Archive for the ‘Preaching’ Category

There are message series that I get excited about and then there are message series I get REALLY excited about.  This is one of those REALLY excited message series.

We kick off on Sunday, Father’s Day, June 17th!!!  Men…there will be grillin’ going on with as many bratwursts as you can eat, a fantastic worship experience along with a message about King Jesus.

If you have a motorcycle, feel free to ride it to church on Sunday and we’ll give you some premium parking!

See you Sunday 9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am!

Martin Luther once said that when he preaches he doesn’t aim for understanding among the doctors and magistrates in his church but rather he sinks himself down deep and aims his message for the poor, the servant, and the children.  I like the idea of having an intentional aim when it comes to the delivery of the message.  One of the aims for me is to be aware that at the Living Stones Church on any given Sunday I have a handful of people who are battling cancer.  Knowing this, I believe, helps me in regards to preparing and delivering the message:

1.  Time is precious and it ought not be wasted on a stupid sermon.  For someone with cancer, time has become a precious commodity (not that it isn’t for all of us…but they are now acutely aware of this reality) and they don’t have the luxury of wasting this precious commodity on a sermon that is ridiculous (and there are a lot of ridiculous sermons).

2.  Hearing good news is more important now than ever.  The name of Jesus is greater than any other name.  Even the name “cancer.”  Jesus is good news.  Now, in their present affliction, and in their future glory.  They need to hear, somehow, that cancer doesn’t get the last word – Jesus gets the last word.

3.  Humor is good, being trite is not.  After dealing with IV’s, medical charts, blood tests, scans, x-rays, being poked and prodded – the chance to laugh is welcomed.  What is not welcomed is a long oration about Paul’s shifting eschatological expectations as revealed in his epistles to the church in Thessalonica.  To someone with cancer – this is trite.  So are long-winded messages on what we are against, why we are the only ones that are right, and that sermon that uses “PNEUMATOLOGY” as an acrostic.

4.  God’s sovereignty and his goodness are still true.  If I have cancer I’m struggling with all sorts of questions.  Why is this happening to me?  Will I overcome this?  Etc.  These questions naturally lead to an overwhelming feeling of being out of control.  Thus, I need to know that God is control and that he is sovereign even in this situation.  I want to know that I’m not at the whim of cancer.  But I also want to know that God is good because after puking for the majority of the week I have doubts and I need to be encouraged again.

If I were teaching a class to preaching students, I would have in the instruction – “Remember, when you get up in the pulpit to preach, you are preaching to someone who is dying of cancer.  Let that shape your message and delivery.”

Postcard sent out to 10,000 homes on the South Side of South Bend!

A lot of people are interested in discovering how to survive the impending zombie-apocalypse.  Well…we won’t be covering that topic.  BUT…how to survive and recover from a “living dead” state in your spiritual life, marriage, finances, job, etc. (or just life in general)…THAT we’re talking about!!!  And we begin the conversation this coming Sunday, April 8th – EASTER – @9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am at the Living Stones Church!!!!

The church has been buzzing with help and activity all week:  labeling post cards, putting candy in plastic easter eggs (for our easter egg hunt on Saturday with the families at Monroe School), putting together the set design for our new series (I love it by the way!!!), preparations for our Good Friday service, practicing for our Easter celebration, invite banners in the front yard, etc.  It is going to be a great weekend!!!!  See you there…and rent vans and bring as many people as you can find!!

Good Friday – noon

Easter Egg Hunt – Saturday 10:30 am

Easter Celebration (Walking Dead series) – Sunday 9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am

I got an e-mail message from Kyra Hammett that The Nate Show (which I don’t watch on principle 🙂 ) today was highlighting upcycled art.  What is upcycled art you ask?  Good question!

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

It’s like the Macgyver of the art world.  You take pieces that in-and-of-themselves seems like mundane, ordinary, or even – junk and you use them to create something of greater purpose and value:

Ordinary items or junk

and you turn it into this:

An Upcycled Bike Handlebar Bag w/reflectors

In the same way – God takes what seems like mundane, ordinary – and sometimes “junk” people and through the power of the Holy Spirit  he “Upcycles” our life into greater purposes and beauty!

So, this Sunday, we begin a new message series out of 1 Corinthians entitled “Upcycled Church.”  It will be an expository series as we walk through 1 Corinthians together.  Because of that – if you have a Bible – you are encouraged to bring it…along with a friend (or two…or 15!)

One last thing:  In conjunction with the Upcycled Message series we are working on an upcycled art project.  To help us, you are invited to bring us your “trash” over the next several weeks.  We will be collecting items that represent you…anything will do:  cans, bottles, a pair of jeans, a gift from a relationship you’ve left behind, wrappers, shredded paper…anything.  And with your trash, we will form a piece of art that represents for Living Stones:  We want an upcycled life.  If you have questions, feel free to send an e-mail to Jennae Gee here.

Communitas – is an intense community spirit, the feeling of solidarity and togetherness achieved by sharing in a common experience.

What are Communitas Groups?  Go HERE and listen to the last two podcasts (if time is limited…pick the second part of the two).  In it, I describe the vision and philosophy of our small groups ministry as we launch the first week of March our NEW Communitas Groups.


Sign up HERE to be in a group.  There are 12 different groups meeting at different times with different leaders and different formats (e.g., men/women, etc.).  I am VERY excited to see what God does through these groups on our quest to become spiritually fit – ready for ANYTHING!!

Read any book on “healthy churches” and there will be a chapter on the importance of small groups.  I feel like I’ve read every one of them.  And when I hear “small groups”, this is what I hear – “blah blah blah blah.”  This is my pastoral confession.  I believe that every Pastor knows they are important, and the hidden secret is that a lot of Pastor’s hate them.

At the Living Stones Church (and even previously as the Donmoyer Ave. Church of Christ) we have tried to do small groups with every known method to man!  We’ve done classic Bible studies, groups based on demographics, groups based on your geographical location, gender-specific accountability groups, the cell-group model (and the cell-group model that was rolled out every year at a conference to be the “new and improved” cell-based model), the semester-based/short-term growth group model, etc.

There are pros and cons to all of those methods.  But in November of 2011 when we had a leadership meeting and we began discussing our small group ministry, I personally felt apathetic, and I didn’t sense a whole lot of excitement in the room of among the other leaders at LSC.


We started applying some principles we had read in a series of blog posts that challenged how churches typically structure themselves for spiritual growth and transformation.  And by the time we were done talking, dreaming, and planning – the whole room lit up with excitement about a new way of thinking and experiencing small groups at Living Stones Church.

Over the next two weeks I want to share that discussion with you and tell you about our plans for small groups and how they are intertwined with spiritual transformation and community (two topics we have talked about for a very long time).

As a hint – the author of the blogs we read, who happens to be a diehard CrossFit coach – used CrossFit as a working analogy and paradigm for the spiritual realm.  I’ll tell you more about it on Sunday!  I’m very excited about it…like uber-excited!

The 3rd and final part of our “Vision 2012” message series is now online.  You can find it here.

As a side note, and in response to the message’s conclusion, we had a record tithes and offerings on Sunday.  Thank you for your generosity!!!  God is good.

On Sunday a began a two-week message series that talks about where we are headed here at the Living Stones Church in 2012.

And when I say two-week…I really do mean it is a two part message.  I had Paco Bayer give me a signal when I had reached a certain time and then I abruptly ended my message (kind of awkward…I know).  And, I am picking up where I left off this past Sunday.  Which means, if you missed Sunday, you missed the 1st half of the message!!  SO…before Sunday…if you missed it…listen to the message so that where I pick up will make sense (or at least as much sense as any of my messages make).  You can listen to it here.

If you had plans to miss this coming Sunday because of vacation…cancel them!  Take large volumes of vitamin C so that you aren’t sick on Sunday!  Be here to finish the message we began on Sunday.  I’m very excited.  And I think you will be too!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.  – Apostle Paul


If you ever wanted to know what the “heart beat” of the Living Stones Church is in about 30 minutes of time – check out this past Sunday’s podcast.  You can find it here.

THEN don’t miss the next two weeks as we try to unpack and articulate how we are going to live out our vision and direction for 2012 (and beyond).  See you Sunday 9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am! 

Every year there are usually a handful of Sundays that if I had to pick – out of all the Sundays in the year – I would pick that one to bring a guest to church.  THIS SUNDAY is one that I would pick.  There is someone in your life – it could be a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a family member who is searching for a church and a purpose greater than themselves.  This Sunday we are going to be talking about the Living Stones Church – our story, our vision, our calling, our mission, what God is doing, what we believe God is going to do – and it gets me super fired up!  Like…talk too fast…spit flying out of my mouth (but not reaching the front row)…and maybe even an incidental snort (that was for you 10:30ers last week) in my delivery – fired up!!  And I believe it will get you AND your guest fired up as well.

So – start right now…seriously…quit looking at this blog (or…wait…what?) and contact someone you know and tell them to meet you here (or go pick them up…or take them to breakfast and then bring them here…or bring them here and then take them out to lunch…well…you can figure out logistics) for this Sunday’s worship and message.  Seriously.  Go do it.   Now.

[This blog post has been brought to you by the grammatical symbols – ellipses and parenthesis. 🙂 ]