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January 21st, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

What I’m Learning through our Fast

We’re nearing the end of a 21-day fast at LifeChurch.tv, and this morning I’ll be talking with our staff about some of the ways God is speaking to me during this time. I thought I’d take a few minutes and share with you as well.

I’m reading through the Bible in 90 days, and something in the Old Testament has stood out to me. God kept doing these crazy huge miracles, and after each one the Israelites would soon start complaining “What’s God done for us lately?” Parting the water, manna from the sky, water out of a rock, and next thing you know they’re whining, “Now what are we going to do?!”

It didn’t take long for them to forget. The same goes for us.

In the 14-year history of LifeChurch.tv (which is a very short span of time from an Old Testament perspective), God has done some remarkable things. Yet, even for those of us who experienced it firsthand, it’s been easy to lose sight of just how much He’s done. We focus so intently on moving forward that we can feel it isn’t worthwhile to look back.

We need to do something to remember all God has done and all God is doing.

Not because the past demands our attention, but because the future demands that our focus is on Him. We have to keep God’s work present in our minds, or we’ll be tempted to rely on our own abilities and forget the role He’s played.

To move forward, we have to look to the past.

How do you remember God’s work in your church and in your life?

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January 7th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

One Thing to Claim

As you strive to please God in 2010…

  • What is one promise you need to claim?

Even though Samuel had anointed young David as the future King of Israel, for years it looked like it would never come to pass.

When David found himself again on the run from King Saul, he tried to find safety among the Philistines. Deciding his best play was to act crazy, he found himself awkwardly caught between a rock and a hard place.

That’s when David implied that there were many things he didn’t know. But there is one thing he did know for sure. Psalm 56:9-10 in TLB says, “This one thing I know: God is for me! I am trusting God-oh, praise his promises! I am not afraid of anything mere man can do to me! Yes, praise his promises.”

Although David didn’t know much, he knew that God was with him.

Scripture is full of God’s promises. Here are a few.

God promises:

  • To meet every need you have from his riches. (Phil 4:19)
  • You won’t be tempted beyond what you can handle. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • To forgive all your sins. (Eph. 1:7; 1 Jn. 1:9)
  • To make everything work for your good. (Rom 8:28)
  • He’d never leave you or forsake you. (Heb 13:5)
  • To be your ever present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1)
  • To give strength to the weary and power to the weak. (Isa 40:29)
  • To guide you and give you direction. (Ps. 32:8)
  • To give you a peace that goes beyond your understanding. (Phil 4:7)
  • To give you power to defeat Satan (James 4:7)
  • Nothing would separate you from God’s love. (Rom. 8:39)
  • You are more than conquerors. (Rom. 8:37)
  • Eternal life through Christ (John 10:27-28)

What one promise (not limited to this list) do you need to claim?

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January 6th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

One Thing to Let Go

As God is leading you forward into the New Year…

  • What is one thing you need to let go?

The Apostle Paul was describing how he wanted to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. He admitted that he hadn’t taken hold of it yet and wrote the words recorded in Philippians 3:14-14, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I’m not certain what he wanted to forget and let go. Perhaps it was the Christians he hurt, tortured or killed. Maybe it was the abuse he suffered for boldly serving Christ: being beaten with the rod, whipped, stoned and left for dead. Maybe it was a personal failure we know nothing about.

Whatever it was, Paul knew he needed to let go of something from the past to move forward with God.

Maybe someone hurt you and you continue to harbor bitterness. Perhaps your spouse betrayed you and you still are trying to punish him or her. Maybe you let yourself down, let God down, or let those around you down, and you haven’t let it go. Perhaps you failed and fear failing again.

What one thing do you need to let go to move forward with God?

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November 3rd, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Letting Go of Old Assumptions

The world is changing faster every day. Too many Christian leaders are working off old assumptions rather than new revelations.

When we assume that our way of doing ministry is best:

  • We stop learning from others.
  • We rarely try something new.
  • We quickly see faults in new ideas rather than seeing opportunities.

To reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing.

If you think the way everyone else is thinking, you’ll do what everyone is doing.

It is time to let go of old assumptions about how to reach people.

What assumptions about church and ministry are you shedding?

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October 26th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Leading Into the Future

When I want to lead into the future, I usually look into the past to see what I can learn from any patterns.

Sensing it was time to make some changes in our church culture, I prayerfully reflected over the different seasons of our church.

I noticed a distinct pattern that repeated itself at least seven times. (I’m not claiming this will be true for everyone, but might be true for many ministries.)

Phase 1: We create something new (new ministry or new innovation).

Phase 2: We recruit and train leaders for the new initiative.

Phase 3: We build systems to support the new effort.

Once the ministry system (or leadership structure) is in place, the ministry runs somewhat effortlessly for a while.

It could be months or even years that God seems to bless this season of ministry. Eventually, it seems that God slowly (or quickly) removes His blessings from what we “we’re doing” forcing us to seek Him for something new.

I’ll write all week about this.

Have you noticed anything similar in your ministries?

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May 29th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Not Just More, But Different

I will never be satisfied with a church filled only with people who know Christ. God longs for the “lost to be found.” But for years I found the greatest joy in more people coming to church.

Today, I’m redefining success to not just more people, but different people.

A few years ago, our church was experiencing record crowds of people. But we also had many people who’d been with us for years falling into major sins.

We seemed to be effective at getting people into Church, but were we truly getting people into Christ?

I’ve been set free from being totally driven by attendance. Instead I’m asking God to take those we have into a deeper place of intimacy and knowledge of Christ. I’d rather have fewer and totally committed believers than a large number of lazy, apathetic, carnally minded and unproductive cultural Christians.

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May 26th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Changing the Scorecard

Reggie McNeil wrote a good book called Missional Renaissance, Changing the Scorecard for the Church. His subtitle explains in six words what I’ve been feeling, but unable to express succinctly. For many churches, it’s time to “redefine the win.”

For years, the most important measurements of success for churches in my circles were attendance, salvations, baptisms and the budgets.

(These measurements of success were often reflected in my conversations with other pastors. “So, how many people did you have at church last Sunday? What’s your annual budget?”)

In my mind, those traditional markers of success will always be worthy of measuring, but the scorecard for tomorrow’s church must be broader.

  • Bigger crowds don’t necessarily mean bigger success. (A church could offer free beer and draw a crowd.)
  • Bigger budgets (leading to bigger buildings) don’t necessarily equal bigger success.
  • Salvations and baptisms would surely be celebrated in heaven, but these celebrations should be the beginning of success and not the end goal.

This week I’ll write about three other ways to measure success.

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May 11th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Suggestions for Today’s “Relevant” Church

When we started Life Church in 1996, we intentionally desired to be a “relevant” church. For way too long, what happened in church on Sunday seemed way too disconnected to the other 6 days and 23 hours of the week. With sincere intentions, we (and many others) deliberately sought to present God’s eternal truths with daily applications.

A decade and a half later, it is rare to find a church that isn’t making an attempt at a “contemporary” service. While I believe the shift that occurred in the 80s and 90s was appropriate and in some ways necessary, in my opinion—at many churches—the pendulum has swung too far. Another correction is necessary for many.

  • What used to be edgy is becoming distasteful.
  • What used to be cool is becoming cheesy.
  • What used to be creative is becoming gimmicky.

While the intentions of most relevant pastors (including my own) are generally to reach those who don’t know Christ, we have to ask ourselves, “How effective are our ministries really?” Just because we are “growing” numerically doesn’t mean the people coming are growing spiritually.

This week, let’s respectfully discuss some possible corrections for the “relevant church.”

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