The Pomp, Pageantry, and Preparation?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

TIME Magazine Cover
 
 
 
It is that time of the year again – the weather gets warmer, the flowers start to bloom, and the winter clothes are put away. This is when you know the spring season has officially arrived in Michigan (people in Michigan have been conditioned not to think it is spring until May).

Another thing that indicates the change of the seasons is when there are a lot of weddings. As our church has been growing beyond the college ministry, we are seeing more people getting married in our church.

But this year, one wedding in particular that has captured so much international attention was the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, who are now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I was able to catch a little bit of it online and all I can say is, “WOW!” All the pageantry and pomp were pretty breathtaking to an average person watching the highlights and pictures online. Even watching all the people, who lined the streets of London to get a glimpse of the couple, was an incredible sight.

According to WePay blog it is estimated that the Royal Wedding cost around $86 million and that doesn’t even take into consideration the reception, which by the way was estimated at around $600,000. To put this in perspective, the average wedding in the United States cost around $30,000 for a small-to-medium sized wedding.

For months people were focused on the wedding details of William and Kate. Questions swirled around: Who will design the wedding dress? What type of food will be served at the reception? Who will be on the star-studded guest list?

I just found this whole wedding process so interesting.

This is not only for the recent Royal Wedding, but also for couples who spend so much time in preparation for just one day. Disclaimer: Now, I know that this is a special day for the bride; therefore I am in no way trying to be a hater. Since I have a daughter (my sweet pea), I would only want the best for her, but I am just trying to challenge some preconceived notions that many people have “just” accepted as the norm.

Now, with that said and out of the way, let me just ask, “When it comes to weddings, are we focusing on the right things?

There are many couples who spend so much of their energies, time and efforts in trying to prepare for a wedding, which last for just one day, but fail miserably to prepare for a marriage, which last for a lifetime. Also, many couples are spending close to $30,000 and more for a wedding. If there is a larger guest list, then the couple can spend up to $45,000 to $50,000. In order to put this in perspective, if a person spends $40,000 on a wedding, then they would be able to buy a nice luxurious car (or 2 decent cars) or they can put a 20% down payment on $200,000 house.

Once again, is all the investment in our time and treasures worth it for that one day, when more focus should be placed on the preparation for the lifelong marriage? Things such as, communication, conflict resolution, childhood scripts, commitment and character should all be addressed by taking the time and expending our energies to work through these things.

It is sad that in National Review Online, right after the announcement of their engagement, it reported that British bookies were taking bets to see when William and Kate will get a divorce. In our society, divorce has become so common that there are people who are betting on the demise of their marriage.

Therefore, for those of you who are getting married this summer or for those of you who want to get married in the future, remember that all the pomp and pageantry will fade away in our memories, but the person that you will have to live with after saying the vows, that will be for a lifetime.

Let’s make it “until death do us part.”
Let’s focus on the right things.
It’s God’s best for us.
It’s God’s way.
His Glory.

Leadership Lessons from a Navy SEAL

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from Courtesy Company
 
 
 
There was a point in my life where I would daydream about being part of the Navy SEALs or even part of the Delta Force. There was always something about war movies or even documentaries on war that fascinated me. I think it was the sense of mission and purpose that drew me in and captured my attention.

One of the greatest contexts to learn leadership principles and lessons is in the military. In fact, many people in leadership positions, whether it is in the government or the corporate world, had some experience in the military.

Recently, I was reading an Inc. article where a Navy SEAL and Leadership Under Fire instructor, Rob Roy gave six leadership lessons. I found it interesting that many of these lessons can be applied even to the church and LIFE Group context.

In summary, the six lessons on leadership are:

1) Comfort Zone Busters. Roy says to always make “stretch goals” because we need to learn how to push ourselves. We have to learn how to set high goals. By setting the bar high, it pushes us outside of our comfort zones.

2) Calm Under Pressure. As a leader, many decisions have to be made under pressure. People look to leaders during crisis moments, therefore leaders need to know how to command calmness in order to direct people.

3) Check the Situation. In order to make the right and best decisions, the leader must know exactly what is going on or they will be tempted to make a hasty decision. This is why temporarily stepping back from a situation is helpful to gain perspective.

4) Connect Compassionately. If the people that you are leading know that you are there for them and you are willing to support them, then they will give you their respect and be more open to follow your lead.

5) Cooperate Cohesively. When the people are unified with a strong sense of bond, they are able to work together. There is a greater motivation to accomplish the goal even though there are obstacles, if they are unified.

6) Consistent Convictions.
When people know what you stand for, they will be able to know what to expect from you. Leaders must be willing to take responsibility and lead with convictions. This helps followers to know where you will take them.

 
 
These are all biblical principles; therefore, we need to grow in these areas in order for us to be more effective in our leadership. We have to remember that some of these traits are not produced overnight. In fact, some of them are forged through trials and difficulties over a long period of time.

The encouragement for us is that God will give us the grace to grow in these traits. So next time when there are opportunities to display faith, trust, discernment, compassion, unity and conviction, remember that God is trying to grow you as a leader.

Reflections on Easter 2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo from Widescreen Wallpapers
 
 
 
Now that the craziness of this past weekend is all over, I had some time to just sit down and reflect on everything that God accomplished. First of all, my heart is filled with thankfulness. The longer I do ministry, the more I am reminded that we are just broken and empty vessels that God, in His Sovereignty desires to use.

In the past, I would think about all the ways that I could have planned more, prepared more, and prayed more, but now I am more convinced than ever that it has less to do with me and more with what God is doing and what He wants to do.

This is not only humbling, but it is definitely freeing because no matter what I do (or don’t do), I have to trust that God will always accomplish His purpose. Not only does this release me from performance anxiety, but it fuels me to do things with a pure heart. This is when ministry is fun and exciting.

After some time of reflection, I came up with five things that God reminded me of this past weekend:

1) The TRUST in God. When the Executive Team and I were in discussions about having the Easter Celebration in Mendelssohn Theatre, some people had doubts about having it in a big venue. The big factor was that this year’s Easter fell right in the middle of finals. People were saying that we will most likely have a lower attendance because a lot of the students will probably go home once they are done with finals. But for some reason, I sensed that God wanted us to have one big celebration (by gathering the whole church together) rather than having two Easter services at the Transformation Center. We stepped out in faith and all we could do was to pray and trust that God would move the hearts of our members to stick around for the Easter Celebration, as well as to invite their friends. God honored our faith and our trust in Him. I just found out that we had the highest number of newcomers for an Easter Celebration in the history of our church. As our whole church was worshiping together, all in the same place with one heart, it was a powerful moment for me. There is definitely something about trusting in Him that makes God do some incredible things. God definitely is passionate about making things about Him and His glory rather than making it about us.

2) The TRUTH of God. I ended up wrestling a lot with how I was going to frame and present the message (I preached off John 20:19-31). There were a lot of different drafts. But I finally felt convicted to share it from an angle that would minister to all the groups of people who would attend the celebration. I got this sense that God wanted to work powerfully in people’s lives; therefore I had to preach the hard truth. This meant that I could not “candy coat” the Gospel. There are a lot of hard truths in the Bible. It is not easy sharing those things in a pluralistic and self-centered generation without offending someone. But I keep on mentioning to our church members, “If I do not offend you at least once in my sermon, then I have not preached the Gospel.” There were several moments during my sermon where I felt a hush (a sense of awe in the Presence of God) come over the theater. It was in the key moments where I talked about how our sins have put us in the situations that we are in right now, whether through disobedience, bad choices or our rebellion. But the story does not end there. Thankfully, God’s Presence is evident through His people, His peace and His power. His Presence is something that God offers through Jesus Christ, if we would only humble ourselves and receive it by faith.

3) The TOUCH of God. After giving a full explanation of what was going to happen during the closing praise time, I got this feeling that no matter how awkward it might feel for some people, God, through worship was going to overpower them with His love and mercy. I always have the privilege of looking out to the congregation and seeing people’s faces as they worship and experience God in a powerful way. Similar to other times, as I was looking out this past Sunday, I saw many people getting ministered unto through the worship time. As people were lifting up their hands and singing passionately the words of the songs, God was moving in the theater. It was as if God was reaching down to us and touching us with His power and His Presence. God truly inhabits (is enthroned in) the praise of His people (Ps 22:3).

4) The TEAMWORK of God’s people. When everyone in the Body of Christ is “functioning” and doing what we are called to do, then it is a beautiful sight. I was so encouraged by all the people who were serving on Easter. Some people had to get up early in the morning to help set things up. Other people were reaching out and showing God’s love to the newcomers. Still, other people were praying and preparing for the Easter Celebration. It is hard to describe in words all the stuff that went on before, during, and after the celebration. We have some of the most amazing servants of Christ in HMCC. Not only do they go above and beyond what is expected of them, but they are constantly reaching a new level of sacrifice and surrender as they serve the Living God. Everything just came together throughout the whole morning. I just love the partnership in the Gospel. Already I have been hearing some great testimonies of people who were praying for me, the service and their friends that came out. I heard about LIFE Groups partnering up together to have lunch afterwards to further the outreach. It is just awesome to see everyone doing their part.

5) The TRIUMPH of God’s purpose. It has been awe-inspiring to hear how God was orchestrating different relationships with people’s classmates, roommates, co-workers, friends, and family members to share Christ’s love. After giving the Gospel presentation, we gave everyone in the theater an opportunity to respond to God through a card that we passed out. People we encouraged to check off a box that best described the decision that they were making that day. Throughout Monday, I received e-mail messages from our church members who indicted that their friends received Christ for the first time, while others shared about how their friends recommitted their lives to Christ. These are the times when I just stand amazed at the work of God. No matter what Satan tries to do and no matter what mistakes get in the way of us turning to Christ, God’s purposes will always triumph and prevail. This is why after the Easter Celebration so many people had joy in their hearts. In fact, this is the message of Easter – it is the message of Jesus being triumphant over death and the grave; and since we are His children, we share in this triumph.
 
 
To God be all the glory (Sola Dei Gloria)!

Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers (Pt 2)

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 
I have been greatly encouraged to see God placing many future innovators and influencers in our church. As soon as I posted my entry on “Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers” (I3) yesterday, I received an e-mail with a video link.

As I was watching it, I was reminded of several more things:

1) I3’s are Early-Adopters. They are usually the first ones to adopt an idea or product. They are not afraid of taking risks. Once they believe in something, they are able to spread it to others.

2) I3’s are Evangelists. Since they are out to influence people, they share what they believe in with passion. They want to change the way we think and the way we respond to things. In essence, they want to “convert” people.

3) I3’s are Eccentric. Unconventional. Different. Unusual. Avant-garde. All these words describe them. They love going against the flow; and in many ways they do not care about what other people might say about them. In fact, according to I3’s, being different is good.

4) I3’s are Empowering. Since they are forward thinkers, they think generationally. As they reach a certain level of influence, I3’s try to empower and equip the next generation. They use their wisdom and influence to inspire the next generation of I3’s.

 
 
Here is a very good video produced by R+I Creative. They are a marketing and advertising company who helps “brands and artists reveal their values and tell their stories through innovative productions.” Thanks to @ericcyee who forwarded this video to me.

R+I Creative did a great job of explaining the “who, what, and how” of an influencers. I liked the fact that they focused on New York City because this city is really one of the hubs for finding innovators, idealists, and influencers. This is one of the reasons why we are praying about this great city.

Here is a brief trailer:
 

 
 
 
 
If you have time, here is the longer version. It is well worth the 14 minute investment.
 

Innovators, Idealists, and Influencers

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo from www.smithsonianmag.com
 
 
 
I have an insatiable appetite for information. Couple that with a hunger and fascination with history and you get a person who is constantly reading, discovering, and asking questions. Sometimes my curiosity frustrates people (sorry); and it is often times misunderstood for my knack of “cornering people” to get to the bottom of things. But to my plea of innocence, it is simply my desire “to know” things.

Whether it is a weakness or strength, I am realizing that curiosity often fuels new discoveries and it even helps people to dream and envision things of the future. One of the things that inspire me is when I read about what people in the past have said to visionaries and innovators to some of their ideas.

Here are some of them:

1) “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” [Western Union internal memo, 1876]

2) “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” [David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s]

3) “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” [Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962]

4) “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come and work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’” [Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer]

5) “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” [Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859]

6) “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” [Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943]

7) “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” [Lee DeForest, inventor]

8) “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” [A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.]

9) “But what is it good for?” [Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip]

10) “With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.” [Business Week, August 2, 1968]

 
 
When we think about our lives without some of the things that we have now, we are thankful that that they were wrong. Can you imagine all the lost opportunities?

The challenge for us today is to look ahead and to make decisions today that will affect our future destiny. This is not an easy process because there are so many factors that hinder people from moving forward. For some people it is the fear of failure. For others, it is a self-imposed skepticism which limits us. For others, it might be their lack of faith. For some, it might be their desire for comfort, security and safety. But whatever the reason, we have to see things through the eyes of Christ.

He believed that through a rag-tag team of disciples that the world will be transformed. Who would have ever thought or imagined?

But as we look into the future and see what God has in store for us, let’s stay ahead of the curve. The possibilities are endless because we have a God, who is the God of the possibilities (Mt 17:20; 19:26). May we stay close to Jesus, as we navigate towards the 2020 Vision.

Strategy for Planting Churches

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Created by Paul Bulter, an intern at Facebook
 
 
 
Recently, there have been an increasing number of people asking me, “How do we, as a church, decide which city or campus to plant a church in?”

I think in light of our 2020 Vision, we are trying to come up with some systematic way of implementing our desire to plant churches around the world. But one thing I have learned over the years is that strategies and a well devised “plan” can only go so far. Ultimately, as I look back into the church plants that we have participated in, there is simply no “one way” to do it. A good STRATEGY without God’s SPIRIT will always end up in SHAMBLES. But without any PREPARATION, things can easily be done without a clear PURPOSE.

This is why we are trying to find a good balance between allowing God’s Spirit to lead us, while at the same time doing our part in getting ready for the next step.

When it comes to allowing God’s Spirit to lead us, it is important that we are praying and listening to the Holy Spirit. There is definitely a spiritual element of discerning what God is doing around the world when it comes to church planting. Then, there is also a practical element of coming up with the possibilities of starting up a church in a particular area.

I have been trying to teach people in our church to take it from two different levels – one is from the individual level, and the other from the corporate level. Please keep in mind that this is all contextualized in the HMCC context.

On the individual level, I have communicated to people to remember the PLANT acronym:

1) P – Pray. God often times uses prayer as an avenue to strengthen a conviction or lead us in a different direction. Therefore, before we either rule out the possibility of being part of a church plant or believe that God is calling us to do it, we need to pray. As we pray, God will give us His burden and will speak to us.

2) L – Learn. I have told people to learn as much as you can about the campus, city or country that God is placing in your heart. Without a proper knowledge of the city, we will never be able to make an accurate assessment of the feasibility of planting a church. Also, when we learn as much as we can about a particular place, it will just solidify more of our convictions.

3) A – Assess and Affirm. We have to keep in mind that having a community of believers who know us well and who can speak into our lives is a vital part of discovering God’s will for your life. You need to include your pastor or your leader in this process as well. Even though you might have a desire to participate in a church plant, if people who know you well are having a hard time affirming you, then it might be better to go back to the drawing board and continue to pray. When we have an honest assessment of ourselves, then we will fair so much better in the long run. It is usually better to find out areas of your life where you need to grow in and commit to in developing your character.

4) N – Network. As you pray and learn as much as you can about a particular city, and as people are able to assess and affirm your calling, then the next step is to network with other people – both, in your HMCC church as well as other HMCC sites. You will be amazed once you connect with other people who have the same burden or who want to go to the same city. We have to remember that we cannot do things alone. We need to find other people who are praying about the same particular city. It might be good to even meet up with them and start praying together. By networking, we are creating bonds of relationships that will allow us to partner together for Kingdom work.

5) T – Training. Once, many of these factors are considered, then we can start going through specific training in order to send you out. One of the best training grounds is the small group context. Our LIFE Group ministry is really like a mini-church plant. A lot of the things that are required in planting a church, you can experience in the process of doing community with others. Remember that the better trained you are, the more likelihood you will be ready to face some of the difficulties of church planting.

 
 
The PLANT principles are more on an individual basis when it comes to determining whether planting churches is something that God is calling you to do. But we also need to look at church planting from a corporate level, which entails not only your particular church site, but also all the HMCC churches.

In order to achieve our 2020 Vision, we have to see how all the pieces are coming together. Simply, we need to “connect the dots” so that everything that we do is tied in with our overall vision of transforming lives and transforming the world.

I will explain the corporate level of planting churches with the acronym SEEDS. It is important that rather than looking at SEEDS as a strategic model or program, we look at it as a process. This means that we have to be flexible, but yet focused.

Here are the five principles of the process:

1) S – See God’s Sovereignty. It is imperative that we learn to see what God is doing in a particular location. Often, we try so hard to “force” things to happen. When we trust in our human wisdom, it always leads to manipulation and frustration. Rather than trying to make things happen, it is better to see how God is sovereignly bringing things together. In the past, God clearly opened up specific doors for us as a church by bringing people together without any direction or “help” from us. God has also brought sovereign circumstances together without our knowledge or our assistance, which opened up opportunities for us. When we know that it is something that God is doing, there is great confidence that He will carry us through.

2) E – Explore the possibility. As God is sovereignly bringing the pieces together, we must then take the responsibility to explore what the possibilities are for starting a church in that particular location. This is when some initial contact must be made in order to explore the various things that God is doing in that campus or city. A vision trip is helpful in order to assess and pray more specifically for God’s will to be revealed. As God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility come together, we will be able to see more clearly the direction God wants us to move towards as a church.

3) E – Establish the community. One crucial piece of the whole exploration process is to start establishing a community of people, who are willing to commit to the vision of starting a church. It is critical that we have some people in that city, as well as people from other HMCC churches, who are willing to sacrifice for the reality of the church plant. We have to remember that not all our church plants will start off right away as a “typical” church. We are open to initially starting a LIFE Group or even starting a house church with the established community. As the community is established, we will be able to make a better, informed decision on the possibility of planting the church.

4) D – Discern the sustainability. With the formation of the community of faith, we need to prayerfully discern if they are able to continue to live out the principles of Acts 2:42-47 in a sustainable way. There are four specific areas that will give a good indication of the sustainability of the community: maturity, ministry, multiplication, and missions. When a community of faith is growing in their relationship with Christ and their love for one another, then the community can be sustained. As the community is growing in maturity, it will naturally overflow to people doing ministry by serving one another and to the surrounding area. One factor that we want to carefully observe is the multiplication of disciples. If people are not reproducing themselves by evangelism and discipleship, then the community will be weakened and implode due to their self-centeredness. This is why the group’s heart for God’s mission has to be monitored. These markers will help gauge the realistic sustainability of the future church plant.

5) S – Start with quality. Too often, church plants are concerned with growth in the quantity of people that it is easy to compromise on the quality. We have to remember that Jesus never sought after the crowd but rather He focused on a few. It was through this intentional, focused investment that the Church was established after His death. When we start the church with a focus on quality, we will be able to build up a strong church. The quality has to permeate in our disciple-making, our witness, our LIFE Group community, our love for God and love for people. If we are faithful in developing quality Christ-followers, then the numbers will take care of itself.

 
 
Therefore, if we remember the acronym PLANT SEEDS, then we will have a pretty good idea of how to move forward in HMCC’s vision to plant churches in various campuses, cities, countries, and continents.

The most recent example of these principles being lived out is in Singapore. As the church was started in an unconventional way, we are seeing God do some extraordinary things in the lives of the people at HMCC of Singapore.

As we look forward into the future, we are seeing God sovereignly bring people together in different cities in the States, as well as in international cities around the world. With prayer and God’s grace over our lives, I am confident that we will be able to witness more churches being planted by the year 2020.
 
 

“’Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’” (Lk 19:17)

Another Run for the Bulls

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

 
In the 1980’s, I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls. After being drafted third overall by the Bulls in 1984, Michael Jordan stormed the NBA. The 1990’s was a special era for the Bulls. Not only did they achieve the best single season record in the NBA (72 wins), but they had two 3-peats (6 championships). They were truly a dynasty in the 1990’s.

One of the best gifts Christina gave me, as we were courting was tickets to watch the Bulls play at the United Center. Also, I still remember the Bulls playoff run in 1991 (which was the start of the first 3-peat) where I was traveling with a worship band leading retreats throughout the summer and trying to catch the championship game against the Lakers.

Those were some crazy years.

Now, with the Bulls locking in the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the hype and the excitement is starting all over again. I am hoping my boys will be able to see a start of another dynasty with Derrick Rose.

People are slowly rallying to this Bulls anthem. I think it is going to stick. I am hoping this song will continue to play throughout the United Center.
 
 

Review of “Transforming Discipleship”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Visuals

 

 
 
 
I just recently finished reading Greg Ogden’s book, Transforming Discipleship. I was given this book for free to provide a review; therefore, since I enjoy reading and the topic is something that I am passionate about (anything with the word “transform” has my attention [smile]), I decided to write some things about it on my blog.

Even though this book was published in 2003, there were still a lot of relevant points to consider for our generation and beyond. I appreciated Ogden first starting off the book by giving the current situation with the Church and discipleship. He used the word “superficial” to summarize the state of discipleship that we see today. Although, Ogden was describing the Church at the turn of the 21 century, fast forward eight years and this is still the situation today in the Church. There have been some definite improvements, as more pastors and leaders are seeing the current crisis of “superficial” discipleship in the Church. But overall, it has been a slow process. Change always takes time.

It was helpful that Ogden laid out his expectations and ideas of what the biblical standard of discipleship should be in the Church. In fact, he gave seven specific traits of a biblical standard: proactive ministers, a disciplined way of life, discipleship affecting all of life, a countercultural force, an essential organism, biblically informed people, and people who share their faith.

If you look at these traits, it is clear that it describes a follower of Christ who is not passive and someone who is willing to invest in building the Kingdom of God. In essence, true biblical discipleship requires people to go against the flow and choosing to be uncomfortable in their journey with Christ.

As Ogden lays out the expectations of a Christ-follower who is committed to discipleship, he gives us various reasons why there is a discipleship malaise. One big factor that stuck out for me was the issue of discipling through programs. We see this all the time in churches. Pastors and leaders have tried to make disciples through programs; and the track-record tells us that it is not very effective.

Program oriented discipleship is usually focused on head knowledge; but head knowledge alone will not transform people. The sad part is that it usually produces proud and arrogant people who develop a big head, but fail in growing their heart and character. Programs are easy for leaders because it does not require a lot of relational investment. All that the leader has to do is to just “run” the class and make sure that the information is being transferred to the people. But if you look at the life of Jesus with his disciples, it was always based on a relationship. It is only when our lives are intertwined with people that we will be able to make a difference and see disciples being made.

But the biggest failure comes from the top. Pastors and leaders have failed to challenge people into a life of radical discipleship. Whether it is our fear of raising the standard or our lack of knowing a clear pathway to maturity, the leadership of the Church has failed in following Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

One thing I really appreciated Ogden mentioning was the fact that due to people’s “inadequate view of the church as a discipleship community” it has caused an enormous gap in producing quality disciples. What better place than to get discipled through the local church? This is where you can grow in your commitment, accountability, serving, sacrifice, and spiritual depth. Maybe a stronger view of ecclesiology will help people to see discipleship in a whole new way?

Over three chapters, Ogden mentions some key points of how Jesus modeled discipleship and how the Apostle Paul carried out discipleship in his ministry. In essence, everything came down to the relationship between the disciple and the disciplee. As Jesus spent time with the disciples, He was able to influence and impact His disciples. As Jesus spent time with the disciples almost every day over a three and half year period, it had a profound effect on them. In the same way, Paul was focused on the relationship as well, but it was more from a spiritual parenting or spiritual fathering angle. With the idea of spiritual parenting, it helped to see that it is really about assisting people go through different spiritual lifestages such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

It was good to see Ogden draw a lot of reference from Dr. Robert E. Coleman’s books, The Master Plan of Evangelism and The Master Plan of Discipleship. Both these books had a significant impact on me during my seminary years. Also, I had the privilege of getting discipled by Dr. Coleman; therefore I was able to catch the heart behind a lot of the principles that were shared in his books.

Towards the end of the book, Ogden gave a vision (or a picture) of what it would be like if we took seriously the call to discipleship and then started to multiply. It would be a definite shift from “adding” disciples to “multiplying” disciples. The thought of increasing the effectiveness in reach people with the Gospel through multiplication is another powerful reminder that the Church cannot just coast by with superficial discipleship. We need radical people, who are willing to radically disciple people, so that we can radically transform the world.

In order to see genuine transformation, Ogden gives three specific and necessary ingredients: transparent trust, the truth of God’s Word, and mutual accountability. All these things help catalyze a thriving and growing discipleship relationship.

If we can see more churches take on the call to radical discipleship, we will see a revolution on the horizon. Without it, the Church will be filled with people who are just going through the motions of Christianity and not being faithful to the call that Jesus gave to people who would follow Him.

May we remember the word of Jesus, when He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Lk 14:26-27; 33; Mk 8:34-35).

Same Song but a Different Time

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
One of our church members forwarded me a music video of the 25th Anniversary of the song, “We are the World.” The original song was released on March 1985 which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie; and it was produced by the legendary Quincy Jones. In hopes of bringing awareness and also raising funds for the famine in Ethiopia, the song sold over 20 million copies (which was a lot back in 1985). The song ended up winning 3 Grammy Awards, a American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award – it was hit.

In light of the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12th 2010, an incredible collection of artists were gathered together to remake the “We are the World” song on February 1st, 2010. They called the song, “We are the World 25 for Haiti.”

As I watched it on YouTube, it brought back a lot of memories because I grew up with the original song in my teenage years. Then I started thinking about some parallel principles in regards to the remake of this popular song.

There are 3 lessons that I was reminded about as I watched this video:

1) RELEVANCE. The beauty of this song is that the message is the same but the packaging of it is different. If you hear the 1985 version of it and the 2010 version, there is definitely a lot more of the current hip-hop flavor. This reminded me that we always have to be culturally relevant without losing the message. If the Church fails to bring the Gospel message in a culturally relevant way, then it will fall on deaf ears. But if we are able to present the timeless truths of the Gospel in a context where people can understand their need for a Savior, then life transformation can happen.

2) RALLY. It was inspiring to see the assembly of singers in the 2010 version. I felt the same way back in 1985 when all the top artist of that time came together to rally for the needs of Ethiopia. I was just thinking how a cause or a clear purpose is able to bring various people together. If you look at the list of singers, it is a pretty good array of styles and personalities. As the church, we are one Body but there are many parts. There is something very powerful when the Body of Christ is able to come together with all its different parts to do something great for the Kingdom of God. Sometimes all we need is a rally cry. May the eternity of lost people drive us to come together as a church to reach the nations.

3) RESPONSE. Many times when we think about superstars or famous people, we get enamored by their lifestyle. But one thing we forget is that outside of their posh lifestyle and all their fame and money, they are people, who are made in the image of God. Even though we might not know their motives fully, it is good to see many of these artists giving up their time and energy to produce this song. I think about how many Christ-followers are constantly on the sidelines just watching rather than getting in the action. We use excuses of being too busy or not having enough resources to do anything about a situation. But we are called to be the salt and light of the world. This requires an active response from people who have experience the mercy and grace of God. This is why the Apostle Paul said, “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Ro 12:1). May we always be enamored by God’s grace, which in turn will cause us to give generously (our time, treasure and talents) to His cause, for His glory.

 
 
Check out the 2010 version of “We are the World.” You can check out the list of singers in this song here on this page.
 
 

Jesus Is…

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

 

Designed by HMCC Publications
 
 
 
All the HMCC churches try to do at least two sermon series together within a year in order to have unity across all the different sites. Several months ago, the global pastors and I spent some time trying to decide on our Easter sermon series. The more we talked, the more we wanted to keep things simple and point everything back to Christ. Therefore, we decided on a series called, “Jesus Is.” We will look at various traits of Christ, as He is portrayed in the Gospels. We will study how Jesus is powerful, compassionate, and forgiving. Then we will close out the series on Easter with “Jesus is here.”

It is fascinating how there are trained people to detect counterfeit currency. They train through countless number of hours to touch and be familiarized with real currency. In this way, they can detect a counterfeit instantly. So often, Christ-followers are swayed by counterfeit things of this world. The only way we are going to know the difference between the real thing and the fake is to encounter Christ in a personal and powerful way. As we discover more of who Jesus is, we will be able to know if something is a counterfeit to what Christ offers to us.

It is my hope and prayer that through this series, our church will be able to fall in love with Christ in a fresh and deeper way. As we experience more of Jesus’ power, compassionate, forgiveness and presence, our desire to live out His purposes will increase. I can’t wait for the life transformation that will happen throughout this series.

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