Pastor B

Generation Church

Creating a Healthy Culture

Growing up in a dysfunctional culture seemed normal to me. I don’t know any of your backgrounds or family history; but mine was quite interesting. One thing I’ve noticed about people who grow up in unhealthy environments is that they are more than likely prone to live out that same unhealthy culture as adults. After all, that’s all they know. If you grow up in poverty, you’ll have a poverty mindset. If you grow up in a culture of divorce or addiction, many seem to repeat those patterns. It doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them, it just means your culture has to drastically change in order to do it.

 

Even in a classroom environment, culture can be the difference between tapping into a young child’s potential or destroy their confidence. Unhealthy learning environments have the potential to develop unhealthy habits and patterns in our lives. Have you ever seen a beautiful flower grow in a closet? It’s impossible due to the fact the environment or culture is absent for growth.

 

This is why we are focusing so hard on creating the right culture in our church. As a fast growing church plant, it can become really easy to simply focus on church growth. The problem is, if the culture is not healthy neither will the church be healthy. If we focus on vision and culture the church, as a result, will grow. This is true because:

 

Healthy things grow.

 

As we focus on our efforts to Work the Soil, it’s imperative that we understand that we are creating a culture either intentionally or unintentionally. Ask yourself a few questions today about culture:

 

What kind of culture am I creating among the people I lead?

 

Do you tend to show favoritism to the people you like? Do you allow sanctioned incompetence? (being late, not showing up, not doing their volunteer work with excellence, passion, and vision) Are YOU late constantly or not showing up? As we continue to dive into intentional culture, we have to remember that it will lead to healthy teams. And healthy teams will lead to a healthy church. A healthy church will grow.

 

 

Do I create a culture of developing people?

 

If we want people to love what they do, love the church, and love people, we have to raise their ceiling. In other words, once people get to a certain point where apathy sets in or they feel like their gifts and talents aren’t being stretched, they will leave for something better. You can’t grow a church with people who don’t want to be there. And if we want people to serve, give, connect, and be empowered then we have to raise their ceiling. Pour and invest in those that God has entrusted to you.

 

Am I empowering people?

 

Not simply giving them tasks to do, but actually allowing them to run with the ministry. The only way to lead at a high level is to let go of things that shouldn’t be your focus. The problem most of us face is that we think no one can do it like us. They may even be true, but someone else will never learn if they aren’t allowed to do it and fail. After all, were you perfect at what you do when you first started doing it? I didn’t think so. We don’t want to create a culture where people are afraid that they will fail. We want to create a culture where people aren’t afraid to learn. Remember, you’re either succeeding or learning. Failure only happens when you give up. Let go of some ministry and allow others the opportunity to increase their capacity.

 

Am I releasing people?

 

We also tend to hang on to high level leaders because we don’t want them to grow past us. The fact is, someone out there will always do what you do better. That’s not a bad thing! The greatest mark of a leader is someone who can develop, empower, and release people to do what they do best. You may have a leader that rocks it out in your ministry. But God may have plans for them somewhere else; whether it’s somewhere else in the church or somewhere else in another church. It’s a part of the great commission to send. Be a leader who sends and enjoys watching people shine. The greatest leaders in the church that we know were mentored or led by people you have probably never heard of in your life. Those people will receive greater crowns than you can imagine!

 

Working the soil is difficult sometimes. But it will bring a harvest. I am praying for each of you as we all go on this journey to work the soil of our hearts, but also develop others around us. May we work tirelessly to create a culture that people want to be around and can thrive in. When we do that, people will jump at the chance to help change the world.

 

Changing your culture is all about changing you. I had to be taught how to not live out a dysfunctional life. I thank God everyday for the men and women He placed in my life that showed me a better way to live. As a young adult, I was a poor steward, in debt, immature in my relationships, and had an addictive personality. It’s the culture that I knew, lived in, and mirrored. But when God planted me in a healthy environment, He began to prune me and shape me. That only happened because I was planted in a healthy culture.

 

How’s your personal culture? How’s your family culture? What about your team’s culture? It’s up to you to make sure it’s healthy. So today, grab a shovel and a rake…start planting healthy things.

 

Pastor B

 

 

Empty Jars and Full Flasks

We have been in a series of teachings entitled; Work the Soil. Our latest lesson comes from 2 Kings 4:1-7:

 

“One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!

“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

 

So let’s break down verses 1-2:

Elisha asked ‘what do you have in your house?’ In order to have an effective vision for your life, ministry, and family, it starts with an inward reflection and perspective. Elisha could have fixed her problem; but instead he put it back in her hands. The miracle started with what she had.

God won’t give you more of what you don’t have; but He’ll bless what you’re willing to give. So what was her response? “Nothing at all, except…”

She viewed her circumstance as hopeless because she failed to see that the solution was in her house. In the Old Testament, olive oil was a representation of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. She believed her problem was a lack of resources; but in reality it was a lack of faith and perspective.

What we perceive is a lid on our resources and circumstances is actually a lid on our perspective and willingness to grow. Something to remember when we are faced with a challenge or roadblock in ministry:

 

I am always the lid; God has to change me

 

Here is our perspective sometimes:

I don’t have enough volunteers

But how many people have you personally talked to and recruited, then followed up with?

I can’t find any leaders

But how many people are you personally investing in right now and empowering to lead?

I don’t know enough about the Bible or understand it. I’m not sure how to talk to others or engage them with my faith

But how hungry are you when it comes to reading and learning? You have access to so many resources to help grow your wisdom and faith and we choose not to take advantage of it or actively engage.

 

The jars represent our capacity for growth; whether we are talking about the church or personally. It either represents our systems or our leadership lids. Remember; you (I) are always the lid; you have the Holy Spirit in you! It’s not an oil (presence) issue; it’s a jar (capacity) issue.

 

Let’s break down verses 3-4:

He told her; “borrow as many jars as you can”. In other words:

 

Increase your jars by learning from those who have more capacity than you.

 

We are often prideful or intimidated when it comes to learning from those who are farther along than us in ministry. Swallow your pride and eat the fish, spit out the bone. Learn what to do and what NOT to do from other leaders. Take the good and the bad. There are plenty of churches to learn from; it’s up to you to intentionally want to learn from other leaders. Notice the word; borrow. That usually means you have to give it back. God wants us to realize that as leaders, we grow and learn so that we can give back to others. Don’t take for granted the work God wants to do in your heart and use it to help others grow as well.

 

Let’s look at verses 5-6:

If she had more jars; the oil would have kept flowing. The oil didn’t run out until the jars ran out.

 

The limit is not God’s ability to provide; but our ability to contain.

 

If we (the church and us as leaders) don’t have the capacity to sustain growth, how can the oil keep flowing? Any time you hit a barrier personally, in ministry, or as a church, it’s time to change the systems; add jars. We tend to blame the people—YOU’RE the lid! It’s never a people issue; it’s a system issue. You’re at capacity now to lead exactly how you’re leading. That won’t change until you do. We are perfectly structured as a church to reach the people we are reaching. We won’t reach more until we add more jars; change the structure. Adding jars is all about growing your capacity to lead and raise up more leaders.

 

And finally, let’s look at verse 7:

We see by this verse that:

 

You’re willingness to add jars impacts your future and the future of your family.

 

Everything you’re learning as a leader prepares you to be a better spouse, parent, employee, neighbor, and friend. It’s not about just being a better leader; it’s about growing in your capacity as a follower of Jesus.

 

And now, for the challenge and questions to consider:

 

  1. What jars do I have access to that I need to add? In other words, what do I need to allow God to change about me? (Personally and as a leader)

 

 

  1. What ‘jar conversations’ are you having on a regular basis? In other words, who are you learning from that has more capacity that you do or that is doing it at the next level? (you have access to several of our network churches, the internet, resources, and podcasts. It’s about intentionally making time to do it)

 

 

  1. As a team leader, what issues do you perceive as a people issue but in reality could be a system (jar) issue?

Sometimes it’s our fault because it could be:

> Using the forbidden phrase; “Our people won’t”

> An empowerment issue

> Sanctioned Incompetence (allowing people to drive the culture without accountability)

 

I pray that each of us would realize that God wants to continue to pour out His presence and blessing. It’s up to us to grow our capacity to contain it. Great leaders find ways to add jars. Elisha challenged this widow to do whatever it takes; go borrow from every neighbor and friend you know. Sometimes, we want God to fix our problems and God wants to fix your capacity. The oil is already there; the flask is full. And it won’t run out as long as we keep adding empty jars.

 

Pastor B

 

 

 

 

Easter Recap 2016

This was hands-down, the best Easter at Generation Church since we launched in 2012. I want to start off by thanking every single volunteer that served and worked so hard to make this past weekend a huge success. Without volunteers, there’s no way for me to be able to focus on preaching the gospel to so many people. So many people met Jesus this weekend because of those who are willing to serve. Even in the chaos of Saturday night, please know that it was worth it!

 

As a church, we always want to pray, prepare, and then celebrate. So today, let’s celebrate all that God did over the weekend:

 

1,166 People in Attendance

 

Through 3 worship experiences, we saw our biggest Easter attendance ever (plus volunteers) at Generation Church. I heard so many stories about people that had been invited for years finally came to church. Stories of loved ones, friends, co-workers, and more who finally decided to give church a chance. This happened because of YOUR dedication to getting people to Jesus.

 

373 Kids in Attendance

 

All of the hard work preparing to present the gospel, egg hunts, and gifts for the kids paid off. There were so many stories of kids telling their parents that they loved church and wanted to come back. Once again, this was our largest kids attendance ever! One of our core values states We Invest in the Next Generation. That was never more evident than Easter weekend. Fantastic job, GKids!

 

200 VIP’s

 

This is why we send mailers, personal invites, and blow up social media. Seeing so many new people come through the doors and have an opportunity to experience the love and salvation of Jesus makes all of the work and financial investment worth it. We had 80 kid VIP’s Saturday night alone! What an incredible weekend seeing so many new families.

 

At Least 82 Decisions for Christ

 

This is the number that matters the most! Because of your hard work, prayer, and expectation, nearly 100 people came to Christ!!! This is why we do what we do.

 

143 Volunteers Served Easter Weekend

 

We had over 1,300 people at Generation Church this past weekend counting our volunteers! Those who serve are the heart beat of the weekend worship experience. Without those who serve, Generation Church doesn’t happen. Many of you were willing to give up your seat Saturday night as we completely ran out of chairs. I pray that as you saw those who raised their lights to respond to the gospel, you were reminded of why you serve. May we NEVER grow tired of seeing that!

 

 

We Aren’t Finished

 

Church, we can’t let up. It’s easy to be excited about Easter and feel a sense of accomplishment. But we haven’t accomplished anything yet. There are still so many people who need Jesus in our community. We still have to follow up with all of those who made decisions this weekend. We are taking that next step with BAPTISMS this weekend!!! We have groups to get connected with, more people to connect through Ownership and serve teams.

 

Our mission is not to have a successful Easter; but to accomplish the Great Commission by seeking to: Engage those far from God, Connect them to Jesus and the local church, and Empower them to discover their God given purpose.

 

Let’s bust it to work just as hard for this Sunday as we did for last weekend. We have a lot to do, church. God has entrusted us with so much. By His grace, we have the honor and privilege of being a part of something special. I pray that we won’t take it for granted.

 

I can’t thank you enough again for everyone who helped made Easter special this year. Now that we have celebrated, let’s get back to the grind. Let’s continue to pray for those who made decisions, those who will be baptized, those who will make a decision to get connected, and those we’ve yet to reach.

 

I love you, church…heart and soul.

 

 

Pastor B

Victory Day 2016

Yesterday we passed another milestone as a church. In the past four years that we’ve been reaching our community, we’ve seen God do some amazing things. We’ve seen hundreds come to Christ, hundreds baptized, and countless lives impacted by the gospel. A few weeks ago we began a new journey as a church; our first building campaign. In 2013, just a year and a half after the launch of Generation Church, we were blessed with the opportunity to purchase just over 13 acres of land. We had just paid off our initial debt to start the church a few months before that.

 

Now, just over two and a half years later, we have seen God come through once again. Here is what we celebrated yesterday:

 

GKids Offering

 

Our kids ministry was so excited to give towards the Advance the Dream Campaign. Yesterday, they were able to see the fruit of their generosity. Our kids alone brought in nearly $800 just through their piggy banks! One day they will be worshipping as adults in our new building knowing that they played a part in the vision and mission of their church!

 

Initial Offering

 

We celebrated that just through the initial offering, we took up over $20,000!! Again, I can’t thank you enough for your generosity and giving, church.

 

Advance the Dream Commitments

 

Over the next two years, a portion of the church made commitments totaling over $180,000. I know that many of those people made huge sacrifices in order to make that happen. For those who have committed to this dream, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

A Huge Milestone

 

Because of the generosity of a few, we have been able to show great stewardship in what we’ve been given. We are so excited to announce that at the end of next month, we will pay off the remainder of what we owe on the land! We will be debt free and own over $250,000 worth of property!!!! How amazing is it to know we’ve paid off a huge debt in just over 2 years time?

Paying off our land sets us up to really focus on a timeline to break ground. Our next step will be to get our construction drawings completed. Once we complete the drawings and build up our reserves to a healthy number, we will be prepared to take on a building loan. This is an exciting time for us, church!

My challenge to you is to apply yesterday’s message; stay on the wall. Stay committed to giving, serving, and reaching our community. There is no vision or dream that will come to pass without faith, hard work, dedication, and consistency. Continue to pray. Pray that as we reach people who are far from God that they will get connected to Jesus and the local church. Pray that people continue to take their next steps. Pray that our mission never changes but our methods always will.

 

I hope everyone enjoyed Apollo Burger yesterday. It is a small thank you in comparison to what so many of you give, but I do want you to know that I am grateful and that I absolutely love you, church.

Now, let’s get ready for an amazing weekend of life change as Easter is upon us! Remember that we are just getting started…let’s continue to build and defend this dream together.

Pastor B

Easter at Generation Church

Easter is just around the corner! Every year, we strive to make Easter one of the best experiences for every family. We want you to make plans to attend Easter at Generation Church this year. Why do we go big at Easter? Because; it may be someone’s last opportunity to hear the gospel and make the decision to follow Him. We set the date; but God does the rest. We want to create an experience for families that will last a lifetime.

 

Here are the details for Easter 2016:

 

What

 

What are doing to make Easter special this year? We always focus on impacting families. That’s why Easter is always extra special for our kids.

 

– There will be an egg hunt after each worship experience this year. Well over 10,000 eggs will be hunted, with golden egg prizes.

– Our Saturday night worship experience will be a Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt! Your kids do NOT want to miss this!

– Kids will be given a special gift for coming to an Easter worship experience.

– There will be a family area to take Easter pictures.

– Everyone who attends an Easter worship experience walks away with a free gift.

 

When

 

There will be three opportunities to experience Easter at Generation Church: Saturday, March 26th at 7:00pm. (Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt to follow.) On Sunday, March 27th, we will have special worship times at 9:00am and 11:00am. Egg Hunts will follow both services.

 

So, what is your role? I’m asking all of those who attend Generation Church to do 3 things:

 

  1. Invite

 

Start making your invites now. If I asked what person that you knew was not in church or not a Christian; who comes to mind? That person is the one God is putting on your heart to invite. Take invite cards and spread them everywhere. Use your social media platform to spread the word about Easter!

 

  1. Serve

 

Pick one of our worship experiences to serve at this Easter. Our teams put in double time for our big days, so we need all hands on deck to make Easter successful.

 

  1. Pray

 

Pray for every person who will attend Generation Church this Easter. Pray for every kids small group leader and teacher. Pray for the worship band and all of those serving. Pray for me, your pastor, as I prepare a message that will point people to Jesus.

 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read this. Please share it, re-share it, and spread the word. This Easter could change someone’s eternity. And that someone could be the person you invite.

 

Who are you bringing?

Pastor B

Advance the Dream: Build the House

Over the last four years, we have been privileged to see God do some amazing things. In 2010, Jess and I had big dreams to plant a church that was for the un-churched and those who had left the church for years. We had big goals and faith to believe God for the impossible. On March 4th, 2012 we saw a lot of those dreams come true. We started with just a hand full of people in my living room and prayed for the influence to reach hundreds of people from the start. God answered above and beyond what we could ever dream as 482 people showed up on the very first day of Sunday services. A dream had been born and a dream had come true.

 

And now, four years later, we are ready to advance another dream.

 

In the fall of 2013 we were blessed to be a year and a half in and have the resources to purchase 13.2 acres of land off of Highway 52. We were a young church, but we knew that this property was the perfect place for us to build our first permanent building. We also knew that at that particular time, we weren’t ready to pay a building loan or launch a building campaign. So we went ahead and had architects draw up some preliminary drawings to begin dreaming. So here we are a few years later and we are finally ready for the next phase of that dream. But in order for us to fulfill this next phase of the dream, we need your help.

 

Here are a few of the basic details and FAQ’s surrounding the building campaign; Advance the Dream (ATD):

 

When Will We Kickoff the Campaign?

 

The campaign will kick off with Commitment Day on March 6th. This is our 4 year anniversary as a church. We are asking that everyone in the church come ready on March 6th with two things:

 

  1. An initial offering to kick start the campaign
  2. A commitment card filled out with your commitment to give above and beyond your tithe for the duration of the campaign

 

We are asking everyone to take a few weeks to pray about how you feel led by God to give to the campaign. You can give or turn in a commitment card at any point during the campaign. March 6th is simply our kickoff day.

 

What is the Vision for the Campaign?

 

Our vision statement is simple and powerful for this campaign:

 

The building is not the dream; but it’s the place where dreams are born and given the power to come true.

 

No matter where we are, we can have church. Church is the people, not a place. But there are many benefits to having our own building. Here are a few:

 

* Better, safer kids environments

* Outreach Central—A place to host outreach events and store food/clothes pantries

* A place for the broken to call home

* Bigger and better facility for our students to meet in

* A place where Generation Church’s identity can flourish

* No more set up and tear down! We can have church, lock up and go home!

* Family gatherings; birthday parties

* Small Groups and frequent worship nights—a place for discipleship

 

We want a place to call our own without the headache of going through the school system and renting a space that not our own. Our vision is to have a place where community and life change happen daily; not just weekly.

 

How Long Will the Campaign Last?

 

Our goal is to complete the campaign in 18-24 months. In order for that to happen, commitments and offerings are vital for us to break ground and get into the new building.

 

How Much Money Do We Need in Order to Build?

 

The total cost of the new building will be somewhere between $3.5-$4 million dollars. This is a 25,000 square foot building with dynamic children’s space, a 500 seat auditorium, wide lobby space, a café’, and offices.

 

What Are Our Giving Goals?

 

We have 3 main goals for this campaign. Each goal will help us accomplish different levels of the project.

 

Victory Goal= $300,000

If we reach this goal, we will be able to pay off our land (we owe right at $90,000) and pay for the finalized drawings to begin construction. This is our goal for 2016.

 

Challenge Goal= $600,000

 

If we reach this goal, we will be able to pay off our land debt, finalize the drawings for construction, and be ready to apply for the loan to break ground!

 

Miracle Goal= $900,000

 

We will be able to do all of the above and begin building a permanent building for Generation Church!

 

What if We Don’t Reach Our Goals?

 

Nothing changes about the vision; the timeline is the only thing that will change. Remember, the building is not the vision. It’s the place where vision can be accomplished. If we don’t reach our goals, we are still going to go hard for Jesus and go hard after people! But think of the larger impact we could have by owning our own building. We can then move forward with the next phase of the dream.

 

Can I Just Give Part of My Tithe to the Campaign?

 

We really don’t want your tithe money going towards the campaign because that will hinder us from doing ministry. Our church budget is dependent upon the weekly/monthly tithes and offerings. We want to stay focused on reaching people while we attempt to build this building. Remember, the building is not the vision; people are the vision.

 

 

 

How Do I Get More Information About the Campaign and My Involvement?

 

We have Advance the Dream folders filled with giving grids, pamphlets, building drawings, and commitment cards. We also have resources available to you for stewardship. All you have to do is visit our Next Steps area and ask for a folder and they will give you one. You can also email us at atd@generationchurch.me for more information. Aaron Whitten is our team leader and can answer any questions you may have about the campaign. We will be glad to set up a one on one briefing that is filled with vision and information. We have hosted a church wide briefing already but plan to do at least 2 more this year to keep people informed and challenge them to be a part of the campaign.

 

We began forming a campaign team nearly 7 months ago. When we were praying and preparing, we wanted the perfect scripture to not only describe this campaign; but our church. One of our staff members brought to my attention the scripture found in Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19-22 in the Message version:

 

“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

 

This has been the vision of our church from day one. It doesn’t matter where you came from, who you are, what you’ve done in your past, YOU belong here. God wants to use you to help build His Kingdom. He is our cornerstone and we are the bricks that make up what He is building. The house we are building is not the vision, but it’s the place where the building up of lives takes place.

 

I am asking you as your pastor to do these 3 things:

 

  1. Pray—Pray for our church and pray about how you can participate in the campaign
  2. Commit—Commit to filling out a commitment card and giving above and beyond your tithe over the next 2 years towards this campaign
  3. Find Donors—You may know people who would consider giving a one-time gift towards this building. Invite others to go on this journey with us!

 

 

This new journey starts on March 6th. We will announce how much we took up in the ATD offering and how much we took up in commitments on Sunday March 20th. We are calling that day; Victory Day. We are praying with huge faith that God is going to do great things through everyone’s giving. We are inviting you to join us in this next phase of the dream. If God has brought us this far and provided so much, He will do it again!

 

This is the next phase in the dream…let’s advance that dream.

 

Pastor B

How Do I Stay in a Toxic Marriage?

The longer I am in ministry, the more I see brokenness within marriages. You think that there are so many couples that have amazing relationships; only to find out that they are on the brink of divorce or separation are astounding. Don’t get me wrong; there is no perfect marriage. Everyone faces issues and conflict. But the number of people facing real brokenness and toxic marriages are overwhelming.

 

The relationship could be toxic for several reasons:

 

The relationship was not founded on your faith in Christ

 

You made a decision to follow Jesus after you got married and now your spouse doesn’t share that faith

 

Your spouse has some kind of addiction or unhealthy habit that is destroying your relationship

 

Infidelity

 

You got married for the wrong reasons such as sex, becoming pregnant, or feelings of loneliness

 

Maybe your reasons aren’t on that list, but the question remains: how do I stay in this marriage that has become toxic?

 

The apostle Paul wrote about a similar situation to the church in Corinth. The church had questions about spouses who refused to believe and the tension it was causing in marriages. There was an issue of people converting to Christianity but their spouses were not. It obviously caused tension and disagreements. So, should they leave their spouse since now they were on different pages, spiritually? How do you keep your faith when your spouse refuses to go to church with you? Here is what Paul wrote:

 

“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.”1 Corinthians 7:12-17 (NLT)

 

Paul states clearly that this is his spiritual advice as the leader of the new church. He shifts the focus from what the issue has become with your spouse and really puts it on you. Many times we want to fix our spouse instead of asking what are the things that I need to change? He reminds us that the believing spouse has the opportunity to lead the way in their faith. It’s not demanding your spouse to change…it’s being the change yourself.

 

Here are 4 things to consider when you’re trying to keep your toxic marriage from failing:

 

  1. What is Your Vision for Your Marriage?

 

If you didn’t have a vision for your marriage when you started, it’s hard to be angry when your spouse hasn’t lived up to it. The truth is, everyone envisions marriage and the way it should be, but not many people write down or discuss their vision for marriage. The greatest tension in marriage today is that it doesn’t live up to your pop-culture imagination. But the greatest source of frustration comes from expectations that are poorly resourced. As a leader, when you demand things from people but don’t equip them to accomplish the goal, frustration quickly arises. It’s the same in marriage. You can’t be angry over failed expectations in your marriage when neither of your were properly prepared with real vision. Sit down and write it out. Talk through what your vision for your marriage looks like. It may save your marriage.

 

  1. Remember That You Are NOT the Holy Spirit

 

If you thought going into your marriage that you would change your spouse; you were wrong. You can never change someone’s heart; you can only try to modify someone’s behavior. But when you do that; you set yourself up for failure. The number one thing you can do for your spouse is pray for them. Pray that God would soften their heart. Pray that they would see Jesus through you and your actions. The more you try to control the situation, the worse the outcome.

 

If you’ll allow them to hear God’s voice over yours, you just may bring healing to a toxic situation.

 

  1. Pray to See Your Spouse as God Sees Them

 

Many times we expect our spouse to be someone we aren’t will to be ourselves. Our spouse (much like ourselves) are sinners in need of a Savior. Remember that if you weren’t following Jesus before you got married; God had to do a work on your heart as well. You needed grace, too.

 

If you decided to follow Jesus after you got married and begin to resent your spouse, you are refusing them the same grace that was offered to you

 

Grace is always expected and yet difficult to extend at times; especially to our spouse. If your marriage is in a toxic state, chances are it didn’t get there overnight. Change is a process; not a project. Your spouse is in process, so stop treating them like a project. Every magazine, book, and TV show promises you something new in 30 days. 30 day abs and 30 day new marriages sound great; but are highly unrealistic. Stop looking for the quick fix and begin practicing grace.

 

  1. Live Out What You Expect Your Spouse to Be

 

You probably grew up hearing the phrase treat others how you want to be treated or do unto others as you would have them do to you (The words of Jesus, by the way). That same child like principle works in marriage believe it or not. Sometimes the reason why our marriage becomes toxic is because we are always trying to “even the score”. We become rude because they are rude. You cut off sexual intimacy based on a reward system of some kind. You don’t respect their desires because they don’t respect yours. It’s a vicious cycle that seems to never stop. We are constantly wanting them to see the error of their ways. But in reality, when you live out what you expect, it changes the culture of your marriage. The environment changes and becomes less hostile. You stop coming up with a new sarcastic remark.

 

Selfishness creates a toxic environment. Selflessness creates healthy marriage.

 

Make a list of who you want to become, first. I guarantee it will change the environment of your marriage.

 

In closing, if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind, get out. I’ve experienced it growing up and I’ve heard all of the excuses as to why you stay. None of them are worth the safety and well being of you or your children.

 

But as the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth, I also encourage those that are in a toxic marriage to seek restoration and healing. You can’t be focused on a quick fix; but you have to be willing to go through the process of healing. Seek out counseling and a network of friends who will encourage and support you during the restoration period.

 

It probably took years to get where you are today, so it may take years to get to where you want to be in marriage. But that’s the joy of choosing a spouse. It’s making a covenant to live this journey called life…in the good times…and in the bad.

 

 

Pastor B

The 5 Questions Most People Aren’t Asking Before They Get Married

We kicked off our new series; Relationship Goals this past Sunday and the responses were overwhelming. It is very clear that relationships, marriage, dating, and sex are huge topics not only in our culture but especially in the church. We all have that moment of clarity after we’ve been married for a few years that sparked us to think; if only someone had told me this before I got married. No matter how long you wait to get married, you’ll never be fully prepared to spend the rest of your life with someone else. That’s the joy of marriage; it’s a journey between two people getting to know each other every day. That’s the way it should be.

 

But, there are marriages that suffer and even end in divorce due to the fact that they entered into the commitment with very little preparation or thought. Everyone loves the idea of marriage and the external notoriety that comes from it, but very few consider the cost. Marriage has a cost (not just financially), but sacrificially. That’s why Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:

 

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”Ephesians 5:21-31

 

When you really dive into that text, you begin to understand the true magnitude of the sacrifice that marriage requires. It’s full submission…it’s full devotion. Not just to an idea, but to a person in which whom God has made you one with on earth.

 

So, I thought I would give you the 5 questions that you need to ask before making the decision to marry them. These questions will strengthen your relationship and give you a great foundation for your marriage, or it could save you from making a mistake and ending up divorced.

 

  1. Are They Good Stewards with Their Money?

 

Good stewardship is rarely taught. We are more likely to be taught to buy it now, pay for it later. Saving is out of the question. There are too many new things out there that you need to have. If they are not good stewards of their money and do not allow for margin in their finances, this will be a big deal later in your marriage. You will have arguments over separate bank accounts, frivolous spending, and yes even giving to the local church. Do they value generosity? Do they value saving? Having the money talk before marriage is more than just discussing all of the cool things you want to buy for your new house. It could save your marriage.

 

  1. What Are Their Values?

 

You will never live out the marriage you envision; you’ll only live out the marriage based on the values that you practice now. No one ever says that they want a mediocre or decent marriage. Everyone will say they want a successful and loving marriage. The problem is, you aren’t living the values that are required to make that happen. The emotion and excitement that comes with engagements, wedding days, and honeymoons will slowly fade. The values and beliefs that you hold and live out are what shape your relationship. That’s why some couples can face severe trials and it will actually draw them closer. And some couples can face something that seems so small and end up divorced within a year. Do you value your faith? What about being involved in the local church? Do you value relationships and doing life with others? Do you value family and quality time? These are just a few to consider before saying I do.

 

  1. Do They Have a Job?

 

This question is more for the women, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. If he has had 4 different jobs within 2 years, that’s not a sign of a bad economy, it’s a sign of a pattern in his life. There are always exceptions to the rule, but 90% of the time; this is a huge red flag. And men, does she expect to work or stay at home? This could also be a huge point of tension down the road if you don’t answer those questions before you get married.

 

  1. Do They Have a Sense of Purpose and Goals?

 

Nothing is worse than someone who is simply living to survive instead of living with purpose. When a man or a woman work at jobs that they hate, or have a routine that is out of necessity instead out of a sense of purpose, they will always be hateful and resentful. Men were created to work and discover purpose within their work. Ladies, if he uses you as his sense of purpose that is dangerous. You will not fulfill him and he will resent you for it. You need to make sure that your future spouse has a clear sense of purpose and goals for their life. You may discover that each of your goals look different. This may seem like something you’re willing to compromise right now for the sake of love, but I promise that it will come back to haunt you.

 

  1. Do They Have a Thriving Relationship with God?

 

The last question should be the first. I get it, not everyone thinks this is important. You think that if they come to church with you, then somehow they will magically love God and church as much as you do. But what will happen is that they will do that for a while. But if they do not have a personal faith in Christ and are working on that relationship themselves, it will become a point of tension and resentment as well. It may not seem like a big deal now, but one day when you’re wanting your kids to know Christ and be involved in church it will be a HUGE deal. And it will break your heart to see your kids not want anything to do with God and the church as well because one of the parents aren’t living it out.

 

Bonus Question: Do We Have a Vision for Our Family?

 

How do you plan on raising your kids? How will you choose to discipline them? Will you home school or send them to public school? What will you teach them about your family values? Most people don’t ask these questions until it’s too late and they are dealing with a counselor who’s trying to fix 15 years of a life that was not lived with purpose but good intentions.

 

You will never live according to your intentions; but you will live out the values in which you become intentional.

 

I pray that this encourages you today no matter what season you are in. Even if you are married and you never asked these questions, God’s grace abounds. It’s not too late. Sit down with your spouse and begin the tough conversations. Don’t give up, instead submit to one another and submit ultimately to God’s word.

 

What question do you need to ask today?

 

 

 

Pastor B

 

 

Relationship Goals: Why It Matters

Goals…everyone has them, not everyone actually achieves them. People make all sorts of goals in life. Maybe it’s physical goals such as losing weight or financial goals in order to make that dream purchase. We have life goals, squad goals, and yes—relationship goals. Although, most of them are usually superficial pictures that people post of a boyfriend braiding their girlfriend’s hair, a young couple cuddling in the bed, or some other loving act of affection. But when it comes to real, intentional, and disciplined goals, some people truly aren’t willing work at their relationship or marriage.

 

In my 20 years of ministry experience, I’ve had the opportunity to witness or even counsel many people either before or after they decided to get married. One common thing I’ve noticed is that many people fall in love with the idea of a relationship but never fall in love with the work that it takes to make a marriage work for the long haul. If you show me a couple who has been happily married for 25 plus years, I’ll show you a couple who has worked hard to grow and love one another each day. There’s a difference between making goals and working to achieve them. That’s the difference between people who are dreamers and people who are successful. Many people dream of their wedding day; but very few dream of year seven of their marriage. You know, the year that all hell breaks loose once you’ve had a few kids, lived pay check to pay check, and you are no longer in love with each others quirks that used to be cute when you were dating. No one dreams of that day.

 

When many people today set relationship goals, they want the temporary joy that comes from a false idea of what makes a relationship work. Cuteness, clothes, and abs are attractive for a while. But when your goals have more to do with an infatuation over the appearance of your happiness rather than your actual happiness, you’re doomed from the beginning. Every girl wants to change her Facebook relationship status or fill Instagram with the perfect image of her seemingly amazing relationship. But in our culture today, a status can change in a heartbeat and pictures fade over time. But if you want a relationship that won’t fade, then your relationship goals should be taken a little more seriously.

 

Why does being intentional and setting goals matter? Here are three reasons why it matters:

 

  1. An Ounce of Prevention is Worth More Than a Pound of Cure

 

In our obsession with the latest cure for every one of our illnesses, diseases, and issues, we treat relationships and marriage the same way. More and more people want to find the magic pill to lose weight instead of addressing the real issue; their eating habits. The same applies in marriage. More and more people want the three session; quick fix counseling. They want a quick solution to issues that took months and years to create. If you won’t deal with the important issues that arise in marriage beforehand; you’ll be forced to deal with them later. And for most, it’s too late. Not because it can’t be fixed, but because most have given up by then. If you’re spouse isn’t wiling to work on it before marriage, what makes you think they will when things go wrong? Being intentional on the front end will always be more valuable than trying to fix issues later.

 

  1. Your Kids Will Thank You

 

How many times have kids become the victims of unintentional relationships? It’s one thing to not take commitment seriously or to neglect being intentional with your marriage. It’s a whole other ball game when the kids suffer because of your negligence. Kids don’t ask to be brought into this world. Kids don’t ask for broken homes or fatherless homes. People who don’t have a vision for their future relationships are putting their kids at risk.

 

  1. You Will Save Yourself Money and Heartache

 

The main issues that cause division in relationships are communication, finances, and did I mention communication? Many relationships refuse to find out how their future spouse spends money, deals with conflict, or communicates authentically. Do you value a relationship with God? Do you value going to church? And then they are dumbfounded when they divorce over frivolous spending, lack of communication, no interest in church, and anger issues. Lack of planning will result in lack of happiness.

 

We will be diving deeper into topics such as marriage, being single, sex, and other issues during our sermon series; Relationship Goals that starts this Sunday, February 7th. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, or your marriage is in a rough spot, this series will speak to you.

 

So, the question remains…what are your relationship goals?

 

Pastor B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How We Took Prom and Infused the Gospel

A few years ago I sat looking at my oldest daughter’s gorgeous senior prom dress wondering what to do with it.  I could take it to a consignment store where it would be put in with possibly hundreds of other gowns to sit there until a student comes along or possibly even post on Facebook to sell, but as I sat there staring, I wondered…how many girls would love a dress like this, but because of possible situations with their family, may never be able to afford anything so extravagant?  I would splurge and take my daughter, Jasmine to The White Room.  The White Room is a wonderful boutique full of extravagant gowns where the customers are waited on and served to the fullest extent possible.  You take a number when you enter and you wait patiently for your number to be called because once it was…you were the total focus of that woman who is now your “personal shopper” to make sure you got just the perfect dress for your special night! What an experience it was to be able to treat my daughter to not only prom, but the experience of getting pampered and treated like a princess.  It was at that moment that I was inspired to ask others about an idea that 3 years later is still growing…The Generation Church Prom Shopping Event!

 

The time is near where we host our annual GC Prom Shopping Event.  This event has grown every year and is known not only as a prom dress giveaway, but an “experience” for the students that attend.  That is what we have created for these students; an experience!  Everything we do as a church is intentional and done with excellence. The Prom Shopping Event is no different.  Why? Because we serve a God who has loved and served us with excellence and intentionality, we want everything we do to reflect His excellence.

The students and families who visit the Prom Event are from different walks of life.  Whether it’s someone who has simply had a tough financial season or families that live in poverty-stricken circumstances; the event serves many people.

 

We had the honor of serving many special needs students last year with their prom as well.  From the time that these families enter the door, they are given special attention.  Whether it is the white twinkling lights with black drapes or the chocolate covered strawberries and cupcakes, they feel like a princess while they are there.  They are assigned a personal shopper that serves the student extensively the entire time they are there.  Why? To be the hands and feet of Jesus, but to also build relationships.  They help them sort through gowns that although donated, are stunning!  Jewelry is abundant, as well as shoes.  All donated from GC Owners and other people throughout the community and beyond that believe in the cause.  The guys also have an opportunity to get deep discounts on tuxes with a partnership that we have had with a tuxedo rental store since we started the event.  They leave with the gowns, jewelry, shoes and more and also promised free services the day of prom, whether that be to get their nails, makeup and hair done for free or possibly a corsage and dinner.  All of this is made possible by those who give generously to help these students get to prom that possibly could not otherwise.

 

We have seen life change every year at the Prom Shopping Event, including baptisms.  We have seen mothers in tears as they see their daughter’s come out of the dressing rooms or getting their hair done, saying prom would not have been possible for their student if this “experience” did not exist.  Wonderful stories come from this event each year, including the first year when a Macon County student showed up at almost closing time and had several personal shoppers at her disposal.  As the mother is taking her picture with tears in her eyes to send to Dad so he can see how beautiful his little girl is in her new prom gown, we ask how they heard about the event in Macon County.  “We saw it on the news.” they replied.  We weren’t on the news (at least that we are aware of), but God must have known she needed to be there and guided her there.  We didn’t even advertise that year in Macon County. Yes, we could hang a lot of gowns in a school cafeteria for them to sort through or we can serve them like the royalty they are, if for no other reason than they are a child of God and deserve it.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus and are called to serve our community and beyond and this is just one of the ways that WE GET TO DO THIS!

 

 

How can you help?

 

Starting now we are taking donations of gently used prom gowns in all sizes.  Dresses are not to be any older than 5 years old and in a current style.  No stains or broken zippers please.  Also, we need shoes and jewelry.  Donations can be brought to Generation Church each Sunday until February 28th or contact us for any pickups of donations at 615-745-5293.  Even if you don’t have any of these things, we will be taking donations of dinner and gas gift cards, as well as other items soon.

 

When is the Shopping Event?

 

The date of the Prom Shopping Event is Saturday March 5th and we will also need volunteers to work this event that have a passion to spend time with the students and their families and cater to their every need while there, as well as build relationships with them.  This is an event where we get multiple contacts with the families to speak to them, invite them to church, and promote our student ministry (Pulse) to the teens.  We make the most out of every opportunity and the rewards are endless.

 

Where is the Shopping Event?

 

The event will be held at Crafton Farms in Portland, Tennessee. For directions, simply contact us.

 

Who Can I Contact?

 

You can call the church offices at the number above or simply email me at shelly.gregory@generationchurch.me with how you can help or with any questions.

 

For many, prom is simply seen as a wild night out for High School Students. We decided to turn it into a gospel-oriented event. Jesus went to the people. We wanted to meet the students where they are at and serve them in an amazing way. We wanted to show young ladies and men that they are loved and adored by their Heavenly Father. We wanted show them the true princesses and princes they are because they are a child of God. The generosity, compassion, and love that come from this event cannot be put into words. It truly is an inspirational event.

Life is made up of moments and those moments become memories.  It is an honor that we get to help these families with those moments and hopefully make more moments by sharing the love of Jesus with them.  You never know when you may be the volunteer that is saving those seats next to you for those VIP’s that you served at the GC Prom Shopping Event or another GC event.  I hope that you will consider helping us serve these students and create an experience they’ll never forget. When you are able to see the impact you are making in young student’s life; you’ll truly understand the meaning behind WE GET TO DO THIS!

Sincerely,

Shelly Gregory

Outreach Coordinator-Generation Church

 

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