Think About Sunday Before Sunday

This is a big challenge.

To get things right and build a great venue then it takes people who will think about Sunday before Sunday. If you don’t think about Church until you wake up on the Sunday morning then the decision you make about Church may be made purely on how you feel that day!

A building is not Church. The people coming together are. It is though, a vital ingredient to your success as a Christian. It is true that you get from it what you put in to it! I know I am the Xcel Darlington Pastor but being part of a vibrant, life-filled, relevant 21st Century Church is one of my core values. Without it my relationship with God would start to drift.

Take up this challenge…
…think about Sunday
…think about Church
…pray about Church
…be purposeful about what you bring, rather than being bothered about what you get
…let other things slip first before your time with God and other Christians does
…thinking about it makes it a value, creates purpose, helps you to own it and share the responsibility for making it the best it can be

Hope you agree?

Culture & Attitude

I think this a truth: allowing yourself to get immersed in the culture of a certain place takes a certain attitude. After all, every society, every region, every community, every team, every Church – they all have a certain culture. Even if it’s not designed, culture just happens by default.

As a Christian the Bible says a few things that I think can be related to culture. It says…

…that I live in the world but I am not of it.
…that greater is He that is me than he that is the world.
…that Jesus said that He had overcome the world.

It reminds me of the continuous need to make the right choices, of flesh v spirit. Whatever the culture I want to create as Pastor at Xcel Darlington, I must maintain a certain attitude towards it.

Remember whose I am.
Remember the bigger picture – it’s not mine, it’s Gods.
Remember that culture of itself is not wrong.
Remember to walk by faith and stay connected to God.

Anyway – just some thoughts…what do you think?

Building the House: Loving People

Building a great life, in my opinion, needs God! It’s what we were created for. Loving God is the starting point of the journey, loving people is the evidence of that love. But here’s the thing…

Loving people is easy.
Loving people like me is even easier.
Loving people who are not like me – not so easy. I mean, where are the points of connection, it doesn’t come natural…but I think that’s where the God relationship needs to kick in.

Building anything takes time, preparation, a plan. We are told to count the cost. Building great relationships are no different. Too many times though we are wrapped up in what we need from the relationship to truly consider the needs of the other person. Building life changing relationships that create a legacy and are about something bigger than you requires another level of giving…it involves sacrifice, laying down yourself, honesty, consistency in who you are and what you do, it demands being real and genuine. People are people, not targets for Jesus.

Jesus said some incredible things about loving people…
…love your neighbour as yourself
…love one another
…lay down your life for a friend
…love your enemy (ouch!)

I CANNOT DO THESE WITHOUT GODS LOVE

Learning to love people just because we must would change the landscape of our worlds. Everyone craves attention. Everyone wants to know that someone somewhere truly cares. We can be that. Christians should be that.

As a Pastor I am conscious that true connection produces powerful consequences, inside the Church and outside the Church too. It has to be in both arenas. We connect with people, God does the rest. We don’t fix. God does the fixing…that’s why we must be loving God first.

Connection brings protection, provision, friendship, accountability, partnership, support. You can’t tell me that people don’t want all that. That’s why at Xcel Church we will always start with loving God, offering people an opportunity to connect with God but will then be encouraging them to move on, get connected with others…in Church with Small Groups and ministry, outside Church with whatever…anything short of sin really, meeting people and just loving them.

Building the House

We start a new series on Sunday. I think I would describe it as a DNA message for Xcel Church, an opportunity to unpack the culture of Xcel across the region. I really believe that for Darlington this message is coming just at the right time.

I love preaching a series because we can take out time, making sure we discuss what needs to be talked about in respect of growing a thriving congregation in the heart of Darlington. Being part of Xcel Church is easy and my hope is that this message will help people find their place.

LOVING GOD
LOVING PEOPLE
LOVING LIFE

These are the 3 parts of church life at Xcel. It’s the culture – you cannot escape them. You don’t need to believe in God to come to Xcel but let’s be honest, our hope and prayer is that having been around for a while you would want to. I believe it’s what we were created to do.

So LOVING GOD…
…it’s the starting point of the greatest journey anyone can engage in
…it doesn’t mean you have all the answers
…it is the start of a lifelong courtship with God
…it’s like any relationship – it takes time to get know the other person, God is no different
…it’s about giving God His rightful place in your life
…it’s about loving with all your heart, your mind and your soul
…it’s being ready to keep moving forward as your love for God grows and matures

It might be considered ‘Step 1’ but it’s certainly not a destination in itself. Loving God is the launch pad into so much more. Building the House – everyone can play their part, hope you are ready to discover how. Sunday 11am Xcel Darlington, Dolphin Centre.

Culture Creation

I am not an expert in culture creation. However, I know that as a leader I must be intentional in creating the right culture – in my home & family, not just in Church. The learning curve is steep to climb at times.

Processing some stuff though.

I must act with intentionality. Letting things happen is unacceptable.

Creating the culture is key. Knowing what it must be. It’s something that anyone who is part of Xcel cannot avoid. Maybe it should hit them round the head like a piece of 2 by 4. Hope you sense what the culture is at Xcel Darlington.

Here are some of the things which I am thinking about at the moment which can effect the impact of my ability to create the right culture, positively or otherwise…

…attitude
…consistency
…people
…impatience
…determination

Loads more to talk about on this subject. Love your thoughts too. If you are passing through – what do you think impacts the creation of the right culture? How would you define the culture of your workplace, Church or team?

Anyone Ready For The Challenge?

Xcel Darlington is great. I know, I always say that but here’s the thing – it’s good and it has the potential to be so much better. Here’s what I am thinking…

…that to get us to the next level of growth will take more than me and Kerina being Pastors. It takes someone or many someone’s stepping up and taking ownership of Xcel Darlington – to do whatever it takes to create growth, connect with people, to build a thriving congregation.

…that I need to be more intentional in developing the team that consists of these people – talking about the culture of Xcel Darlington, of instilling some great leadership qualities in them, challenging them into sacrifice and really doing the ‘whatever’ that people often talk about.

…that without intentionality nothing changes and the danger is that in 6 months time we still have 80-100 people and never grow to 150-200.

If you are part of Xcel Darlington I’m thinking of doing some sort of intentional leadership training, just for 30-40 minutes, early on a Sunday morning, say 8.45am. What do you reckon? It would be challenging, stretching, it would be full-on leadership wisdom stuff – unpacking what Xcel Darlington could look like with 200 people and the type of people needed to make it happen.

It’s not a guarantee to greatness but it’s a start.

If you want to be a part of the next adventure for Xcel Darlington then let me know (even if you already have).

Vision + Culture

Creating the right culture is an essential part of bringing about the vision you see. I desire that everyone feels comfortable being part of Xcel Church Darlington – whatever their background, lifestyle or habits. We all came from somewhere, we just might be further on the journey than others when it comes to knowing Christ and living out our salvation.

These thoughts from the book No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke might help…
‘Our responsibility is not to make people grow or change. Our task is to create the right soil, a rich healthy environment, in which people can grow up in faith until the invisible God is made visible through His Body, the Church’

‘God is responsible for the growth, for changed hearts, but the soil is the responsibility of the the leaders and Christ-followers who make up that Church.’

These are great reminders that an ultra-modern, all-flashing, relevant vision is not enough. I must make sure that culture is right too. What is the soil like that I am asking people to get planted in? Is it only me that understands that or do the Church get the culture too?

The Words of Jesus 2

Continuing with the series on the Words of Jesus across our venues this Sunday. It’s such a vast topic that my Senior Pastor and I, even though we discussed the topic at some length, have both taken a slightly different angle for our messages.

It is very much a revelation thing. In my times of reflection this week I have thought much about how Jesus changed the culture through the words He spoke. He changed pre-conceived ideas about what God was like, who could reach God and how they could reach Him. The traditions that maybe kept some from entering were offensive to Jesus and He talked a different language which was much more inclusive and definitely more accessible.

Two more Sundays to go. This week we will be digging a little deeper into how Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, checking out some parables and also how He always gave faith the big up. It’s all BIG STUFF in this topic but I know the guys at Xcel Church Darlington can handle it!

Reading the Gospel with an investigative attitude certainly brings thoughts to mind. Imagining how people felt hearing those words for the first time, those sharp intakes of breath, the realisation that they were included – must have been so exciting. No wonder they thought that Jesus was a revolutionary who had come to set up a new kingdom.

I think our role is to echo the words of Jesus in our lives each day. That sounds easier writing it than doing it, but the challenge of living the lifestyle He desires is worth it because of the rewards it brings – to us and more importantly, those we come into contact with.