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Thursday, December 18, 2014

So What Is Grace Crossing All About?

I am often asked by people what Grace Crossing is "really" all about. Like there is something we are hiding in the closet until people show up...& then we reveal it.  It's really not that way, I promise.  There is a reason we are growing, it's not by accident.  It's not because we put in addictive additives in the air fresheners.  We believe that healthy organizations, including churches, are built on 2 foundational elements.  For us, these two elements are birthed from and also lead people back to Him.  These elements are simple: Mission & Values.

Mission & Values shape everything that we are built upon.  This drives the culture we create, the target demographic we reach, the way we talk, the relationships we engage in, the teaching style..even the way we engage your kids.  It's all driven by mission & values.  So what are they?  Glad you asked...

"To reach disconnected people & equip them to fully engage with Jesus." Sounds exciting right? But what the heck does that even mean? Simply put, our win is to reach disconnected people.  If people are connected & engaged in a local church, they are NOT our target. Don't be fooled. That's simply not who we are focused on. We define the disconnected in three ways: unCHURCHED (relationship w/ God, but not a church), unSAVED (no relationship at all), and unUSED (in church, but stagnant).  This is our target. We don't hide it & we aren't ashamed of it.  Once we have reached these disconnected people our goal is to connect them.  We connect them to Christ, the Church, and the Community. This is a healthy strategy that builds a well-rounded follower of Christ.  We equip people to fully engage through our discipleship or growth track that is built on both groups and classes.  Groups tend to be more relational and focused on doing life together, while the classes are more topic-driven and focused on the application of knowledge.  But this equipping means nothing if we are not encouraging our people to USE what they are learning in their life. For some this means simply leading their families, for others it means they begin serving or giving.  While for some, it means leaving Grace and starting ministry. We currently have influenced planters in Park City (KS), Deshler (OH), Pittsburgh (PA) and Denver (CO) through our network.  This is our mission.

We have 5 driving values to our church. Every decision is driven by these values. These values are the catalyst for Grace Crossing and her people.

1. We believe Jesus is a pretty big deal.
Jesus is the goal. He is the focus. Everything comes in response to His work in our lives, and everything leads to introducing and deepening relationships with Him.  He will always be the rockstar of Grace Crossing. Sure, there are doctrinal debates that we can have all day long, at the end of the day we want you to know that we are about Jesus, and making Him famous.

2. We believe that ALL people matter to God, so they matter to us.
This is a simple statement, that you'd think would be a default for churches, but it isn't. That's just the reality. If you've ever walked into a church where you felt like an outcast or as if you weren't supposed to be know exactly what I'm talking about. We believe that God's loves people, so we do to. It HONESTLY does not matter to us what baggage you're carrying around, you are welcome. It doesn't matter what you're wearing (as long as you're wearing something), you are welcome. It doesn't matter if you have it all figured out or if you're just beginning the search, you are welcome. God loves you. We do to.

3. We believe that God has given the local church a mission to impact & influence the world.
We are intentional about networking and having a voice in our community. We want to be seen as catalyst for change. We want to set the bar and establish the influence that things revolve around. Not because we want to be in the center of attention, but rather because we want to make sure the church is influenced by the world, but rather that we are fulfilling our Biblical mandate to be be light...and to be dot-connectors.

4. We believe the Church should be a catalyst for hope.
Simply put, the world judges you enough, don't they? The world tells you to straighten up. That you're not good enough. That you're too far gone. That hope is far out of reach. We don't believe that...if that's the world's role, our role is to give you hope. To reveal that God is ALWAYS bigger. We've seen miracles happen at this church from marriages restored to addicts walking away from chains that have held them down for years. The stories are amazing, and are all driven by the hope we try to offer.

5. We believe in advancing the Kingdom of God through church multiplication.
I get it, not everyone likes change. Not everyone likes new things. There is a misguided perception that when church plants come to a new town that they are out to 'steal' people from other churches.  For us, that simply isn't the case. We go into communities that have a high un-churched rate (meaning that most of their churches are in decline or empty) and try to discern if God is at work laying a foundation for a Gospel-Driven church. We go to great lengths to find the right kind of model, the right planters, the right leadership, even the right location within a community before we plant. We love to partner with surrounding churches. We aren't competing for their people, we are after people in the community that aren't going to church at all...remember our disconnected definition? Make no mistake, we will plant more churches. Some will be independent plants that make their own impact, while others will be campuses of Grace Crossing in other communities. But we will advance the Kingdom and continue bringing more disconnected people in other communities to a life-giving church.

Hopefully, this helps spell out what we are about for you. Just this week I have met with an addict, a divorced couple, and a man who has lost everything...they ALL have one thing in common...a need for hope. We want to be the church that brings it to them.  Keep reaching out to people. They are broken, hurting & searching. We have what they need. Hope rooted firmly in Jesus.

Always Believe,

Pastor Jason

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Love My Church

This past two weeks has been a challenging one for me personally. I flew home from a wedding in Indiana so I could continue work at Grace Crossing while my family stayed back and spent time visiting family in Indiana & Illinois. 

As much of an introvert as I am I found myself going nuts alone! I missed hearing my kids screaming "hello daddy" when I walked in the door from the office. I missed my wife just asking how my day was. FaceTime is great, but not the same. 

I eventually needed to initiate some opportunities & respond to some invites to spend time with people in our Grace family. I have been so grateful to those that have welcomed me into their homes for dinner, gone on sonic runs just to get out & even those who went on walks or talked on the phone with me this past couple weeks. 

It was a great reminder for me that even those of us who don't mind being alone, were simply not designed to live an isolated life apart from people. We are created to live life together. That's why relationships are so vital to the health of a church & also to the health of its leaders. I'm a firm believer that a leader has no chance of leading effectively in a way that is sustainable without healthy & balanced relationships. I have not always achieved success in this area of my leadership...but I am grateful to have the relationships that I do here in Kansas. 

Let's all focus on advancing our relationships with one another. We've got some pretty stellar people at Grace with some amazing lives just waiting to be shared. Thanks again for letting my family be a part of your stories. 

Always Believe. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My view from 10,000 feet

As I'm sitting here in my plane flying back to Kansas from Indiana I have some thoughts going through my head. As I look out the window I can see a wide scope of the area. I can see things from up here that those on the ground have no idea are coming. It got me thinking about this past week, and some things in currently dealing with in ministry life. 

I had the opportunity to officiate the wedding of a very good friend yesterday. In my message to them I encouraged them to continue doing the things that led them to their wedding day. I challenged them to pursue God first. Pursue growing themselves & each other into the people God has called them to be. And I challenged them to pursue keeping the promises they made on their wedding day. 

Why is it that when we look at marriage from a 10,000 foot view it seems simple? We can take a Good guess at what's coming, how we should deal with them, how we should contain our anger & jealous & discontentment. We know what we should do when we look at marriage from this elevated perspective. But when you're on the ground level, caught up in the daily chaos that is marriage...we can get caught off guard. When have have stopped intentionally pursuing God, pursuing growth, & pursuing the promises...the unthinkable can happen. And it will, unless we constantly remind ourselves that there is a different perspective, one that sees the whole landscape. One that is from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves & wants us to succeed more than we could dream of. Why don't we trust that perspective more?

To my newly wedded friends, don't drift. Be intentional. Always remember there is another perspective, another way to look & approach things. 

To my friends struggling in marriage. Believe that God knows it. God sees it. God feels it. God sees the broader landscape. God wants to restore, but it requires you to place yourself under His desires for you & your relationship, not doing your own thing anymore, but rather His thing. You can't do it on your own, You CAN do it with God & some life changes. Believe that. 

Always Believe,