Hey From LA—Random Thoughts As The City Awakes

Dec 14, 2005

I am sitting in a hotel in downtown LA—and things are beginning to come alive outside. And when I say we are downtown…I mean we are DOWNTOWN! The buildings around us are huge…I made a comment to ‘Cretia last night, “Hey ‘Cretia—there’s the Wells Fargo building—they own our house—actually—we are paying for THAT building!”

I was awake at 5:00 this morning…Pacific Time! I wanted to sleep some more—but I could not cut my brain off…these are some thoughts I had.

#1 - There are so many different people in the world…and it is going to take different types of churches and ministries to reach them!

If you want to experience cultural diversity—come to LA for a day…or better yet, just get on an airplane bound for LA—WOW! There were two ladies behind us from Alabama…and in front of me was a Torah observant Jew who was reading Hebrew scriptures and had the tassels and everything. There were people from all over the world on this plane…and they all have to be reached differently!

There isn’t one right way to do ministry—to do church—this world speaks so many different languages…and the church has to learn how to communicate to them. It is not their job to figure out how we do things…and if they can’t, well—they can just “go to hell.” We’ve got to reach them where they are!

That is what Jesus did—when He came to earth He went from place to place…and He didn’t speak some sort of “heavenly language” that the crowd did not understand—but communicated with them using their culture and their way of living.

I am so glad that God is allowing me to pastor NewSpring…He has called us to do church in a unique way—to reach those who were formerly being unreached—and that is our passion! BUT to say that we are doing it “right,” I would not go that far—we are doing what GOD has told us to do—and it is right for where we are—but to say that all churches need to be like us would be arrogant…all churches need to do what God has told them to do—BUT they need to make sure they are listening to Him and not the church by-laws!

#2 - Missions Is Not An Option—But Let’s Be Serious About It!

Mission trips in many churches have always bothered me…they are nothing more than vacations with Jesus attached to them. People go and stay in nice hotels, do some sightseeing, and then one day they pass out a Bible and then pat themselves on the back for the next 10 years.

And the thing that gets me the most is that they usually go to places that are “safe,” and while they are there they ask the Lord to “protect them” and “keep them safe.”

Uh, exactly where was it in Scripture that God said His desire for us was to keep us all safe. If we read carefully—those who were serious about following Christ usually were killed for it.

So about NewSpring and missions…I am often asked, “When is NewSpring going to get involved in missions?” AND, “How much money does our church give to missions?”

I have a unique view on this…when we planted NewSpring I wanted to be a church that was consumed with the community in which we existed. Once again, I am bothered when a church will go halfway across the US…or the world…and do mission work—but they ignore the people who are on their way to hell right in their own backyard!

So we decided early on that Anderson was (and is) our mission. That we were going to put every ounce of effort we had into reaching the community in which we were in. Every dime given to NewSpring goes to missions—because we believe the people in Anderson and in the upstate region MATTER to God…and we are passionately trying to reach everyone one of them that we can with the Gospel.

This past year we have became involved in US mission work as we sent a team down to help with Katrina relief…and are preparing to send more teams down in the spring.

And now we are exploring getting seriously involved in worldwide missions…and a couple of days ago two unique opportunities became available to do mission work…in Iran and Pakistan!

“WHAT,” I can hear some of you say, “those are Muslim countries—they KILL Christians.”

EXACTLY! But my response back to you would be, “Who needs Jesus more than them?” If we are consumed with going places in the world that are safe to reach people in the safest way possible…then what does that say about our commitment to Christ. After all, didn’t He say that we need to take up our cross…that if we are not willing to lose our life then we will never find it?

I am praying about the opportunities that are in front of us…and am personally excited that our church could possibly have the privilege of going over there and doing some SERIOUS work for the kingdom. Please don’t ask me details right now—I do not know many…and if I did I would not share them over the internet.

Whew—that’s about it—I’ve got to go work out and then head up to Saddleback—and then reconnect with some family members I haven’t seen in 18 years! Should be a great day!