Ancarrow..the blog

Welcome to "Ancarrow...the blog," a place for us to share some random thoughts as we help start new churches in MD.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ravens & Colts (Oh, how the times turn)

I returned this week from a the 2nd midwest tour in two weeks. Over Thanksgiving, we visited family and shared at Fairview Christian Church, a church that has blessed us tremendously since our decision to move. Last week, I paid a visit to Indy to preach in Danville at NCC (my old stomping ground), and to visit some potential future partners. It was also a great time to see old friends. All this, I should mention, took place over the one-year anniversary of our departure from Danville and our arrival in Annapolis.

So much has changed in a year. One needs to look no further than the current Colts vs. Ravens game to prove that (Baltimore is up 24-3). In my time in Indy, the Ravens NEVER beat the Colts. Peyton always had the answer for the storied Ravens defense. Now, the Colts are 0-12 with no shot of winning anytime soon. I'd like to say it's because of my absence, though I'm fairly certain #18 has something to do with it.

Another example: Danville's Dairy Queen. This small town walk up stand caused quite a stir by closing every October. It's closure for the winter was a funeral for the warmth. It's spring reopening was a town holiday. It always felt like something out of a Mellencamp song. Now, it's got new ownership and is open all year. All week long - I didn't see a single person there. Instead, I hear that the Hoosiers discovered fro-yo - and thus, a new hotspot a few miles away.

Things are changing here in Annapolis too. Every week at Revolution is an adventure. Many things are on the horizon for this young church. There is a steady stream of new faces. Others have already moved out of town. The room is getting fuller and fuller. At the same time, each passing week is one week closer to the date when whatever next chapter there is for us in terms of starting new churches in Baltimore. While exciting, this fact is often quite overwhelming for this creature of habit.

Pierre Garcon just a dropped a touchdown pass. Maybe some things never change.




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

So, what do you on Monday?

Every Monday afternoon I go into church planter mode. Last year, this consisted of trying to figure out where I was going to live in Annapolis, and trying to make sure the house in Indiana was sold.Now, every Monday consists of exploring neighborhoods around Baltimore, trying to find the place that God is leading our family to plant a church. Sometimes, this means read demographics, research, and making phone calls to people who live in the city and know what they’re doing (usually hoping that they’ll call or email back). Usually, it means getting out, walking around, seeing, smelling, and experiencing the city – it’s good, bad, and ugly (could it get uglier than that Ravens game yesterday?) Every now and then, I discover something awesome (example: Zeke’s coffee – amazing). Sometimes, I go to a place that I never want to visit again.

The process is exciting. This process has been like a puzzle. It’s exciting to see new places. Each week we tell Reese that we’re going “exploring.” Literally, this is what we get to do. I’ve been blown away. There are places in Baltimore where I’ve heard 3 or 4 different languages spoken. There are places with way too many Steeler flags and Yankee hats. Along the way, I’ve met amazing people all over the city who are contending for the gospel. I’ve seen little churches that are loving their neighborhoods well, despite the fact that no one outside that neighborhood will EVER know who they are. I’ve met amazing individuals who are trying to live out their faith in an urban context, even when their flesh makes them wonder if they’re missing out on something nicer in the ‘burbs.

The process is frightening. In this situation, I simply don’t want to be wrong. Where does God want us? What would he have us do? What does this mean for my girls? What does this mean for my wife? How much will this cost? How do I balance being a steward of my family, and sacrificing all for the gospel? What is too easy? What is too hard? While I know this is God’s Church, flesh can creep in easily.

The process is complex. Today, the contrast of Baltimore really stood out to me. I pass rows of beautiful houses in a quiet neighborhood that looks like the main street of an old farm town….then I pass a block of grit – literally, entire blocks that are vacant and boarded. Economies have failed. Governments have failed. There is fatherlessness, extreme poverty, few fair wage jobs to be hard, poor education, and, While I believe the answer is God work through the local church, this simply not as easy as it sounds. The processes for bringing change will move slowly.

The process is hope-giving. My hope is that there comes a day when we are part of movement of creating churches in neighborhoods all through Baltimore. Even if the doors slammed in my face, and this plant never materialized, it’s been amazing to see people pouring themselves our to see the name of Jesus made famous is Baltimore. There is hope for this city.

The process is still in process. No answers yet..We’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SWEEP!

Now, T-Sizzle, could you please stop complimenting big wins with losses to teams like Jacksonville? That way, if there's a round 3, it can be in Baltimore for once?

Also, I'm guessing #95 in the upper left is giving his standard "Stiller" answer..."got 6?" Suggs is saying, "no, we've got one, but our franchise is a 1/3 of your age. Please write some new material."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick of Treat - with burgers & brats

Tonight (and last Friday night at Annapolis Towne Center), for the first time in what seems like forever, I took the kids trick or treating. There were no Halloween alternatives this year - instead, we gathered with friends and hit the neighborhood of Matt & Becky Murphy. We're not really into Halloween (and we're not anti-alternatives, we're equally apathetic), but we do love an excuse to hang out with our friends.

We began with jumping in on a cookout/collaborative trick or treat station that was going on in the neighborhood.. Here, several families in the neighborhood gathered to eat and hang out during the treat or treating time. Think of it as Halloween tailgating. I haven't done this in a really long, long time - so maybe that's normal. Regardless, I've never seen it. Matt tells me that most of these families have been in this neighborhood for 10+ years. They were open and generous, talking freely about life, struggles, and a few PG-13 topics. They brought out the best food - and gave away the best candy. I'm not naive enough to think that this happens all the time, but I impressed that it happened at all.

We went exploring Baltimore today - dreaming, exploring, trying to find out where God may be leading us. No major revelations today; in fact, today raised more questions than answers. What is clear though is that the church is my head embodies what I witnessed during trick or treating today. Today, this is what is making my head spin.



While I'm at it




Monday, October 17, 2011

On A Mission from God.

Revolution is off to great start with the 2nd service. Attendance has been up as a result of another service option, but what's more exciting to me is that 1. Brand new coming are finding us each week and visiting for the first time and 2. There have been some really cool next steps happening in the lives of people that have been coming to Revolution for a long time. For example, this past weekend, Amber baptized one of our friends to conclude the Women's Retreat. It's humbling to be a part of what God is doing here.

Revolution Annapolis is a year old next week. The other day, I was thinking about the the day after launch. I sat down with Josh and Tim at Panera (our office at the time), for what ended up being a four hour staff meeting. The theme of that meeting was, largely, "what the heck do we do now?" "Did we mess things up so badly that no one will come to week 2? I don't remember a single conclusion we came to that day - so I'm glad that God knows what He's doing.

Life is good all around. Emery is playing soccer - which is going decently well. She loves it, at least most of the time. I do coach...and while the K-1st graders are cute and fun, I have to say that I miss the high school coaching experience. I tried to follow along with the Danville soccer team as best as I could, but that's easier said than done.

I've been taking Reese on scouting trips around Baltimore recently, seeking out the different neighborhoods and areas. In Reese's mind, "Baltimore" is only "Baltimore" when we're at the Inner Harbor. If we're in any other neighborhood - or even tourist attraction (Ft. McHenry, for exmaple), Reese is quick to say that we're not in the city. Funny: Most adults I know act the same way.

God really seems to have directed our heart to a particular area of the city right now. While that hasn't led us to a specific neighborhood per se, it's at least nice to feel like we know where to explore. The opportunity to explore Baltimore thoroughly has been really stinking cool. I'll refrain from saying any more than that at this point in time, until things sure up a bit. If you really want to know, let's have coffee.

There are days when the reality that we're leaving Annapolis to plant a church in a year is absolutely overwhelming to me...in so many ways, I still ask myself, "why me?" and "what if I do this and no one in Baltimore cares?" In those moments, I can think of about 10 reasons why about 100 more people are better suited and qualified to do what it is we want to do. In these moments (sometimes days later), it always seems to come back to the fact that God has ways of reminding me that He knows what he's doing. Today, while praying about my visit to a certain neighborhood and feeling a great deal of weight about having to leave Annapolis one day, God put this thought on my heart:

You've based a ton of how you feel right now on what you know about yourself & what you lack... What would be different if you based where you're being lead on what you know about me, and how I lack NOTHING?

I've been reminded that the Missio Dei is my mission as well. Praise God that he would allow me to play a role in proclaiming His name.

Scott Ancarrow: on a mission from God.







Monday, September 26, 2011

2 ND SERVICE LAUNCHED!

Yesterday, Revolution Annapolis launched its 2nd service. The date was a phenomenal one for our church, seeing 170+ in attendance, many of whom were new faces. AFter church, we baptized three people in the Chesapeake. There seems to be some really cool open doors in our city right now. For example, our proximity to the Naval Academy makes it easy for the Mids to walk to church, then go out to eat afterward. Last year, when the Academy welcomed their new Plebes, Revolution was a small gathering of people with a big idea that met in the back of a restaurant at the mall.

The decision to go to a 2nd service pressed our definition of comfort. We knew it was a need last spring, but knew that we needed to navigate it well. Our venue was elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder. While a far cry from underground catacombs, it was tough to see a new person come into the room and only find a seat on the front row (which, by the way, Revolutionaries, is something we should not make them do. Get some earplugs. Move up front). We worried about burning out our volunteers, nobody showing up, and a myriad of other logistical issues. Frankly, most of all, I was afraid to fail.

It's one Sunday...and not every Sunday is a storybook conference kind of Sunday (young church planters - read that line again...and then again...). Revolution still has a ton of challenges and opportunities to grow in maturity. I still need to make sure our volunteer teams walk the tension of vision, needs, and sabbath well. Yet, it's really cool to see God show up when you, and your community of faith, put yourselves in positions where you NEED God to show up. If I've learned anything so far from my time at Revolution, it's that these kinds of stories are the ones worth telling.

We're not there yet. Not by far. But I'm praising God for what He did in our city this weekend.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Tyrannosaurus Rex attack to report...yet.

Man, I'd have a lot less to say if I blogged more than once a month.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, power outages, equipment failures, floor changes and hotel reconstruction. These are some of the challenges that we've faced in the past month, as a church and as a community. I've got to tell you though: I'm having fun...and it's not just because the Steelers got walloped by the Ravens in week 1.


This week, I'm working on the final preparations for two services. This includes both the creative and logistical preparations necessary in doing so. I'm excited to get this new season going at Revolution.






Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soggy Shoes & the prowess of the Burnetts


The downside to this morning: The hotel space where Revolution meets has been under renovation throughout the month. Long term, it will take a cool space and make it look even cooler. However, each week of the month, this will provide a curve ball of some sort. Today, we arrived to find out that the lower level, where all of gear is loaded through, was inaccessible. With that change, we lost the rain coverage of the parking garage- and had to move the truck to the front of the main entrance. In doing so, we lost time, rhythm, and our sense of dryness. All morning my feet felt like I had just ridden the old White Water Canyon ride @hersheypark.


The upside to this morning:
1. Josh Burnett is a man of many talents. He preached a great sermon, but watching the man back a truck and trailer through the light at Loew's/West Street is nothing short of impressive. Had his mirrors not fogged, he wouldn't have even needed a guide. I am told he gets this gift from his mom. If this is part of my church planting future, I am in need of much jedi training.

2. Hooray Baptism!

3. Happy Birthday, Matt Ancarrow

4. Our friend at Village Church Buffalo launched their preview services today. I don't have details, but I heard the morning went "great." Check them out here. http://www.villagechurchbflo.com/

Quick Family update:
Emery starts kindergarten in two weeks. So far, there are no reports of "Butterfly Kisses" moments from mom and dad. I may, however, rock "Sweet Child O Mine" every hour of the first day of school. Additionally, Emery is signed up to play soccer this fall. Since I (Scott) am not coaching this summer, I've decided to try and assist in her league. So, when you see the 5 year olds running sprints and setting up set pieces, you'll know why.

Reese is not playing soccer on a team this fall, but is slowly conquering bladder/bowel control. Additionally, she's memorized her first Bible verse. Hooray for both.

Scott and Amber are still proficient in bladder control . Also, we love each other.




Monday, August 8, 2011

David, Saul, and "My God."

Today has featured some hard shell crabs, the 10th O's game I've been to this season, another O's Loss, and some time well spent with my brother and dad. As Monday turns to Tuesday, I find myself up late reflecting.

My reflections are stuck between two different trains of thought. On one hand, I'm trying to come up with a creative/catchy/funny/(you get it) title and trajectory of our upcoming fall sermon series. I don't like anything I've come up with, and am thus frustrated by the creative dryness. I used be good at this stuff. eh. Maybe there needs to be more buffalo wings at this late night session....that always seemed to work in Danville.

The other side of me has been wrestling with what I'm taking away from the David series that we are preaching at Revolution this summer. For the third straight week, the sermon has not ended with a pretty bow. The lessons we're learning from David seem to deviate from so many of the behavior modification-based OT sermons I've heard over the years. For the third straight week, David's life, even in making the right decisions, has been rooted in drama. He's been told no. He has naysayers...and those who are out for his head. David is indeed called to Kingship, but his "best life now" is a life of drama coupled with his need to trust that God will keep his promises.

My friend and I were talking about Saul this past week (OT King, not apostle), and how he contrasts David. We sometimes feel like it's easy to dismiss Saul as crazy; however, we fail to discuss what drives him to that point. Saul, at the end of the day, like to know the plan. He wants the details ,and to know how every story ends; specifically, when those plans affect him. In the end, it drives him to madness, divination, and fits of rage.

Is this all that different from us? Is our need to have "the plan" (an American god, for sure) the root of a lot of the crazy things that come out of us?

More than any other season of my life, I feel Saul's tension. The pursuit of "the plan" does the same for me. When it works, it gives me feed back and affirmation. When I know it and get it, or write it myself, it organizes things logically. It makes sense to me. When it goes wrong, I search for answers, try harder and harder, lose sleep, and spent time fearing what I've done wrong.

For three straight weeks , I've watched David simply trust that God's kingdom, God's story, is bigger and better than His own. Obviously, he wouldn't write the script the way that God does. yet, as of 2 Samuel 7, he submits to a bigger promise that doesn't yield immediate results.

I need to "be" like David in this: the role I play in being a child of God is of far greater worth and value than any plan or manifesto I can write for life, my kids' lives, or the lives of the people I love.

This is especially true as we seek to start a new church down the road.
The following goes through my mind frequently:

Where are we going?
Will the money come in?
What if no one wants to come to the new church?
What if I fail?
How do I know _______(this covers a myriad of things).
AND, most of all,

BUT I'm not like _____________.(insert successful stories here)


Saul lets what he doesn't know choke out what has been revealed to him in the narrative of 1 & 2 Samuel; namely, That God is real, His covenants are true, and He desires to be near. Saul exchanges what he sees for the pursuit of self-preservation.

In the past, I've always disliked the phrase "man after God's own heart" when it was attributed to David. It never really made sense to me - especially in light of the failures that are ahead in 2 Samuel. The meaning is becoming clearer to me as we study this summer. We often praise David for what he DID do, what he DIDN'T do, and what we need to avoid based on David's life. Rarely do we say, "David trusted God, waited it out, and was obedient to God's ways even when it didn't make a lot of sense. In that, God did some really awesome stuff through him - stuff way different than what he's draw up for himself. "

Yes, I'm called be a steward. But if I worship the "plan" over the God who's written it and knows what's best, I am driven to modern madness.

Here's what's going through my head today: If the Ancarrows fail by earthly standards, God is still good. If God refines this vision to something that doesn't matched what I've slapped on brochures and websites, I'm not a disgrace. I'm His child, and a part of His kingdom. Consequently, my job isn't to succeed for him; my job is to "be" - to live in Christ and showcase a bigger story than my own.

Forgive me Father for worshipping the pursuit of "the plan." Help me to "be."






Friday, July 29, 2011

MD, KY, TN, MD, CO, MD. Boom.

The title represents the Ancarrow Family's travel itinerary for the past two weeks. During this time, we briefly stepped away from Annapolis to share what's going on in MD, as well as to preach and teach with some events we love. Amber went to KY to serve at Fairview Christian Church, who supported us through their offerings. I went to TN to work with CIY's "Know Sweat" event, and then on to NYR in Colorado. To limit the length of this blog post, I'll share some of my favorite moments from the past two weeks via a "top 10" list.

10. Preaching at Ringgold on our way to Kentucky. This was the first time I'd done so since 2002. Though I didn't know a bulk of the people at the church, it was great to see the ones I did. Though a brief stop on the journey, I was reminded of all the people who are supportive of us, even from a distance.

9. Reese joining the "I get motion sick in the van and then puke" club. Not a favorite moment, just a reality.

8. TN Bbq. Thank you, Ridgewood BBQ. for the sweet tea/pulled pork combo. I love saucy bbq - and this recommended spot did not let me down.

7. NYR - Colorado- The drive from Denver's airport to Sedalia is a great window into why NYR is a great event. If you haven't seen the Rockies, I'd suggest you make a road trip.

6. Meeting different youth workers. From the staff of CIY Know Sweat & NYR to the youth leaders themselves. I love the guys and gals who are getting dirty and loving students well. I am humbled to be part of these group's journeys for a few days at a time, and love being able to play a part in ministering to their students. I met guys and gals from lots of different contexts: urban, rural, big church, small church...all were a blessings.

5. NYR morning session. Preaching with the mountains behind you - in sunglasses and shorts. It's a blessing to commit such forms of heresy in preaching God's word . ha. I even managed to not sunburn this time...

4. Being in the "A" section of southwest's boarding process both times to CO. What has two thumbs and loves and aisle seat ? Answer: this guy. By the way, if you're into music, I watched a documentary called "It Might Get Loud" while coming back from CO. In it, Jack White, Bono, and Jimmy Page meet together and tell their respective journeys toward playing electric guitar. Very interesting.

3. Connecting with CIY staff and NYR's staff/speakers. I love the people that I learned from these past two weeks. Through intentional conversations, to the moments where I just got to observe and listen to people; all in all, the trip were greatly edifying. I'll drop one name in particular here. Scott Ensminger is a mentor of mine. He hired me when I was a young kid who didn't know anything, and didn't want to move to the midwest. In one year, he taught me a ton, and his family's kindness (monday night football and Madden, tater tot casserole, doing laundry at his house, and then later selling it to me) has played a major role in who I am today. It was great to see his family, and to continue to be blessed by them. It's humbling to be able to help him pull off a great event like NYR.

2. Student Ministry. I love students. While I am sure of my calling to start a movement of new churches in MD, I hope I never lose touch with jr. high and high school students. I got to some some climb on the roof of an elderly lady's house to fix it (TN - Know Sweat). Others gave their life to Christ...others were there to baptize a friend.

1. My family. Life moves fast, and it's easy to lose sight of the one's you love the most as you try to help other people. It's time for some dates with each of my girls....


Monday, June 27, 2011

O's /Reds game with the In-laws


We took the girls to their first O's game yesterday. They had a blast. Consider the evidence.


video
Poor Quality and Hard to Hear - but this is a sampling of how Reese spent the entire 9th Inning of Yesterday's O's game. By the end, even Papaw couldn't help but hope that the O's pulled it out against the Reds.



In the 6th inning, which was particularly long, Emery, Reese, and I gave her Papaw a tour of Camden Yards. As we came to the end of the circle around Emery said, "When do we get to go back and watch the game?"


Monday, June 13, 2011

God working in the Chaos - a plea on a Church Planting Monday

This post was motivated by a friend in Indiana, who said they'd like to see more of our "Church planting" life through the lens of the blog. This is my attempt do so.


SUNDAY 6/5:
6:35 a.m. - I am running late for church. Trying to be a hero, I decide to forego a coffee run to get to church at normal time, only to find traffic at a stand still downtown. Scott waits, waits, and then cuts someone off to U-turn quickly. Horn honks are exchanged, and I already find myself needing to repent. I have no choice, as I know that today's sermon was about loving people.

6:45 a.m. - I am now going the long way to get to church. I'm also officially late. Repenting, I stop and get coffee anyway (I'm already late at this point).

7:00 a.m. - Revolution adapts to a different setup than normal. The elementary kids are placed in a room far far away. to get to this room, you have to pass the breakfast bar. Scott gets visions of bacon chaos. The move affects every ministry team in some manner, and though nothing went wrong, we all feel a little tense.

9:30 a.m. - I volunteer to watch the preschool kids during the volunteer meeting. In this 10 minutes, every one of the kiddos finds a way to a meltdown.

10-11 a.m. Church happens. People get ministered to and loved on, though most are at least 25-30 minutes late due to the traffic mentioned above.

11 a.m. - 12:30. We tear down. Things get put away. Before that can happen, we have to go battle with an engineer who blows up on our team for elevator usage. Staff member diffuses the situation, exposing a lack of communication amongst their staff. Truck closes and is loaded up just as a fire alarm goes off at the hotel.

_______

SUNDAY, 6/12
1:30.a.m.-ish - Josh and Sarah bring baby Grady into the world.

6:30 - Since contingencies were in place for the above event, things go smooth on the front end. In fact, setup goes quicker than normal, at first. We're winning.

7:45 - Video team leader wants to meet to discuss the slides for the morning. In the process, propresenter closes, and she loses all of her work, which had not been saved.

9:40 - morning is ready to go. I touch base with Video team leader, who has manually re-entered everything. As we sit down to meet, ProPresenter crashes again. Video team scrambles and gets worship re-entered as it gets ready to start.

10 a.m. - Church happens. People get ministered to and loved on. We makes some cuts to media for my sermon, but the morning otherwise happens with little incident.

We tear down. We sweat ... a lot.

_______

We have a great team of people that make Revolution happen. I am not sure I'm overstating it when I say that there are blood, sweat and tears that go into every Sunday of ministry. The Holy Spirit moves...people come to know Jesus. There's a phenomenal team that loves Jesus and want Annapolis to know Him. However, the pursuit of that goal is downright exhausting. We drink too much coffee (well, maybe just me). We're emotionally drained. Working hard to help people lift the masks they wear on a Sunday will only intensify this, as vulnerability exposes the full effects that sin has on a person's life.

Starting on each of these Mondays that followed, it's my (and the staff's) job make sure that what can be addressed to make the next week smoother is in fact addressed. Additionally, it's my job to think through how to create a plan for continued growth and forward motion. Somedays, it makes me want to shut down. Other days, it makes me want to charge hell with a squirt gun.

Christian, where does your energy come from? How do you refuel? If not, you will be useless as Christian. You'll be useless to the kingdom. You'll be useless to your family in terms of spiritual legacy. You'll simply be reactionary to circumstance. You'll rise and fall with adrenaline.

In the past six months, words like "Sabbath," "meditation,' and "God's Word," are becoming more than a Pharasaic, legalistic set of check-down procedures to for me. They are my bread. I need Jesus, not just a Savior, but as Lord of my days. These things are ways to maintain my relationship with Him. They are not the check marks for a "good day", a la health and wealth gospel. Without them, my attitude of seeing God work through chaos (VICTORY) quickly becomes, "God, I'm too tired for this" (VICTIM)

Brother, sister: keep fighting for Jesus and His Kingdom. Keep sacrificing your time. Give more than you thought you could, and see Him do more with it than you thought He would. However, it's that not rooted in knowing Jesus personally, prepare for a slow fade.

In saying all of this, I almost walked away from a planned retreat day this month, citing the "busyness" of my team and wide variety of things to prepare. I have a wicked heart.

However, you'll be glad to know that it's back on the calendar. Your accountability is appreciated.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

O's WIN! (Game three of my goal for the summer)

Grand Slam or Strikeout. The section full of cynical Marylanders around me voted strike out. After all, it is Mark Reynolds, isn't it? The Orioles score 1.72654niner runs per game, and they already had their 1. This is inevitable, right?

The Pitch came. The bat struck the ball, and it became obvious that the cynics in section 18 were wrong.

Mark Reynolds: Grand Slam. A few innings later, Orioles win 5-3.

Mind blown....and the perfect end to a two-date weekend. This is game three of my twelve game goal. Game Four Tuesday night.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Reblogging a great article - 10 reasons to not join a church plant

Top 10 Reasons Not to Join a Church Plant

buzzard

Originally appeared http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/top-10-reasons-not-to-join-a-church-plant/

Justin Buzzard is a new member of Acts 29, planting a church in San Jose.

A few months ago I moved my family to San Jose to start Garden City Church. The day we moved we had three adults committed to the church plant. It was a move of faith.

After getting settled, the first thing I did was hold an informational meeting about the church plant. I hoped twenty people would show up. Sixty-one people attended the meeting. The turnout was comprised almost entirely of Christians from a variety of other churches in the area, the vast majority of whom had never been involved with a church plant.

After speaking for about an hour on the vision of Garden City Church, I shared this top ten list. I spent ten minutes sharing and unpacking this list I'd created in order to de-romanticize church planting for all the Christians in the room. As people were growing excited about the possibility of joining our church planting team I wanted them to have a realistic picture of the difficulty of church planting, to be aware of some of the wrong reasons why people join a church plant, and to take an honest assessment of their own expectations and motives in considering joining the team.

Coming up with and sharing this list has proved very helpful for me, for the people who have decided to join me, and for the people who have decided not to join our team.

1. If you’re looking for the next cool thing in town. (We want to grow by conversion growth, not church-goer transfer growth.)

2. If you’re a Christian and you don’t like your current church. (You will find reasons to not like this church.)

3. If you have a bad track record at churches of being unteachable and causing problems. (You won’t change here, you’ll repeat the pattern.)

4. If you’re a consumer wanting to “go to church” 1x a week for a nice show. (We are not a Sunday show, we are a community of disciples on a mission)

5. If you want religion. (This church will be built on the radical gospel of grace)

6. If you have an agenda. (We have our vision, our mission, and our values—your private agenda does not supercede them)

7. If you’re a wolf. (We will sniff you out).

8. If you think this will be a nice little church that stays the same size, where everybody knows your name and you have my cell number on speed dial and we have a picnic lunch together every week. (By God’s grace, we want to grow.)

9. If you think this will be easy and smooth. (This will be hard and difficult; this will be a fight, a battle, and a challenging mission.)

10. If you want to hold onto your comfortable life. (You must lose your life.)

I also shared a quote from Sir Ernest Shackleton, from the advertisement he used when recruiting men for his expedition to Antarctica in 1914:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Quick update while I remake a template

I was preparing to send out the monthly e-newsletter, when I noticed that the template that I spent hours creating last month is nowhere to be found. I'm sure this is user error, but I can't help but be frustrated. I was looking forward to getting that accomplished on Monday.

Here's some quick updates, for those who are interested.
1. We've moved into a new townhouse.
2. Last week - we spent some time at the Exponential Conference, a great resource for church planters. It was a great week of learning and encouragement.
3. As of right now, I've been to two O's games. The goal for the season is 12.
4. Revolution now has office space. I'll post pics soon.
5. I've preached the past two weeks @ Revolution. Check out the podcast, or visit www.revolutionannapolis.com to hear the audio.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gospel before Boldness.

If you know our story, and why we moved to Maryland, you've heard us share about the need for the gospel to be proclaimed in this place; specifically, through the I-95 corridor. You'll not be surprised that I am struggling to see a of lack gospel centeredness in the lives of people. What you may find surprising is that this lack of gospel-centricity in Maryland is not just relegated to those who proclaim an open hostility to Jesus, and in turn, genuine Christianity; instead, there are plenty of "religious" people who love to live behind a rouse of their brilliance, and have no desire to place Jesus at the center of anything.

Today has been an interesting day. This morning, Westboro Baptist Church paid a visit to the county, this time to a local high school. This high school is near a military fort, and, according to WBC (who you may remember from soldier funeral protests & the godhates_____.com), purports to have a high homosexual population. Given the blend of government and "gay," WBC was out in full effect. They were there with banners, disgusting press releases, and diatribes speaking out against our "whorish nation."

On the other side of dividing line was a barrage of "supporters" for the high school. I use "supporters" loosely, because most were there not to support students, but their respective agenda. Some love the military, some love someone is in a homosexual relationship, and some just love the idea that no one should be able to ever disagree with their lifestyle (of any kind). Some got equally offensive in their slurs, some held signs proclaiming God's unconditional love, and some used it as an opportunity to draw attention to themselves.

Amongst this group were a few people I knew personally. They love Jesus and His Truth. THey wanted to give a fair picture of the church to all parties involved, and made it their endeavor to demonstrate a balance between truth and love both boldly and gently. While all other parties left vindicated in the points they made, these folks (according to some Facebook posts and some brief conversations I've had) left today feeling the weight of trying to bring Jesus to both sides of the fence.

This whole idea, of course, is nothing new to Jesus. Jesus is not used to be pigeonholed as only loving or only concerned about justness. On one hand, Jesus had Pharisees and religious leaders who would focus on keeping the letter of the law. Jesus' harshest words (in terms of reprimands) are for them., which can be found in Matthew 23. His mercy to people who had made train wrecks of their lives (see John 8) turns the idea of "do-good religion" on its hind end. At the same time, Jesus refuses to all people to make excuses for their pasts (Luke 19) , or even to live under the idea that they can do whatever they want whenever they want to, and still be okay (Matthew 19). Simply put, Jesus can't be turned into the puppet that either party desires Him to be. While He takes love quite seriously, He refuses to allow people to define "love" simply upon the picture they want to see.

One side of the fence wants to feel vindicated by the idea that they are "better than someone else." The other side feels like any authority is bad authority. Both make God their puppet. One chooses His wrath, and the other His unconditional love.

Read the gospels. If your goal is to feel vindicated by how "awesome" you are and how wrong everyone else is, Jesus will press your self-righteous buttons. If your goal is to pigeon-hole Jesus as just another hate-monger who says he's the "only" way as a means to control you, then you'll find His love and compassion, especially for those who disagree with Him, far greater than you've been taught to believe. Jesus is the ultimate balance of truth and love.

Both side of the fence try to formulate their maker. Some keep Jesus at arms length because they know it will require a moral decision - one they refuse to make. Another is obsessed with the letters of the law, obsessing over secondary religious issues. Where you find one, you often find the other. Westboro Baptist may not be from a big city, but I can name several churches who , whether intentional or not, give a similar message (we're in...you're out...it's us vs. you). I can also name a myriad of people who lack the boldness to say, "I love you too much to not tell you the truth." In Maryland, both fill church buildings every Sunday.

All truth and no love is brutality. All love and no truth is hypocrisy. Both can break the heart of God, and distract people from the gospel.

If you're a Christian, repent frequently. Pray, center your life on Jesus. Let the scriptures affect you greatly. Then, go be bold. Until you've done the former, the latter (the boldness) is likely to end up resulting in the wrong kind of extremism - one that does more harm than good. In the end, your attempt to bring out only one part of Jesus' character will have robbed you and those around him from experiencing Him through you at all.









Monday, April 4, 2011

"Waynes World 2" taught me well.

12:18 a.m. - The pending to-do list coupled with some life frustration keeps me up late. Part of me is working ahead, and part of me is brewing on the frustrations I feel at the moment.

In channel surfing. I find "Wayne's World 2." I sit mesmerized as I watch scenes that I literally had memorized as a teenager. Simply put: I love this film.

My friend Kenny is a film connoisseur. This one's not on his list of the "top 100 movies ever" . Tonight, I think it should be.

Wayne and Garth set out to put on a concert. They go to painstaking lengths, dealing with incredible disappointment in naysayers and hardship. Almost none of their plans go as written. Once they get one problem solved...two more problems appear. In their weakest moments, their insecurities are preyed upon. They struggle with the administrative details, the danger of creating something from scratch, and along the way - the drama of interpersonal relationships.

Yet, Through it all, there is a quiet voice (in this case, the voice of Jim Morrison) giving them just enough information to keep them going.

I long for Wayne & Garth's persistence. I long for their ability to laugh as they adventure; to make the best of any situation that should be thrown at them, rather than losing sleep or allowing themselves to be overly frustrated by the trials of the journey.

I just read Donald Miller's newest book. My ultimate take home: there's not a great story without risk and tension. No one cares about a story that's too easy or lacks in conflict. Wayne and Garth are so devoted to what and who they are that they are not dissuaded by the things they lack. They know that they are called to put on a concert, even if they're not the "right' ones to do the job.

I long for a deeper faith; one that embraces the challenges given and trusts that the sun rises on the other side. One that deals with temporary setbacks without allowing heavy doses of perceived inferiority cripple me from moving forward on what I know I'm called to. A faith that to the wayside, especially the fear of failure. I long for a faith bold enough to not be consumed by the approval of man.

Thank you, Wayne and Garth, for reminding me to stay focused, and to laugh along the way.














Monday, March 21, 2011

So Long, 345 Chestnut


This past Friday, the sale of our home in Danville, IN was closed. In light of that fact, here are some of my favorite "345 Chestnut" moments.



10. Getting 40 people in our home for a bunco night.
9. Not having to scrape my windshield for 8 years , courtesy of the two gar garage.
8. Sliding down our backyard on carboard boxes with the girls during snowstorms.
7. Laundry, Monday Night Football, and Madden when Scott Ensminger lived there.
6. Remodeling Emery's room for the arrival of Reese. Never before has purple flowery things, and butterfly lights seemed so manly.
5. Jumping around the living room while silently celebrating greats sports victories (Most notable: the Colts over the Pats to advance to the Super Bowl, and the US men's soccer team scoring three goals in the last 15 minutes to beat Costa Rica to advance to the World cup)
4. Surviving the Indiana Earthquake. I ran into the backyard thinking that the grill had fallen over.
3. Remembering exactly where I was sitting both times I found out we were pregnant.
2. Many, many, many nights of grilling out in the backyard with both family and friends.
1. The College ladies Bible study that was interrupted by some "passionate" neighbors.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Praying for Japan.

From Churches Helping Churches.com, here's a good article on how to be in prayer for the people of Japan during this time.

At this point, with more questions than answers, prayer is an especially good place to be. Please pray for:

  • Endangered people. Pray for those that are stranded or stuck somewhere. Pray that search and rescue teams would reach them.
  • Relief workers. Pray for more workers. Pray for skilled workers. Pray for their strength and safety. Some are working in areas where there are still aftershocks and nuclear danger. Pray for their mental and emotional health. In half of my conversations so far, people breakdown in tears because of the trauma.
  • Assessment teams to successfully gather information regarding the status of churches and communities hit on the coast. This information will be the starting point for many organizations.
  • Japanese leaders. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they coordinate the country’s efforts.
  • Resources. Pray for food, water, blankets, gasoline, and other supplies to reach those in need. In Tokyo, some grocery stores were out of bread yesterday.
  • Energy rationing: The greater Tokyo area has begun energy rationing via rolling blackouts. This may be due to the shutting down of the two Fukushima nuclear plants. This is going to bring hardship on many people and obstruct communication.
  • Wisdom and discernment. Pray for guidance for CHC as we consider how we can best serve the churches in Japan.
  • Faith. Pray that believers everywhere would trust in the Lord, especially during these times.

Monday, February 28, 2011

On Feeding 40K

A few months ago, the hotel where Revolution typically meets let us know that there would be one day where they could not allow us to have church on their property, as the space had already been rented. We talked as a staff, we made a few calls, and Josh returned with a bold vision: to use our Sunday morning time to purchase, package, and ship meals to hungry people.

What resulted was "FEED 40K;" a chance for our body to see that we not only worship Jesus with our our voices, but with our hands and our purse strings. We printed 400 waivers in anticipation, printed 400 shirts, had enough coffee donated for 300 cups (75% of which was to be consumed by me), and bought 500 wristbands, simply because we couldn't buy any less than that amount in a package.

None of it was enough, save for some coffee.

Per our calculations, 540 people participated in the feed40K event. Sports teams came together (Thank you, Messiah College), Families served with one another; friends invited friends, neighbors, and their mailmen. Emery (as seen above) participated in her first "service" event. We gave her the information she needed as far as "why" people are hungry. That night, she (unprompted) prayed for the children in Haiti who are still hungry, and will be after the food we packed runs out. Emery's heart has always been sensitive; but it was great to see it sensitive to the things that break God's heart.

My prayer for Revolution is the same, in this case, as the one that I pray for my daughters. My prayer is that they would know the Lord, and love Him with genuine affection. Then, with that foundation, that they would worship Him by caring and loving those who are overlooked, those who do not benefit capitalism or credit card rewards points. My hope is that they would be worshippers, and not philanthropists...that they would see the inextricable link between what happens on a Sunday morning and what goes on in the rest of their week....not because the preaching or song selections are "awesome," but because their God is both great and good.

Please join me in praying this prayer for Revolution in the weeks to come. Pray for me, and the rest of the ministry leaders, that we would model a service first to the Lord, and that we would then see others as the Lord sees them. Pray that our city would not just focus on transforming the world in service, but also would be transformed by the gospel out of God's service to us.

Oh, and thanks so stinking much for you partnership.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Sir Ancarrow the Black-hearted.

Valentine's Day is a fun distraction. Though I've never participated fully, and my college dating experience has forever soured a bulk of romantic comedies for me, chocolates, flowers, and teddy bears score you huge points with the daughters. I love making them feel loved. I wish I could say that's the lasting image of today.

The weekend was great celebrate of love in our family. However, on this day (Valentine's Day), I'm reminded though of how truly black my heart is. No, it's not because Justin Bieber is on Conan. Today, on the day of love, my heart was revealed as imperfect and unloving. I was reminded that my heart is "deceitful," and hard to trust when left to its own selfishness and devices. I was reminded of how, even inadvertently, this black heart and it's desires can bring hurt to others when it chooses itself.

I hate failing. I love telling you that your sin doesn't define you compared to who you are in Christ, but I hate the moments where I'm reminded through my "stupidity" how much I really Christ working in my heart. I hide behind a perfectionist's spirit, working hard to have as little to repent for as possible. Some days, I'm even ridiculous enough to believe that hype.

These final moments of my day are uncomfortable. Frankly, I've not won at anything today. I feel like a complete failure...nothing I worked to accomplish today ended up as it should.

My prayer is that in my failure, Christ would shine all the more in me.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Raining Crabcakes: Hallelujah!


The photo is from Chick and Ruth's. Yesterday I enjoyed a 1/2 pound crabcake (no sides but lettuce - don't worry) with my aunt. It felt right, knowing that there was much to be celebrated yesterday. If you watched Man Vs. Food, this is the restaurant that was featured in the Washington DC episode for the "colossal challenge."

Why Celebrate on a Monday, you ask?

1. The Steelers lost! Sorry to both the many bandwagoners and those "true fans" with Western PA ties that are 3rd and 4th generation fans alike, but I was rooting against you. Even Fergie butchering GNR & the promo spots for Glee couldn't temper my joy on Sunday night. Now that football has ended (and may not be back for a while), please join me in directing your angst at the Yankees. In fact, Cameron Diaz serving A-Rod popcorn during the game should serve as some kind of prophetic foreshadowing in where we should all direct our angst.

2. Some very good Indiana friends welcomed Baby Ella Ferguson into the world. Congrats Heather & Sean, I wish I could warp zone to Indiana for a hour to send my love in person. We're so happy for you! What's best: Baby Ella gets to share a birthday with Nathan Shaver & Charles Dickens. Great company, right?

3. I sit here, anticipating a phone call that may actually come today with an offer on our house in Indiana. This is 48 hours after a phone call I had gotten about the house saying that our gutters had frozen over, and that water had gotten in as a result. Whether it all pans out or not, I have seen God work through circumstances and through people this weekend in ways that make me realize that He's good, sovereign, and working all things together for the good. An offer or not, this has been brought to my mind today.

4. There are great shows coming to the area: in fact, too many to count. My wife and I are going to see Jimmy Eat World on Sunday, and my brother and I are seeing Underoath on the 22nd. Future shows include the GetUpKids, Emery, and Danielson.

Quick music plug: I picked up the new record from "the Civil Wars." I don't listen to alt-country every day, but this music is great stuff. If you're up for something new, give it a whirl.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking the Plunge

This weekend, I joined 15,000 other people in jumping into the icy waters of the Chesepeake Bay. The event was The Polar Bear Plunge, an annual fundraiser for the MD Special Olympics. I wasJoined by the Governor, Raven's QB Joe Flacco (he wasn't busy with super bowl preparation), and a team of brave folks from Revolution Annapolis. Since oil spills are frowned upon these days, DJ Pauly D and his hair stayed on the beach assuaged the masses with his "skillz." Seriously, why is this guy famous again? Oh, and random dad in the crowd: why did you put your daughter up on your shoulders to see him?

The water was cold, but the company was good. Really, that's the take home for me. One of the hardest parts of moving to a new place is saying goodbye to people you care about, and who care about you. While I signed up for the plunge initially just to bond with the staff, it felt good to be with a crew of people that it was fun to do something completely crazy with. While I'm guy that doesn't mind going to a concert or a movie by myself (if I really want to see something), it's hard to go through life having everyone at an arm's length, playing phone tag with friends 10 hours away. So often, it's hard to have to explain your mood, or rearrange a joke you want to tell because you're not sure the people around you will get "you" for saying it. This fact is what makes old friends so irreplaceable. However, this day was symbolic of the fact that, in addition to an old crew that I know is lifting us up, God is providing a new crew of people in this season to do life alongside. I'm praying that I will have the ears to listen and love them well.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Fell's Grind" and the "grind" of church planting.

Friday night I ate the biggest, most epic steak that I've had in some time, courtesy of friends who hooked us up with gift cards (and PNC points - quick plug), and some family members who were willing to take my two little monsters for the night. The times of refreshment with my wife, and the ability to allow her to further explore Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Fells Point, were invaluable to me. Though we've been married since 2003 (dating since 2002), I think I can count on my hand the number of times that we've been able to spend time in Baltimore. Though location would not have mattered in the end, being in a place that I've loved since childhood with a woman that I've loved throughout my adulthood had great significance to me. So, thanks Amber, and thanks Baltimore. A special plug for "Fells Grind" - we had a great cinnamon roll with some phenomenal coffee. Check it out if you're in Fells point. Also ,Thanks to those who made this possible - Mom, Dad, Uncle Matt, Aunt Belinda, and PNC. Also, thanks Mike & Jess - it was pretty cool to have an impromptu lunch when we met up in the harbor.

The need for a recharge of my spiritual battery to me was evident on Sunday morning @Revolution. Let me start by saving that we had another Great Sunday - great conversations after the service, great worship together; really, just a great morning. However, it was a challenge. It was the kind of morning that would have been great for someone who thinks church planting is cool because they read a book or went to a conference...because the morning was an uphill battle. It was freezing outside for load-in, which was shorthanded, equipment wasn't working properly, and we found ourselves late in the game doing some last-minute training when one of our morning leaders got called into work. In the end, it's a totally worthwhile endeavor, but one that comes with some fine print that often get looked-over by the young or overly ambitious. When you see your favorite church planter at the next Catalyst event, think of the people around him who loaded and unloaded trucks, stayed late so that he could have conversations with hurting people, served in children's ministry because of the vision, not just because they love kids, or were willing to step into any hole at moment's not because the planter was negligent, but because a last-minute need arose. Today, those are the people I'm praising God for...because those people were the biggest blessing to the Kingdom yesterday @Revolution.


Quick Suggestion: I spoke in the first paragraph of those who blessed us huge-"little" ways. If you have some you know who's a missionary or doing a kingdom work that is emotionally draining, and you're looking for additional ways to breathe life in them outside of the "fundraising" element, here's some suggestions. Here are some little things that have been HUGE for our family in this transition (and what I've seen by observing our staff).

1. Do not neglect praying for them. Let them know it too.
2. Look at little ways to bless them - gift cards, groceries, cheap dates night types of things
3. If #2 is more than you are able to do, consider even a cup of coffee and a conversation that doesn't begin with, "I need you too...." or "Can you..."
4. Take their kids for the afternoon, the evening, the weekend. Name your weekend - don't wait on the missionary. Make them unload.
5. Go visit their location and serve anywhere they need.

Oh, and I may be ordering a cheesehead today.




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Local Revolution Reflections, Night 1.

Grew up in Portugal, lived in Argentina...
Recently moved from South Carolina...
Grew up in a former Soviet state...
Former Annapolitan who just moved from Atlanta...
Grew up in DC, awaiting housing after brief stay at a local shelter..
Just moved from Kentucky...
Just moved from Indiana...
And a bunch more stories I didn't get the chance to hear, yet...

The phrases above describe just some of the starting points of folks whom we will try to love, encourage, and be on mission with as a local revolution (Revolution's name for small groups). Tonight, in closing our group in prayer, one of our members thanked God for His providence in bringing all of us together to this city for this season and time. After all, these are not folks who could have been assembled based on an "affinity" outside of the desire to pursue theLord; I mean, my guess is that several would hate my favorite bands, movies, and TV shows. Some would probably stink at ultimate frisbee, and I'm not sure how much we would really understand one another's professions, hobbies, or standard small talk "go-tos." What we have in common is a love for the Lord, and a desire to see His glory made known in our city.

For me, there's not better place to start. Let's go.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not trying to sound like a religious creeper, but...

I woke up this morning with the feeling like there was a cloud over me. I found it hard to describe to anyone how I felt. At first, it felt like maybe I just hadn't had my coffee soon enough - or that I was dreading listening to the Jets/Rex Ryan lovefest on Mike & Mike this morning - a normal staple (though I'll avoid it this week thank to Rex Ryan and the inevitable Steeler lovefest that will ensue this week).

You may think it was because things went horrible yesterday...they didn't.
In fact, yesterday was my favorite, and in my opinion, the best Sunday we've had at Revolution.

And I'm convinced today that the two are connected.

With great spiritual victory comes much spiritual battle. Ephesians 6 comes to mind. Also, look at Elijah in 1 Kings 18 & 19. This should not be shocking or unexpected. So, why is it always shocking and unexpected to me? I find myself today trusting in God to refresh my spirit as I spend time with Him in prayer. additionally, I'm grateful for an understanding wife, strong black coffee, and the ability to escape ESPN's love affair with all that I abhor about sports on a Monday after one of your favorite teams loses to a team in their ratings-base.

I'm grateful to be part of the fight, and am willing to die with my boots on.