Welcome to Provocative Church

As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.

Worship

We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Church

The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.

Ancient Future

Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.

Freedom

There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Importance of Team

My entire down-line of ministry team leaders are volunteers. But team is so important to me that I have pulled them all together as one team. This is important on a couple of levels. (read the rest here on my other blog, First Impressions)

LOST begins soon!

I have been looking forward to evening for some time now.  The only disappointment is that only 6 episodes were made before the writer's strike.  Oh well, 6 is better than zero.

Clown ministry is scary


I have always disliked clowns. And it didn't help when Stephen King introduced the "clown" Pennywise in his novel "It", which gave me subsequent nightmares. I am currently reading the book, "Unchristian" which discusses the many barriers and the unfortunate perspectives that those outside of the church have of Christians. That book has got me thinking about a lot of issues concerning myself personally and for the church. I know this issue of clown ministry may seem as a bit of a rabbit trail, but actually I think that it is pertinent. This subject spoke to me as a metaphor concerning the lack of relevancy and effectiveness that the church often faces, especially in how it does ministry and reaches out to the community.

Children’s ministers and missionaries have been using clown ministry for years, but University of Sheffield researchers discovered that most children ages 4 to 16 dislike clown images. The research was an effort to find ways to improve healthcare environments for children and young people but it has interesting implications for the church. What we, inside the church think as being "effective", fun, and entertaining actually is scaring people.
As adults we make assumptions about what works for children. We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable. - Dr. Penny Curtis :: Researcher :: Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth
Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don’t look funny, they just look odd. Children are much more happy with things stuck on the wall that have some sort of personal relevance for them, not some images that are foisted upon them by adults. - Patricia Doorbar :: Child Psychologist
I particularly find Patricia Doorbar’s comments interesting because she suggests that clowns are from an era that is no longer relevant to today’s children.
[via BBC News]

What else does the church do that continues to lack relevancy to the culture around it? Are we even aware?

By the way, I guess the idea of Clown Communion should be reconsidered as well.

Provocative Church has gone mobile!

Here is a mobile url in which you can read this blog

Put this url in your mobile browser and you will view a readable, stripped down version of ProvocativeChurch.

I will be putting a link on my sidebar with this link calling it "Mobile Version"

(thanks to Google Tutor for the instructions to do this)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

12 Stones

Speaking to the Middle School ministry tonight about Joshua and the 12 Stones (Joshua 4).

Remembering God's faithfulness is the crux of the message.

God has been good.  I am thankful for a beautiful bride and partner in life and ministry.  I am thankful for two teenage girls who are growing up into young women (with 3 girls in the house, my life is a living, breathing Jane Austin novel :-) )  I am thankful for Big Creek Church.  I can't imagine any other group of people I would want to embark on this journey of life and ministry together.  I am also thankful for my good health.  I am thankful for God's mercies that are new every morning.  This list could go on and on.

The key though is to build those memorials in my life that alway jar my memories and thoughts toward his blessings.  I constantly forget his goodness and blessings toward me, especially when I am up against new and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

But just as God has been faithful in the past, He is still with me today, as He will be with me tomorrow.  He doesn't change.  Nor is He fickle or capricious.  His goodness and love is everlasting.  Amen!

Branding Interviews Today

Today we are having a series of Branding interviews with the MetaLeap Design Group. These are the folks who branded the PCA denominational magazine, byFaith. I am really stoked to move through this process.

(Phil Cooke talks about branding in the church here)

Creative as you want to be!


LifeHack published an article that discusses ways to polish and extend those innovative and creative powers of ours.

I have posted on this topic as well, my contributions are here and here.

Listed below are some of LifeHacks' suggestions:

Keep Topping my Tank. "Creativity needs raw material: it needs continual exposure to more knowledge and other peoples’ thinking to allow it to appear."

Seek Out As Many New Experiences As I Can. "The more you cling to your comfort-zones, the less likely you are to be able to see beyond them, let alone stimulate your mind to produce new ideas."

Keep Challenging Myself. "Creative people are constantly putting themselves into situations that challenge them in some significant way: intellectually, practically, or in terms of understanding. They take risks that less creative people shy away from."

Ignore Automatic Criticism-especially My Own. "Many peoples’ creativity is stifled at birth by self-judgmental impulses. Indeed, that’s likely the greatest reason why the majority of people fail to use the creativity they have: any new idea is squashed instantly by negative thoughts in their own minds. They never risk being rated a fool by others because they dismiss themselves as foolish first."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

C. J. Mahaney's new blog

Tony Reinke of the blog The Shepherd’s Scrapebook has helped C. J. Mahaney start a blog called the Sovereign Grace Blog. I am looking forward to it's future posts.


What if...?

What if there was Google Earth during the Bible times.

This has been floating around the internet for some time now, but I thought some of you may not have seen it and may find it interesting. I am a big fan of Google and their apps, although I wouldn't go as far as this group - (Church of Google)

A Sydney, Australia-based art collective called The Glue Society has re-created scenes from the Bible as if captured by Google Earth’s ubiquitous satellites.


Parting of the Red Sea
red.jpg


Noah and the Ark
noah.jpg


The Garden of Eden
eden.jpg

The Crucifixion
crucifixion.jpg

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Physicality of Community

Community, then, is much more than coming together for events in which we exchange data, or share social activities or even give one another temporary emotional support. Community is life together. It is conducting the daily activities of life with other believers. It means preparing and eating meals together and then cleaning up afterward. It means doing the innumerable practical tasks of household maintenance, and helping one another develop homes that are real havens. It means walking, talking, and exchanging counsel. It means spontaneous as well as structured time together. It means play.
-Tim Keller, Buildings for Community

Friday, January 25, 2008

Homelessness in the Suburbs



As a follow up to my previous post about the wealth and affluence in our county, I just came across this article in the AJC yesterday.

Homelessness in the Suburbs

This article isn't about our county in particular but rather concerning a neighboring county...but it nevertheless highlights my point that even among our wealth here in the Atlanta suburbs, there hides among us great need and hopelessness.

(picture via Fishermen)

We are number 13!



Perhaps some of you have heard already but Forsyth County has been placed on a national list. Forbes magazine listed Forsyth County, GA as the 13th richest county in America. (America's Richest Counties - Forbes.com)

Here is an excerpt from our entry on the list:
Forsyth County has a median income of $83,682. Georgia isn't one of the country's biggest states, but it is made up of more counties than any other. The result? Counties post specific demographics. Take Forsyth. It's a part of the Atlanta metropolitan area, but the median household pulls in $33,000 more a year than neighboring Fulton County.
What does that mean for Big Creek Church? With all that wealth in this county we shouldn't have any problems, correct? People in Forsyth County should be free from any needs, right? Of course not.

Certainly in an affluent county like Forsyth, it is harder to assess the needs. They don't seem as obvious and readily apparent, but the needs are HERE and they are REAL.

If we are willing to look we will find those in need.

To often the needs hide in the shadows and in the margins of our county. Have you ever been to the Homestead community that many at Big Creek church minister alongside? Did you have the opportunity to deliver a Thanksgiving meal to a needy Forsyth family, this past year? If you have, you know that people with needs are not out in the open. Especially people with physical and material needs in Forsyth are hidden away and out of sight. It requires us to be intentional and to design opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ to needy families and children in Forsyth county.

If we are willing to listen we can minister to those in need.

Even our neighbors who live among us, in our own neighborhoods are in great need. Behind the manicured lawns and the white picket fences are people unleashing a silent scream of pain. They are screaming in pain over broken marriages, fractured relationships with their children, and loneliness. Many are trying to anesthetize their pain with busyness, drugs, alcohol or internet pornography.

Are we willing to get into the lives of our neighbors and love and listen to them? I believe that they are giving us many clues to their need and brokenness but too often we, ourselves, get caught up in our own busyness, that we fail to take moments to invest time with them. Many times all it takes is a willingness to stop talking and just be willing to listen and care.

Forsyth County may be affluent and rich, but it won't ever be truly rich until people surrender to the love of Jesus. God has called us and Big Creek to be a lighthouse of love to those who broken, battered and bruised by life.

We have a wealth of opportunities to show people Jesus in this county by allowing them to see the power of the gospel in our own lives. I am excited about what God is currently doing but even more stoked with anticipation of what he is going to continue to do in the future in bringing gospel centered transformation to our community

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice

In the two years that we've been here there has been no snow, no we are enjoying two snow storms in one week. It is a ton of fun to play and enjoy the snow with the girls.

Here are some pics from today.




Scary!


Awesome! Stylish! Compelling! Cloverfield

Those are all the words that I can use without giving away any spoilers. What is really compelling about this movie is how the special effects are woven in seamlessly with the live action. The movie makes you feel as if you are part of the action.

I saw Cloverfield Friday evening after having waited for this movie from some time. I'd like to see it again.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I've come across. I feel the need to share some of the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it throughout the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)




Simplicity is never simple

For the past year, Big Creek has been working through and applying many of the principles from the book, Simple Church. One of the truths about a simple church is that getting there isn't "simple". I just read this fascinating article in Wired Magazine called, The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry.

If you have used the iPhone, you have marveled at the phone's simplicity. The interface is easy to use and intuitive. But what was so fascinating about the untold story of the iPhone was that producing such simplicity, wasn't a simple process. In fact it was complex and there were numerous times for the whole thing to get derailed.

The iPhone is a great metaphor for the church. We want a process at Big Creek that is clear and simple for anyone to navigate through. But in order to get that, the staff and ministry leaders have to wrestle through tons of complexity and do a lot of heavy lifting.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now that I've stopped drooling...

In light of this post on the new Macbook Air, I need to read this post: Tech Lust: How to Cope with Gadget Envy

Here are a couple of points

1. Avoid advertising.
2. Avoid temptation.
3. Remember it’s not a competition.
4. Make the most of what you have.
5. Remember your larger goals.

(HT: Get Rich Slowly )

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Real snow in Atlanta

Hey, it is snowing and sticking. This is the first real snow fall since we moved here over 2 years ago. And yes, if you live up North, I know that you are laughing, but this is a nice treat. Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm drooling....




The MacBook Air will be on sale for $1,799 by the end of the month. It measures 0.76 inches at its thickest point and has the same 80 gigabyte, 1.8 inch hard drives that Apple uses in its iPod digital music players.

American Idol

Hooray! This is the fun part of the show...watching the many train wrecks!

Twins Married?


A set of twins married each other in England. The twist is, they were both adopted by other families, separated at birth, and they had no idea that they were twins!

I guess that this story blows the myth that this kind of thing only happens in West Virginia! Of course in West Virginia they do it on purpose! In West Virginia guys go to family reunions in order just to find a wife. (I have West Virginian joke immunity since my wife's family is originally from there!)

Here is an excerpt from the story....
"They were never told that they were twins," he (Lord Alton) said during the Dec. 10 debate on a law covering human fertility and embryology. They had been adopted by separate families and "met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."

More about the whole story HERE


Monday, January 14, 2008

UnChristian in the Media

Good to see my friend Gabe get some face time in media outlets such as CNN and to be able to communicate the message of his book. I am currently in the middle of reading this book UnChristian (awesome stuff, I will be blogging about it later). But for now, here is Gabe's interview on CNN.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I've been tagged by Tony Stiff

I was asked these questions by Tony Stiff (Sets ‘n’ Service )

ONE BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE

Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos (This book became a paradigm shift in the way that I saw and understood God and the Scriptures, I haven't been the same since)

ONE BOOK THAT YOU’VE READ MORE THAN ONCE

Biography of George Muller by Basil Miller (George Muller's life of faith has been an inspiration that I continually go back to.)

ONE BOOK YOU’D WANT ON A DESERT ISLAND

The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards
(With this two volume collection, I would be kept plenty busy and I wouldn't be tempted to have to talk to a volleyball named Wilson.)

















TWO BOOKS THAT MADE YOU LAUGH


Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (well written, honest and winsome.)

The Di Vinci Code by Dan Brown (I read it in 2 days while sitting at the pool, it was an interesting story and easy to read book, but I laughed throughout the entire book that people I know were taking this silly book more seriously than the Bible.)

ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides (I cried at the brutality that the men faced in the prison camps and the for the courage of the men who went to rescue them.)












ONE BOOK YOU WISH HAD BEEN WRITTEN


"How to provide for a family by living on a tropical island while all day laying in a hammock and reading books" - if I could do it, I would!


















ONE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING


UnChristian by Kinnaman and Lyons (This book has got me thinking, there is a lot here to digest.)

ONE BOOK YOU’VE BEEN MEANING TO READ

Londonistan by Melanie Phillips (This book has been on my list for a while, and this post makes it even more apparent that I need to get reading this book soon.)

















I tag:

Trey Adams
Caleb Click
Tim Patterson
Jason Curlee
Adam Walker

You're it!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let the war begin!

Coffee war begins between McDonalds and Starbucks

This means the consumer wins!


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Giving "First Impressions" a Little Love

I have another blog called "First Impressions"

Provocative Church is a blog that speaks on culture, my life, missional living and gospel-centered faith. Those are some of the big buckets that many of my posts fit into.

First Impressions is my freshman blog (only a couple of months old) that focuses more on Ministry's best practices. Volunteers, Communication, Reaching out to Guests on Sunday morning, and Leading Teams are some of the topics covered, just to name a view.

I want to introduce you to some of the more interesting posts over at "First Impressions". I hope that you will go over there and check it out, and show a little love by subscribing either by email or it's RSS feed.

Poor Communication Skills
(communication)
The Doors are Always Open (humor)
Death by Powerpoint (communication)
Lessons from Disney (first impressions)
How to get People to Read and Respond to your Email (communication)
How to Recruit and Communicate More Effectively (communication)
Turkey's Need Not Apply (greeting guests and humor)

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Monday, January 07, 2008

We are of the world but not in the world


This is a very thoughtful and provocative post by J.D. Greear. Here is an excerpt, (but you need to read the whole thing)
Samson and the Evangelical Community

....Scholars agree that Samson was a picture of the entire Israeli nation. Rather than confronting the world, they absorbed its values.

Rather than engaging the culture, they retreated from it; rather than confronting the culture, they absorbed it. In other words, they were of the world but not in it.

Sadly, I think this describes our American evangelical Christian community. We are separated from the world, living in Christian enclaves reading Christian literature, watching Christian TV, listening to Christian music and talking with only Christian friends. We are separated from the world.

Yet, when you look closely, we have absorbed our culture's values. St. Augustine said that our attitude toward money and power should be what distinguishes us from the world. However, we spend our money the same as the world does--primarily on ourselves. We seek and crave power and position just as they do. Even, and perhaps especially, among us pastors. Just look at how some pastors treat money and power.....

( HT: JDGreear.com)
The overall thrust of the article is a call for the people of God, esp. leaders in the church, to pursue holiness, surrender to God's love and repent from our idolatry. And if we are to allow Jesus to reign in our hearts and lives, His power would transform us and transform the culture around us.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Some headlines of interest....




I have been sobered recently by a couple of headlines that remind me of the need to remain fervent in prayer for the church around the world.





Christianity fading in Britain as Islamic extremism rising
A Church of England bishop laments the lost of Christianity in Britain as Islamic extremism is creeping into society which has turned local communities into “no-go” areas. (reading articles like this is why I am keeping the book "Londonistan' still on my must read list for this upcoming year.)
Afghan Clerics Warn Karzai Against Missionaries
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) — Afghanistan’s Islamic council has told President Hamid Karzai to stop foreign aid groups from converting local people to Christianity and has demanded the reintroduction of public executions. (this article is a reminder for me concerning the 2 Korean missionaries who lost their lives last year at the hands of Islam)


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I come across. I feel the need to share some of the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it throughout the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)




Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How to make "SMART" Resolutions


Happy New Year!

One of my favorite writings of Jonathan Edwards are his resolutions. Jonathan Edwards is widely considered the greatest mind that America has ever produced. And yet he wasn't merely a man who had cognitive knowledge, but he also had a deep abiding faith and communion with Jesus. It was during his first year of ministry that Edwards began writing these resolutions.

Here is a sample:

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

For Edwards these weren't resolutions the way that we think of them, rather they were concrete goals that became habits that were pressed down, in and through his life by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Studies say that less than 15% of all resolutions that are being made now for 2008 will actually be kept. Resolutions are frequently broken and usually abandoned with one misstep or failure. In contrast, concrete goals don’t evaporate in the face of adversity, hardship or laziness.

At Big Creek we say that goals should be “SMART” — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed. If they aren't "SMART" than they will never materialize or be achieved.

I am looking forward to this 2008 with expectation and faith. But before I look forward and set goals for this coming year, I need to reflect back on this past year.

Here are a couple of questions I am asking myself:

What was the best day of the year for me?

What was the worst day of the year?

What unachieved goals do I have left over from this past year?

What one thing I regret from the past year?

What one thing would I do different from the year?

Am I happy with where I am right now in my life?

And here are some questions that I ask myself as I plan and set goals for this upcoming year:

What are the three things I really need to work on in my life this year? I should list three SMART goals under each of these categories:personal development, spiritual, personal health/fitness, finances, and relationships (ie., my marriage, children)

Is there currently anything (or any relationship) that I need to cut out of my life in 2008?

Where do I want to be in the next five years? And then, what can I do in the next year to get closer to making my five year plan a reality?

And here are an assortment of thought provoking questions:

What can I risk this year for God, something that apart from God it would look like foolishness.

What hobby can I start in 2008 (I need to develop a healthy diversion)

What books would I like to read in 2008?

What is my Bible reading plan for 2008? Most likely I will use my One-Year Bible (NLT) click here for some options that you may want to consider (ht: Justin Buzzard)

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