Seriously, you’ve never been on the tour??

As I mentioned earlier, we went to the Welcome and Information Center for Panama City Beach this morning to get. . . um, information . . . about what there is to do here in Panama City Beach. Of course there are those little brochure kiosks everywhere to try to get you into their place of business. But we wanted to hear an “insider’s view” of the attractions. Someone who has a “been there, done that, DIDN’T buy the T-shirt” (or vice versa) kind of informational experience. But it simply isn’t going to happen! Not today anyway!

Here’s a little tip for the city of Panama City Beach. See if you can’t spring for a couple of bucks to send the help to some of the excursions–ANY of the excursions. Basically, the lady(ies) who helped us had not been to ANY of the tours or whatnot in the town. “They were too busy working to have time to go on those things.” What!?! Isn’t that your job to know what tours are good and what tours stink?? Shouldn’t you be able to steer people clear of spare tours and tourist traps?? Seriously, you can be more help than “I think there are some brochures over there on that kind of stuff!”

For what it’s worth, I think that we in the church are a lot like that aren’t we? We are representing something that many of us aren’t really that enthused about, let alone even experienced!! To put it the way Rob Bell puts it, “we aren’t ‘smokin’ what we’re sellin’.” You can’t talk about an experience with Jesus until you have come face to face with Him and He comes in and changes your life. This isn’t simply something that you “do” . . . this Christianity thing! It is your “LIFE!” Every time someone comes into one of our environments (churches), people ought to get an “insider’s” view of the Gospel–EVERY TIME! They shouldn’t just hope they “get the good one [volunteer]” or not get the “guy having a bad day, ur, life.” Think about the consequences of not having an insider’s view of the Gospel at your church. Who is there because they had an insider’s, “I once was blind, but not I see” kind of person helping them to understand this crazy thing called the Gospel and the Church? Is someone there because you are “smokin’ what you’re sellin’?” Or are they turned away unsatisfied because you are no better than a bunch of brochures sitting all neatly in a row–lot’s of information, but no passion of an insider’s perspective.

Happy 155th Birthday!!

First Baptist Church, Springfield, MO had their 155th year anniversary this past Sunday. We went downtown to church in the morning and then to River Bluff Fellowship’s new building dedication in the evening. I love singing those old hymns with the organ cranked. It brings back a lot of memories of my childhood into my college years. My pastor during college, Lynn Worthen preaching in the morning service. He did an awesome job talking about CHANGE. If there is anything that any church (traditional or non-traditional, new or old) doesn’t want to do is change. I’m not really sure how well the message was received, but I hope it was received and the church will flourish.

Something really funny was said by the pastor. Russell and Carolyn Newport were given a really nice appreciation during the service. The pastor said that Russell was the interim music pastor for 14 years!! Pastor turned to Lynn Worthen and said, “Pastor, I’ve learned that you can stay for as long as you want here at First Baptist . . . if you are an interim.” Classic line!

I also noticed something that is very unsettling to me. They had the names of all of the church plants that they had sponsored/been a part of over the years. There are a TON of churches around here because of First Baptist’s planting heart . . . until the mid 90s. Something happened after they planted Ridgecrest. (I can still remember the excitement and weekly reports of Ridgecrest and of how it was going “in the white house off of Republic Road”. Maybe that was the first glimpse for me into church planting as a junior high student!) Something happened in the mid 90s . . . but no one could put a finger on it then. In the mid 90s, there was a big fight over “important” things like what kind of music we are going to sing, who’s liberal and conservative and who’s not. It was a very similar fight that many have been apart of all over this country in SBC life. It turned toward staff and pastors. It was quite sad. During that time, the church turned inward, stopped planting churches and decline began to happen. Obviously I am a church planter, so what I am about to say is pretty biased. But when a church stops looking to expand the Kingdom of God and looks to guard their own little kingdom, God removes His hand from that place. Have people been saved in that place since the mid 90s? Absolutely. Were they a part of works after 1985? Absolutely. But I wonder what “could have been” if “we” hadn’t lost our focus on the real goal–reaching unchurched people for Christ. I say “we” because I am a part of that place. I always will. Jenny and I were married there in that sanctuary in 1995. I was a part of the youth ministry there. Jenny and I were baptized there. I surrendered to full time Christian service there. I began my ministry career there teaching Sunday School. I helped with Summer Celebration during two summers. I love that place! I love the people!

I say this because I love that place . . . there could be so much more (future tense). What an exciting place downtown Springfield has become! I sure hope and pray that we truly can change for the better and that, if the Lord tarries, she will have many more years of effective ministry in downtown Springfield.

If our little “baby church” can learn anything from a 155 year old church it is to remain faithful to the GOSPEL. When we begin to focus too much on insider information, we lose the hand of God. I pray for Finley Crossings that we would remain focused on those on the outside looking in. That we would not lose sight of the vision that we have tons of people coming to a relationship with Jesus Christ through this church family. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a 155th anniversary for Finley Crossings? Think of the LEGACY that we are leaving behind for generation after generation to come. REMAIN FAITHFUL . . . that is what I learned from an old bride this weekend.

North Point Church, Springfield, MO

Jenny, Taylor, Tucker and I had the privilege of going to North Point Church yesterday! We decided on Saturday night that we would go because it was a different denomination than ours, we have heard good things, but really the deciding factor was the noon service! Read more


Along with our Regeneration process, we are not having Sunday morning services (WHAT??? Can you do that??) so that we can visit other churches in our area to see how we can make our place better.? There are SO MANY great churches around here that we feel are “getting it done,” that we want our folks to watch and learn so that we can try to implement some of their strategies to make Finley Crossings the best it can be!? I want us to work on our CHURCH PLANTING eyes, so that this place really becomes the church we have envisioned it to be for ALL people!
I am starting a new category to help us “talk out loud” about the good (and bad) things we have experienced on our visits to other churches.? We are NOT, I repeat NOT going to badmouth any of our sister churches . . . so if you have a bad experience . . . please don’t mention the place by name.? I don’t want us to get the reputation of not wanting to support other churches.? If you had an awesome experience, like Jenny and I did yesterday . . . then by all means use the comments section of this post and mention their name and a link to their website.? You can also email me with your comments if you don’t want them on the world wide web.

Again, let’s learn together. . . but also like the Kindergarten teacher might say . . . “be nice and play nice with others!!”