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Scott Thomas (Acts 29) on Replanting

September 5, 2009

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Scott Thomas, Director of the Acts 29 Network, has a great article at The Resurgence on church planting.  Scott has great experience in this area, and I love what he has laid out for us.

Q 2009 Austin – Day One Reflections

April 27, 2009

Day one at Q wrapped up today.  I missed the evening session with Shane Hipps so that I could keep my Monday night meeting with the Soma Austin men.  They make sacrifices to come together and I have a great time with them so it was an easy decision to spend time with our men.

I will confess that I am pretty much conferenced-out at this point.  After so many you hear the same thing repeatedly by guys who have said it a dozen ways already.  And so many conferences are for the already convinced or stay at such a introductory level that I just can’t do it anymore.  But Q seems to promise something more.  Something smaller, a more interactive format and fresh voices that I may not be exposed to normally.  And it is in Austin this year so I get to kiss my wife and kids each morning and evening.

Overall it was pretty much what I expected.  Some familiar friends saying familiar things with a few new voices saying new things, but not groundbreaking.  Well, except for the youth pastor working on nuclear disarmament, that was new to me, and I was glad to see it.  My best take-aways from today:

  • Allan Hirsch describing attractional as ‘extractional’, that in attracting people to our churches, we are often extracting them from their places of influence and people they know.  This is against our incarnational calling.
  • Joel Kotkin had some interesting perspectives on the suburbs and proposed future suburbs of villages with cultural centers in them.  This is actually similar to something in mind that Cid Galindo who ran for city council was promoting.  (This is not necessarily an endorsement of Cid, just an observation.  For the record, I liked his ideas on this.)
  • I didn’t know a ton about Gabe Lyons going in to today, but I left feeling a deep respect and appreciation for his growth over the past few years.  He is a thinker with deep convictions and he acts on them.  I think I always lumped him with Catalyst, and I keep wanting Catalyst to grow up in some areas.  It is clear that by God’s grace Gabe has been grown by God over the past few years.

Overall Q wasn’t groundbreaking today, but that is probably because I have been diligently trying to break ground through my own studies.  But it is being used to confirm some things, and I am hopeful for tomorrow.  Oh, and Shane Hipps might have been awesome, but I missed it.  But the men of Soma Austin are awesome also.

Some things to check out:

http://www.qideas.com

http://www.twofuturesproject.org

Some of my background

April 14, 2009

A friend from one of our network churches asked me to share a little about my background, so here goes.

I ran from God much of my early life. I was an agnostic who wished he was an atheist. I always knew if I acknowledged God he was gonna ask me to do something I didn’t want to do. Fast forward to 1997 when a Christian women’s organization hired me to handle their conference merchandise operations. (Insert lots of crazy God-ordained backstory on the hiring). I was responsible for merch sales and flew home with $120k to $150k in cash from each event, and threw it in my closet until Monday morning when it went to the office. One weekend I piled it all up on a coffee table, counted out $120k and was scared/excited at the same time. I managed to put it back in the bag that week, but not the next week. Over four months I went nuts and stole about $75,000 from them. In August 1998 I had this moment of lucidity where I woke up and said, “I don’t do this, this isn’t who I am.” I committed to ‘do better’ and only stole about $10,000 over the next year.

Unable to ‘do better’ I tried to leave the company several times, only to hear a voice “Somethings not done yet”.  So I stayed. About June 1999 my depravity and the beauty of Jesus begin to collide more. After feeling like “I was gonna become one these Christians” I started reading Mere Christianity and The Cost of Discipleship. I was right. It was gonna cost me everything and God was gonna ask me to do something I didn’t want to do.

After some more God ordained moments resulting in inspired conversations and many anguished tears, I repented and trusted Christ on August 12, 1999. I was absolutely wrecked for Christ and had a new passion for my work. But I had this unconfessed thing hanging over me. I wanted to walk in to my bosses office everyday for six weeks, but I was a coward and didn’t. On October 2, 1999 God orchestrated a way for me to ask for His strength and to confess to my employer what I had done. They called the FBI and the FBI contacted me. I cooperated, pled guilty and received a 17 month sentence in federal prison. My time in prison was kind of like seminary for me. I devoured the bible and any books I could find in the prison library. God was gracious to me my entire life and continues to be to this day.

Since being released from prison I have reconciled with many of my former co-workers, now have a wonderful God-loving bride, two young children that are freaking awesome, God brought me to The Village Church where I went on staff as a pastor, and now God has seen fit to send me to Austin, TX to start a new church here. We started a Sunday morning service this Easter (last week) and had 56 people, many of them renewed by the gospel through Soma Austin over the past six months. Not much in the overall picture maybe, but a glorious thing to participate in, and a glorious gift to me and my family.

Last night we had our SomaAustin Men’s meeting at a local coffeeshop. A homeless girl (Kelly) asked for some money for beer. One of our guys (who has recently been renewed by gospel truth) offered her a beer and invited her to sit with us. She did and we had our men’s meeting and talked about Jesus. During our conversation, God gave us some great gifts.

To an ex-con that ran from God and stole from a para-church organization, they are God’s precious gift of grace and mercy. Please pray for Kelly, and for our small church in Austin.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life: Free Audio Download

March 1, 2009

Check out this months free audiobook of the month from ChristianAudio.com

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

from their website:

“It’s not uncommon for an accomplished musician to be able to sit down in front of a new piece of music and play it through without a hitch. To make it seem easy, as if it required no effort. Yet the “freedom” to play with such skill comes only after years of disciplined practice. In the same way, the freedom to grow in godliness – to naturally express Christ’s character through your own personality – is in large part dependent on a deliberate cultivation of the spiritual disciplines.”

Learn more about the book here or if you are ready to download it, click here, and add the download format of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life to your cart and then enter the coupon code MAR2009 when prompted during checkout.

Our Price: $0.00
List Price: $14.98
Coupon: MAR2009

Rick McKinley’s Reflections on the Ministry

February 6, 2009

Rick McKinley of Imago Dei Community rarely blogs, but when he does it is always good for my spirit to hear it.  Check out his six reflections on the ministry that God has granted him.

Living Water International

January 9, 2009

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I just got finished meeting with Brandon Baca of Living Water InternationalSoma Austin raised some funds for Living Water through December and we are excited to partner with them in the future.  Brandon shared some great stories and ways to get involved.  Here are a few:

  • Sponsor a shallow well – $5000
  • Sponsor a deep well – $10,000
  • Take a team to dig a well – varies in price, but was reasonably compared to others.
  • Give through their Facebook Cause
  • They are also working on a microgiving concept as well
  • Send a team long term for comprehensive development

I was most excited by their coming microgiving concept and by the long term community development ideas.  More than the water, they bring education, health and work to build the local economy all while working with and through local pastors and community leaders.  And unlike some well digging organizations, anyone in the community has access to clean drinking water.

Contact Brandon Baca (brandon at water.cc) for more info.  He is in Austin for a few days and would love to meet with anyone who would join him.

Missional Community Leadership Conference

January 2, 2009

Acts 29 and Austin Stone are hosting a great looking conference in February that is focusing on vision and training of missional community leaders, including layleaders and pastors.

Check it out and register here.