Building Community in Baton Rouge Culture pt. 2

Earlier this week I wrote about some of the reasons it is so difficult to build community in Baton Rouge. In that, I wrote about four relationships that can, at times, take priority over the local church: (1) their immediate and extended family, (2) the friends they grew up with, (3) their old church friends (but not at their current local church), and (4) their kids’ school relationships.

One friend (who moved here as a young married having now grown up here) commented on the original post, saying, “People are very friendly and welcoming, but it oftentimes didn’t move past surface level.”

Is that wrong? How deep can the relationships in our churches here in Baton Rouge realistically be? Do we need to be in a constant state of gaining new relationships and sustaining them to a level of depth (which, over time, leads to dozens and dozens of friendships)? Larry Osborne (pastor in California) actually wrote about this idea in one of his books, Sticky Church. In that, he opines (yes, I said “opines”),

I think of people like Legos. We all have a limited number of connectors. Introverts have a few. Some extroverts have dozens. But either way, once they’re full, they’re full. And when that happens, we tend to be friendly but to not connect. It’s what happens when you move to a new town and are excited by everyone’s friendliness, only to be discouraged three months later that you haven’t connected with anyone. (p. 79)

Osborne uses this concept of connectedness not to chastise churches for being hard to get into but to simply explain why it is the way that it is—over time, people’s ability to keep and sustain relationships hits some type of temperament-dependent capacity. To a degree, I think this is true. At some point in time, we run out of an ability to add on new and deep relationships.

I’m not suggesting (though I have in the past with some folks and have thus learned how dumb it was) that we abolish all non-church friendships.  However, if our local church family is important, how do we give priority to our local church?

Continue reading “Building Community in Baton Rouge Culture pt. 2”

Building Community in Baton Rouge Culture pt. 1

“I just don’t feel like I know anyone here.”

The staff at the Oaks get comments like that with some regularity. It has been the most befuddling thing as a pastor to try and (1) respond to that comment appropriately while (2) ensuring that those comments happen with less frequency. Have we made progress at it? Absolutely? Have we hit our target? I don’t think so. But I am not 100% sure how.

I was more deliberate this Sunday to state some of the competing priorities that we all have to face—priorities which make that feeling of connection get diminished. I’d hope here to illustrate those (perhaps with more clarity) and then later this week offer up some solutions.  Continue reading “Building Community in Baton Rouge Culture pt. 1”

The Subtle Danger In Multi-Anything

I’ve stayed away from speaking much into the world of multisite or the macro-elements of church trends. I’m one voice amongst many, many men—and all of them have rehashed the same things. However, as I’ve watched church life over the years (at least from my limited vantage point), one area of church life can be both wonderful and dangerous: when churches expand their ministry offerings (multiple services, multiple locations, multiple ministries, etc.).

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Now, before I go any further, I pastor at a multisite church (a church with two or more campuses), with multiple services happening throughout a Sunday. The Oaks (where I pastor) has two Sunday AM services (with different children’s and youth programming), and the Campus location has three (the same two we have and a tinier service before that). We also have a college service Sunday evenings. People are scattered everywhere on a Sunday. Folks like those at 9Marks (a ministry I admire) would say, “Never do that.”

However, I was recently talking with a buddy who is about to go from one service to two. Pretty simple shift. You have one group of people meeting at one place, you outgrow it, and you go to two services of people meeting at the same place. One of the benefits of that would be that people could go to any service they wanted, whenever they wanted. Kids awake early? Go to the earlier service. A little slower on a Sunday? Go to the later service. Seems like a good solution, except that I encouraged him not to communicate it like that.

Rather, I encouraged him to take a different approach in how he communicated it and set up the move to more services . . .
Continue reading “The Subtle Danger In Multi-Anything”

The New Faith Family and the Will of God

“How do I do what this says?” lingers in every man, woman, and child who wants to honor God—every person who reads Mark 3:35 and really desires to be the person who does the will of God. Jesus, in normal fashion, is told his family is looking for him and then challenges the concept of who his true family is.

32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:32-35).

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Joseph Hellerman, pastor and professor, summarizes this passage well.

Jesus radically challenged His disciples to disavow primary loyalty to their natural families in order to join a new surrogate family of siblings He was establishing—the family of God. Relationships among God’s children were to take priority over blood family ties (Hellerman, When the Church Was a Family64).

Two questions come to me from this passage. First: What is the new relationship Jesus establishes? Second: How do we do the will of God? We’ll look at both, with specific attention to the second.

Continue reading “The New Faith Family and the Will of God”

We Need to Admit We Need Each Other

“I know it’s ironic, but I asked for prayer.”

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If you’ve been coming to the Oaks for the past few months, you’ve noticed that we make prayer available in the back for those who desire it. This was borne out of our marriage series, where we realized that married couples may be struggling with significant issues and may want others to pray with them. A friend met up with me and shared that, at least for the series, he wanted to meet with people should they desire it.

Recently, something happened during our prayer time that made me glad—and made me think. Continue reading “We Need to Admit We Need Each Other”