to vacation during the spring and summer season, so as you talk with your neighbors find out if they are traveling and offer to help with the yard while they are gone.
  • Generous Living and Giving. Whatever you decide to do with your small group this summer, I pray that you do it with a generous heart. Be intentional in building relationships with those in your circle of influence. Don’t be afraid to invite people into your life. Don’t build relationships and be their friend just to get them to church, though. Be their genuine friend. And then as their friend, share what is most important to you.

Remember, every believer is on a mission. Whatever you do, do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God and do it well for the glory of God. What are some other ideas you have for living on mission with your small group this summer?

Why Small Groups

Small groups are seeing a lot of growth in this season of life at Restoration Church. People are sharing the gospel for the first time, encouraging and building up one another, and experiencing biblical community.

We say and believe at Restoration Church that discipleship happens in community. Small groups are the best environment to form life on life relationships with other followers of Jesus Christ. The model comes from the early church in the book of Acts. At the beginning of the church, in Acts 2, we read the believers devoted to the Word, prayer, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. This took place day by day in their homes. They shared life together. The goal for the early church was not just community, but also gospel-centered love as they pursued the mission of God. The early church existed to encourage one another in living on mission for God.

This is what we see our small groups doing: building community and sharing life together. One of the best reasons to follow this early church model is that it encourages and challenges us to be on mission for Jesus.

How does your small group experience compare to the early church account? What do you most enjoy about the picture of the early church? What do you most enjoy about your small group? You can comment below with your thoughts.

Serve ONE. Attend ONE.

This is an exciting season in the life of Restoration Church. We are moving from one worship gathering to two worship gathering on Sunday mornings. Change is an exciting and frightening thing. Change brings great opportunity. I am excited about the opportunity for our people to serve one worship gathering and attend one worship gathering each Sunday.

I want to share with you why I think this is a good thing.

As Christians, we are called to worship God and God alone. Our worship of God overflows into how we love and serve each other. Sunday we gather as a body, and that is a special call to sit under the teaching of scripture, to encourage one another, and sing praises to God. These things happen every Sunday at Restoration. In the past, you might serve one Sunday and attend worship the next Sunday. But NOW you can serve one worship gathering and attend one worship gathering. This allows you to actively engage in a full worship gathering. When you serve one worship gathering and attend one worship gathering, you are giving time out of your Sunday to sit at the feet of our brothers and sisters (those attending).

This is part of your discipleship. As you give up your time, you are reminding yourself each week that you are to abide in Christ and through abiding you are to give your life to other people. Serving on Sunday is a training ground for serving out of being full in Christ.

There are many other reasons I am excited about being able to serve one service and attend the other. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Kids will have more consistency with the same teachers and helpers, which allows them to be comfortable and have a better learning environment.
  • Our guests will see consistent faces each hour. Coming to a new place is not easy. It is helpful to see the same person holding that door or pointing you to a parking place because it gives you the sense that this is a place where you can belong and be known.
  • Our guests will always have someone ready to greet them. We are in an area with a lot of families. Sometimes showing up late is a blessing. Even if our guest show up at late or at the wrong time, our whole team is there to care for them as God welcomes us with open arms.
  • You will make friends! Serving and spending time with your team during the worship gathering is a great way to be known and cared for at the church, in addition to your small group.
  • AGAIN…serving one and attending one opens up more seats for you to invite friends, family, coworkers, neighbors for the purpose of make disciples!

 

People are the mission

This past Sunday, we announced that at Easter we will have two gatherings on Sunday mornings at 9:00am and 10:30am. Why? God is so amazing, and every Sunday we are filled to the brim at our 10:30am gathering. We want to see God continue to grow the body so we are introducing another gathering at 9:00am starting March 20, 2016.

At Restoration Church, we believe God’s mission and our mission are inseparably linked. If God’s mission is to be glorified through the redemption and reconciliation of a people, the Church’s mission is the same thing (2 Cor. 5:18-20; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We do not want a larger gathering; we want more worshippers of Jesus.

In order to make disciples of Jesus, we must put people over preferences! This means we put the interest of others above our own interest. We wake up a little earlier to serve or attend the 9:00am worship gathering. We do what is inconvenient and impractical because we truly believe that people hearing the gospel and receiving God’s grace are more important. By laying down our own interest to serve others, we demonstrate that our joy is not in sleep and other earthly things, but in knowing and making much of Jesus. We long to see more people worship Jesus because He is the One who satisfies our souls.

As we seek to fulfill God’s mission, we must keep Christ central in all things. Having two worship gatherings is exciting because it means that God is growing the body. There are still many who are not reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. We want to continue to let the gospel change us from being selfish and self-centered to being God-centered, allowing us to say “Yes God, I will serve at 9:00am so more people can worship you” or “Yes God, I will attend at 9:00am so more people can worship you.”

John Piper says, “To love someone is to desire their greatest joy…We struggle with this because now on earth our thoughts and desires and motives are corrupted by sinful self-seeking, competitiveness, envy, jealousy, and resentment.” May we desire people’s greatest joy (Jesus) so much that we joyfully serve each other with humble hearts so that many might come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior in Wake Forest to the ends of the earth.

So why two gatherings? We do all this because God’s glory is worth the sacrifice, and people are the mission.