Opinion Media

Maybe this post is venting or perhaps a cry for help because I don’t have a solution to the problem just yet. But this week I have been struck by the necessity of shared opinion in our day. In fact, if you don’t have an opinion you are view with suspicion or worse.

Maybe it is social media. The constant demand it seems to present for a form of engagement that is really just sharing your opinion, and done aggressively without care for what others may think. Sure people have always had and shared opinions but the prevalence of it is a soup that we swim in as a culture.

Quick, rate the restaurant and shoe store on Yelp. Hurry and like your cousin’s post about a border wall (or perhaps click the angry emoji). Or take your time and write a blog post about how this is bad or that just doesn’t get it. Everything opinion all the time. And the media we engage with gives us a megaphone to broadcast how we feel and think.

It has even invaded normal conversation, judgment of others, things, and situations… many that we have no real knowledge about. The opinion culture fostering criticism and condemnation of everything.

Surely it is an increasing problem that only stands to divide and separate the lot of us. We should all do something about it. Resist the urge. Change the dialogue.

Of course, that’s just my opinion…

What Are You Resolving Toward?

The other day I saw someone tweet that they were hesitant to take on a new fitness challenge into the new year, something they needed, because people would essentially make fun of them for setting resolutions. After all, no one keeps resolutions.

The opposite is true. People do keep resolutions. All the time in fact and not just at New Years. If people could not keep the determination to make changes in life, there would never be any and we would all be dead. But the social backlash or fun-making at the crowds at the gym at the beginning of the year is perhaps a coping mechanism with our own inability to live a resolved life.

Spiritually, we rejoice that salvation is not kept by our ability. It is secure, kept, and brought all the way home by Christ himself. Then in the natural we realize that Jesus won’t eat less sugar for us. While we are helped by the Holy Spirit we still have to shut the pie hole, run the miles, read the books, enjoy the out-of-doors, build relationships with family and friends, spend less or more strategically, and whatever it is you should be resolved about!

So go ahead and make that change. Plan to do it, make a resolution. I am cheering you on and you will find it is worth it.

Reservoir Release

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring ​— ​what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” — James 4:13-15 (CSB)

Every time someone asks what my “vision for the church” is I feel a little bit like a kindergartner being asked what he wants to be when he grows up. I can only hope my answer might be taken with a bit more seriousness or belief!

It is a fair question and one we get asked a lot as a replant of a twenty-two-year-old church. We endeavored to fix organization issues with a new book of church order, we established a new elder council, we changed the name of the church to match our new identity as a body, and we have unrelentingly preached the gospel as the whole counsel of God from his word. So what’s next? What does a little church of eighty souls look forward to, or labor toward?

Good question.

“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that…”

I think I do have an answer and some sense of the Lord’s will for us. Paired with the healthy marks of the church, when we grow up, my hope is that Reservoir Church is a seeding and sending church. Small, agile and able to raise up, equip, and launch missionaries and new churches and revitalize older churches.

I think of it as “Release.” The healthy and useful reservoir is filled with clean water and in order for it to function as designed, it has to release what it has stored up. Communities don’t thrive if their reservoirs never give out water. I hope we see the church in the same way.

Of course, I recognize the desire to grow a crowd. To need bigger facilities and refine a brand… my flesh would love that. Healthy churches are supposed to grow all the books say. But for us, if there is a healthy branch available, we want to plant it in new soil so that we reflect a kingdom priority and we see people believe in Jesus.

If this Reservoir is meant for “release,” how do we get there? I think we cling to Jesus and focus our discipleship in three categories:

  • Evangelism
  • Vocational empowerment
  • Equipping

This good news of Jesus met us on its way to someone else, and we have been commissioned by Christ to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of sin in his name to all nations. We don’t want to take this lightly and we don’t want to miss the opportunities in our neighborhoods. So to that end, we will train, teach and implore each of us to share Jesus at every opportunity. We have nothing if we don’t share the hope of salvation. And rather than hope the church will grow by adding dissatisfied believers from other churches, we want the few chairs we have to be filled by those meeting the real Jesus for the first time.

Evangelism is then paired with each individuals’ purpose, the place and vocation the Lord has put them in. We desire to stir the body of believers to recognize their work as a sacred instrument meant to bring the peace of God to our city. This is the church as a creative minority in this age. A linked minority working together for the renewal of all things.

Then in both categories and in all of life, we desire to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Discipling each other with a bent outward. Recognizing everyone in the church has a kingdom role to play and making sure they have the arrows they will need in their packs.

There are many details and attempts to come down the road. I still don’t know each step. But together, we will lean into “release” for the glory of Christ.

This is key, we are stricken with pastoral insufficiency by the grace of God. I am not a super leader or a valiant entrepreneur. We may need systems and areas of support I can’t see. It will take all of us. From elders to volunteers in the special needs ministry. From deacons to small group leaders and everyone in-between.

So are you in? Are you willing to prepare the Reservoir for release? Maybe you will be the one we send, maybe you will be the one to take someone else’s place when they go… all for the glory of Jesus.

We exist to know Jesus and make him known. Those rescued by Jesus reshaped into family for the renewal of others and all things. Let’s go!

Mapping the Road Ahead

I am in the midst of a very slow process of drafting a vision document for Reservoir Church, something I have been hesitant to do but something that is increasingly needed for our congregation eager to engage in ministry and the purpose of the church.

As a replant of a twenty-year-old church, the elders and I have been slow to cast “a grand vision” for the future of our church frankly because our key vision was health, something we drastically needed.

Approaching now the four-year mark of replanting we are ready for the long view so that we can “drive in the right direction.” We have a new name, 80% of our members became so within the last four years, and our demographic has shifted slightly younger to new families looking for something to invest in long-term.

This process is much like plotting your course in google maps. You have to know where you are going in order to choose a route.

It can seem daunting in the near term and maybe premature. Certainly, anything we formulate is open to amendment along the way. But if we don’t have a shared destination in mind we will be all over the map and less than fruitful.

How does this truth play out in your life? Like me are you prone to coasting and trusting you will end up on the shore with the wave upon wave of grace in Christ?! This might be a good time to seek direction from the Spirit and go after the goal.