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I Don’t Like to Cancel Church! pt 3

When the church faces challenges or experiences difficulties, those are the times that our God shows off.

We canceled church, so we could’ve just packed it in and slept in and never even considered leaning in. (Don’t be mad, I know you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but it rhymed)

Instead, we faced the problem head on and came up with a solution. I gathered the team and we came up with a solution that looked snow storm Titan in the face and said “stick it!”

We are still moving forward. As a result, we hosted our first online church experience. Pretty cool!

It was fun and exciting to think outside the box. I have heard from many of you that were thrilled that this option was available.

I even ran into a couple at Starbucks, who don’t attend our church, but were snowed in Sunday and looking for a way to still “go to church”. They told me that they found us online and watched from the comfort of their own home. Crazy!
You may be picking up what I am throwing down at this point. If not, here it is in a nutshell: there are people in this world who may never darken the door of our physical location (currently Ronnie’s 20 Cine), but perhaps would be open to listen to the gospel because of the technological delivery system called online church.

In other words, we live in age where there are no longer borders to the delivery of the gospel to people.

We are living at a time in history that we can reach people across the street, or across the world with the click of a button. The possibilities are endless; the impact massive. I get excited just writing this down!

We must rethink church.

We must advance the kingdom of God using new and innovative ways.

We must leverage technology for kingdom impact.

God is on the move and I don’t want to miss this train. How about you?

Blessings!

Pastor Daniel

 

I Don’t Like to Cancel Church! pt 2

It’s Day Two of the reflections about God and His church that I gleaned from canceling church this past Sunday.

This is a big one: we canceled worship, not church.

In our culture, worship is a catch all for a variety of things from singing, to preaching, to announcement, to communion, etc. It really means that a group of people got together and did all of these things or some combination of these things.

It usually, means, there was a building involved (even though we know the church isn’t a building…we remember the song…), people gathered together, did some stuff, and then went home. I am sure you are getting the point.

God reminded me again, that the worship isn’t the church. We canceled the gathering of people, but not the church.

The church is greater than one gathering.

The kingdom of God is bigger than one gathering.

The church is really every believer united, wherever they are, loving God and loving people.

In other words, the church can still be the church regardless of whether or not we were able to get together.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

I Don’t Like to Cancel Church! pt 1

I really don’t like to cancel church. Period.

However, this winter we have canceled twice. Once for a blizzard and once for a super snow storm named Titan (Why do we always give storms names? Weird).

Anyway…back to my point. For me, canceling church feels like we are somehow losing the cosmic battle between good and evil. I know I’m a little weird, but that’s how I feel about it.

I was raised up under leaders, who fundamentally believed, that one should NEVER cancel church – regardless of the weather.

I tended to believe this, until I became a church planter and realized that, since our church is portable, getting our tabernacle from point A to point B is a little different than your average established church situation.

Over the next few days, I want to share a few reflections about God and His church that I have gleaned from canceling church.

First, Jesus has already won the battle.

It is easy to forget this FACT. It doesn’t always feel like this when you have to cancel church or when life punches you in the face.

Many times we allow our circumstances to get in the way of the truth. Jesus is victorious. The battle has been won. Jesus is still on the throne, even when we cancel church or someone in our family is really sick.

It is hard to remember this, or greater yet, hard to believe it when someone or something that care about is hurting or suffering.

Our circumstances, never change the character and nature of Jesus. God’s promises are always true, regardless of our pain.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

Guilt and Shame

I feel like there is much confusion over the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt is when we feel bad because of something we have done.

Shame is when we believe we are bad for something we have done. The difference is important to understand.

One can lead to our freedom and the other can lead to our destruction. Guilt is intended to bring us back into fellowship with God and others. Shame is designed to destroy you as a human being created in the image of God.

Shame only leads to condemnation. Guilt leads to life. God uses guilt to bring us back into fellowship with Him and others. Satan uses shame to separate us from God and others.

Perhaps this distinction is helpful.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

Easy Worship

There is a company that has designed and developed a presentation software for church worship experiences cleverly titled, “Easy Worship.” I never really thought anything about it, other than it being a clever name that described what they hoped would be the experience people had when trying to use it in worship. Then I read this:

“So on the advise of his counselors, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people,’ It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem…” -1 Kings 12:28 (NLT)
I am not bagging on the worship presentation software groups, who try to make our lives easier, but after reading this verse and studying the context of what was happening in Israel at the time, I was struck by the phrase, “too much trouble” for people to worship in Jerusalem because of distance.
Two things I want to point out:
1. The king is manipulating the people for his own gain. 
At this time in the history of Israel, the kingdom of David has been divided into two different kingdoms. There is the tribe of Judah in Jerusalem (which is the dynasty of David), and the everyone else called Israel. The king of Israel at the time is trying to make sure that Jerusalem doesn’t get his people’s temple offerings, so he devises a plan to make sure that doesn’t happen. Hence, the statement to his people that to worship in Jerusalem is too far and too much trouble. He is manipulating them to get what he wants. He doesn’t have their best interest in mind at all.
2. Is it ever too much trouble to worship God? 
This thought has stuck with me. We want everything to be easy. We want easy dinner. We want easy technology. We want easy relationships. We want easy worship. As a matter of fact, we even want easy faith that requires nothing from us at all. We want the benefits of the relationship without having to put anything in. We want God to meet all of our need (which he does already) without having to give anything in return. The great thing about God’s grace is that it is a gift. There is nothing we have to do to deserve it. However, the natural response from the follower of Jesus will be worship. Why? Worship is a by-product of a received grace and love. It isn’t nor should it ever be “too much trouble” to worship God, period.
Blessings,
Daniel

Who’s Going to Hell?

This past weekend I delivered a message called, “How could God send someone to Hell who has never heard about Jesus?” I love this question. It is a very honest and fair question that the Bible does address. Thank God!

I was a little rushed on Sunday and really didn’t get to deal with this question as well as I would have liked. If you missed the message you can listen or watch at www.elevationSTL.com.

I made this statement: “Nobody goes to Hell for not hearing about Jesus!” How can I say this? I can say it because of what Paul says in Romans 1. Let’s look at it:

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.* 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.   (Romans 1:18-20) NLT

Romans 1:18-20—All people everywhere know the truth about God. Through creation and their conscience. They are without excuse.

25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. (Romans 1:25) NLT In other words, they have taking the knowledge given by God and worshiped created things and not the Creator.

Paul is telling us that the guy on the island has been given sufficient knowledge to be saved. I also believe that if there is a human being on this earth that desires to know the name of the God clearly displayed in creation (Jesus), then God will provide someone or something to tell them that name. God desires for all to be saved, but Romans 1:25 tells us that not all will be saved, because they take the truth provided by God and turn it into a lie and worship it.

May we be overwhelmed by the fact that we have heard the message of the gospel and been given the opportunity to be saved. May we fall on our knees in worship because of this great privilege. May we be willing to share the good news with everyone we meet, so that the Kingdom of God will be populated to most fully.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

Love is ALMOST in the Air!

I always love February because it gives me an opportunity to very naturally talk about relationships. Did you know that God cares deeply about our relationships? He wants us to have great friendships. He wants us to have great marriages. We wants us to to have romance. He even wants us to have great sex. He simply wants to make sure that we enjoy all of these in the context of His created order and design. If we do it His way, we always win! If we don’t, the opposite is true.

Last year in February, we hosted our first Valentine’s Dinner at Andre’s in Fenton. We had over 100 people attend and almost half of those people were unchurched. It was a great time and a great outreach for our church. Our mission is to make disciples. This event allows us an opportunity to invite friends, family members, or co-workers to a non-threatening environment where they can have fun, rub shoulders with believers, and have more fun.
I would like to make this year‘s event even better than last year! On February 13, 2014, we will be hosting another Elevation Valentine’s Dinner. Can you help make it a success? I am asking THREE things:
1. Come and have a great time (buy a set of tickets and get two FREE tickets).
2. If you can, buy a whole table. This means you will buy four tickets and get four free tickets to invite people to share your table.
3. Pray that God will make a connection with people far from Him and His church, so that they may find their way home to Christ.
You can buy tickets online or in the lobby at church.
Thanks again for helping to make this outreach event a great success!
Blessings!
Pastor Daniel

Don’t Get Left Out

We started sign-ups for small groups this past weekend and had a great first week!  A goal I have as a pastor is to fill our small groups to the brim with people, so that small groups become the primary place people in our church are being discipled. This isn’t just lip service. This is something I fundamentally believe is essential for the health of our church.

You have probably heard people say, “That church is just too big!” I am not sure a church can be too big, but I do believe that if a growing church doesn’t get smaller as it gets larger, discipleship will begin to slow and potentially stop altogether. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

I have also heard people say, “I just don’t feel connected at this church.” [WARNING: Harsh, but loving statement coming] The reason you don’t feel connected it is probably two-fold:

1. You aren’t actively participating in a small group, and

2. You aren’t actively using your God – given gifts and talents to advance the church you regularly attend.

This can change. Don’t let the devil steal your opportunities to grow. Make a decision in 2014 to get involved and take responsibility for your discipleship. Join a small group, TODAY!

Simply go to www.elevationSTL.com and get signed up.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

P.S. Our new process to serving and leadership in the church called GROWTH TRACK is starting on February 2nd. If you want to get more involved I want to strongly recommend you attend the four classes being offered.

We will offer

Church 1.0 on the first Sunday of the month.

Essentials 2.0 the second Sunday of the month.

Discovery 3.0 the third Sunday of the month.

Dream Team 4.0 the fourth Sunday of the month.

These classes can be taken in whatever order you want; they are immediately after church at Ronnie’s, and lunch is provided.

To Cancel, Or Not To Cancel…That Is The Question!

Dear Friends,

As you all know by now, there is a bad storm a comin’ and most if not all the reports say that there could be up to 10 inches of snow dropped on St. Louis between midnight and 11:00am Sunday. Many of the reports have used language like “blizzard conditions” primarily because of the winds that are suppose to accompany this storm. I always hesitate to cancel church because of weather; however, being a portable church we are at the mercy of the elements more readily.

I thought that many of you would be up for a snowball fight in the parking lot after worship this Sunday but then I considered the fact that many of you may be doing the wise thing and staying home to avoid the Cold-a-Cain of 2014.

So here is the skinny: Elevation Church will not have worship this Sunday, January 5th. We will start Cow Tipping the following Sunday, so be sure and invite someone to this new message series.

Since the church is more than a building and more than a worship gathering, I have a few suggestions for Sunday:

1. Worship at home.

This is a great time to be a spiritual leader in your home. Gather the family together  (or your roommate if you are single, or perhaps the neighbor across the hall) and host little Elevation worship experiences in your home. How cool would it be to have small morning worship gatherings happening all over the city? I suggest singing a familiar worship song (or if you don’t sing at least play one on the CD player or find one on YouTube), read some Scripture, pray, and share a nice breakfast together. If this is too much for you, you could always go online to elevationSTL.com and watch a message in our media area.

2. Serve a neighbor.

The great thing about being the church is that wherever the people of God are the church is also. So let’s be the church to our neighbors tomorrow. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus and shovel some snow. I don’t know if all of you have neighbors, but I suspect many of you do. Grab a shovel and some salt and go see if you can help a neighbor clear their driveway, and make sure you bring a RAVE card, so afterwards you can invite them to Elevation if they don’t already have a church home. Here are a few tips on shoveling properly.

3. Give online.  

Over 55% of people at Elevation already give online and I want to say, “thank you!” Giving online is the easiest and best way to give consistently to Elevation, so since we aren’t having worship this Sunday, it gives all of us an opportunity to try it. Simply go to elevationSTL.com/giving and click on the button HERE to get started. Thank you again for your faithfulness giving to Christ’s church.

I look forward to seeing everyone next Sunday, January 12, 2014 as we kick off our new message series Cow Tipping with a message entitled: “My friend just got a divorce, my brother is living with his new girlfriend. Are they going to hell?” Now that is a mouth-full! Invite some friends as we tackle these questions head on!

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

Robbing God?!

So here’s an assumption about tithing (i.e., God’s historic method for getting people on the road to generosity):

We’re called to give proportionally to how God blesses us. If you don’t have anything, then you can’t give anything.

However, that isn’t the case for most of us. Our challenge is to believe that God expects us to give at least 10 percent, which is a clear concept in the scriptures. (Deuteronomy 16:10; 16-17)

Here’s the problem I see. People may agree with this premise, but they sure don’t practice it. If they did, the average giving of Americans would be much higher than the “less than 3 percent” averages we see every year.

I just read an article a few days ago that indicated the number went below 2.4 percent. This is the lowest ever in American history.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Where is he going with all this?”

Well, if God calls us to give at least 10 percent of our blessings back to Him, and less than 3 percent of people actually do, then wouldn’t this be considered robbing God?

Ooh, that stung, didn’t it?

Honestly, I don’t even like writing this down. It makes me really uncomfortable. (And, in total transparency, my family tithes. You never have to wonder if your Pastor is tithing. This is a commitment that we’ve made in order to honor God. I don’t say this to “toot my own horn,” but simply to say, I speak from a position of integrity on this matter.)

Okay, so if the previous statement stung, then take a deep breath and try to see the truth here.

My main objective is for you to experience joy and the blessings of God in greater measure–I wouldn’t be a good pastor if I didn’t tell you the truth.

Often people are looking for a way to step forward in their giving, so they start with anywhere from 3-5 percent. And that’s great if people are genuinely working towards the tithe and not just being lazy or selfish.

However, some take the step of 3 percent because they’ve over-extended themselves financially and can’t afford to go further. Debt always puts us in bondage and limits our ability to be generous.

So if you’re earnestly taking steps toward tithing, I want to celebrate that with you! Keep going!

I also want to address the person who’s taking the gradual approach because it’s easier. This approach is both greedy and lacking in faith.

Author Randy Alcorn writes about practicing the gradual approach: “Someone might say, ‘We’ll take this gradually. We’re starting with 5 percent.’ But that’s like saying, ‘I used to rob six convenience stores a year. This year, by His grace, I am only going to rob three.’”

See the point? It doesn’t matter how we spin it or justify our behavior. It’s ultimately still robbing God or what’s rightfully His. Period.

I’m sure I’ve offended some by this point, but I would rather you be offended than ignorant of the truth.

We’ll never experience the fullness of God’s blessings if we continue to rob God of His tithe.

So take a deep breath again. Say a short prayer. Ask God to reveal to you the truth.

So how can you move forward? Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you aren’t tithing and can, take that step this weekend. It’s always better to have God on your side when you face financial challenges, or any challenge for that matter.
  • If you’re in debt to the point that you can’t tithe at this point, then I do want to encourage you to do a few things: (a) repent and ask God to forgive you, (b) get someone to help you devise a plan to get freed up (email finance@elevationstl.com), (c) give what you can, but make it hurt a little.
  • If you’re already tithing, seek to increase your giving this year by 1 percent. Look for multiple opportunities to advance the Kingdom of God through your giving to: relief and restoration, digital missions, spaces and places at Elevation Church, or some other free will offering opportunity at your church if you aren’t a part of Elevation.
  • Are you signed up for online giving at elevationSTL.com/giving? It’s the best and easiest way to give at Elevation. If you haven’t considered it, please do. It’ll help you be more consistent and regular in your giving commitments. It also helps us plan more effectively.

I know this what a tough read, but thanks for sticking it out. The Bible is there to help us if we will orient ourselves to listen and act accordingly.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel
dtaylor@elevationstl.com

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