Johnnys Blog
  • My Heart During Change

    I’ve met with so many of our GCC families who serve in multiple areas within our church, and it’s been an encouragement to me in getting to know the people who commit themselves to the giving of their time and talents.As I have met with people, they have shared stories of dear friends who have left Generations. I, too, know of many families that I met and walked with when I first came to the church, who are no longer here. Listening to our weekend host recently tell the story of good things happening at GCC, I couldn’t help but wonder if some people thought disinformation was given in order to create a better-than-actual narrative.  

    I think it is important for you to understand the posture of my heart on these matters.

    • Many of the people who have left GCC are fun, loving, serving, and kind brothers/sisters in Christ.  
      • Jesus says that unbelievers will always be in the church and He alone will separate them out upon His return (Matthew 25). I am speaking in generalities, because I don’t know every person who has left, but I think it is crucial that you know my heart on the matter. I do not believe that we have lost bad people; rather I think we have lost fellow royal priests (1 Peter 2:9).
    • People matter, so how we let go matters also.  
      • We don’t own anyone, as they are not our people. They are His people. He may be specifically calling them to something He needs them to do. Because of this, it is my desire to let go with grace and peace. It matters how obediently each of us walks through the doors God opens in our lives. Romans 12:18 should set the posture of our hearts, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  I am willing to reach out, listen, and/or meet with anyone who has concerns or hurts. It would be regrettable for anyone to ever leave a church and for that person or family to not be contacted in some way. We are all called to make sure that we let people go with a blessing and Christian love.

    Like many of God’s people, we don’t get to choose to whom we preach the Gospel. Peter was set against the Gospel being for the gentile and Jonah was not enthusiastic about those he was called to preach God’s message. Our job is obedience to God’s calling in our lives.I am astounded at how quickly our community is growing and changing. So many new homes and these new families will be coming to our campus for Trunk or Treat during our fall festival in a few weeks. These families may choose to attend Gen in 5 or Connect Class and that will change the trajectory of their family forever. Our continued focus needs to be on lost people. This reality sets the tone for the decisions that are being made in our church. How are we making decisions?

    • Prayerfully
      • It’s one thing to assume that Christian leaders pray. I am praying consistently for the wisdom and guiding of the Holy Spirit as we make decisions for our church. I would ask you to join me in praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the work at GCC.
    • Through the lens of priorities
      • It is possible to edify the body of believers with our services and position ourselves as attractive to unbelievers at the same time. What you win people with, you keep them with. Our power is in the reality that our God is alive and working in the lives of His people. Decisions are made primarily in a specific order, that which is best for the people of our church. This ranks over what is best or easiest for staff every time. This ranks over what is best for me personally or politically. The mission of our church is to connect people to Christ. That has not changed. Our strategies all line up to achieve that objective.  

    What is our current vision?
    We all learn in different ways. This point has been discussed during our staff meetings, on a regular basis. There is a different significance, however; when things are communicated in written form. Hopefully, this will help to bring clarity to all of us as we work diligently in our areas of focus.

    Excellence
    We are unashamed of programs used as a strategy to allow us to be around people. I am also theologically unashamed of attractional worship. There is no limit to what level of extravagance that God expected from Israel in building the temple and expressing their love for our Heavenly Father. There are some appropriate guidelines to follow no doubt; is it about Him and for Him and not actually for us? Does it creatively draw others to see Jesus high and lifted up and does our offering clearly represent the Gospel in a way that edifies the body? This is not an exhaustive list, but it is important for all of us to know our stance on excellence in all areas. The things we do all have value and targeted returns on the kingdom investment. The posture of our hearts in matters of excellence is found in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

    Discipleship
    Getting people connected to programs is a step toward the ultimate goal: finding or deepening a life with Jesus. Jesus met people where they were. He healed them before He instructed them. He fed them before He preached to them. In one instance, He even helped them catch fish before putting them to other work. The design of many of our programs is to serve a felt need so that we can earn the right to serve the underlying need we all have. Jesus clearly calls us to make disciples. The commandment to make disciples points to a process. We are dedicated to moving our entire church towards that mission. This begins with the eldership and staff. We are all called to model discipleship to our body. We seek people to mentor us as we mentor others.

  • Do These Things Still Work?

    We are excited to welcome our community to a party on our beautiful campus this fall! This party is called Trinity Fest. There will be something for everyone, including carnival rides, food trucks, Christian concerts, outside church services, and much more. There will be a ministry tent and an opportunity to encourage people to join us in sponsoring 1,000 kids through CMFI. 

    But do ideas like these actually help connect people to Christ?

    I met a couple in our lobby over the weekend who were first-time visitors. They shared that their family has been looking for a church for a while and initially came to our campus, because the daughter's preschool is meeting here on our campus. GCC has been partnering with a local school that did not get their new facility finished in time for the new year, so for the past few weeks this family has become familiar with who we are. This led them to visit our church and attend service.

    The parents went on to explain that they had been on the church property one time before. That encounter with our church was the 2017 Trinity Fest event. They never went into The Gathering or attended a service at that time, but they remembered there was a church off of Little Road.

    Everyone has a story about what got them into the life of a church body. I do believe that God’s design is to use His people and the structure of the church to reach lost people. Sometimes people have a single encounter that ushers them quickly and somewhat miraculously into the body of Christ. It may be a health crisis or another cataclysmic event that stops them in their tracks and changes the course of their lives forever. However, there can also be the story of many little steps that moves a person from a position of not thinking about God to fully integrating into church life.

    The power of the Gospel and the strength of the church are the PEOPLE that are in it! As I stood and shook hands with this husband who seemed to have been along for the ride to church on that Sunday, I understood what was happening. He wasn’t ready to sign up for a weekly men’s group to share his personal shortcomings. Does he need that? Yes, we all do, but his first steps are significant! Jesus meets people where they are.

    This fall, as we plan childcare for classes, plan men’s breakfast events, plan an outside stage for five nights of Trinity Fest, and plan the many other events that will take place here at Generations, it is our prayer that God does the miraculous. These are not programs. These are places of holy gatherings where God’s holy priesthood will reflect the beauty of the functioning body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our builder and He equips us in all things.

    The mission of our church is to connect people to Christ.  The vision is made clear for us in the book of Acts 2:42. May we be a community that is consistently devoted to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. 

    Attractional methods of evangelism never work in and of themselves. It is the people, whose lives have been radically changed that do the work of attracting lost people to Jesus.

  • A Festival with hidden agendas . . .

    Many people know what a music festival looks like - A huge stage with lots of bands and food trucks, right? While the music part of Trinity Fest is new this year, the midway carnival, 5K, community business expo and fun entertainment for families celebrating the fall is not! So what is the hidden agenda? It can’t really be hidden if it’s out there in the open, right? Trinity Fest 2018 has some secrets that we can’t wait to share!

    Trinity Fest is going into the community! We think that a Festival can change the lives of people. “Life Changing” is rather big brand promise. While Trinity Fest might look like every other festival you’ve seen; there are a few things you need to know!

    One is that the Music festival is actually free and the emcee for this 4-night party at Generations Christian Church has a mission while he is here. Eric Samuel Timm partners with schools and communities nationwide to provide value-based public and private school assembly programs. While using the power of art, Eric lands each message. Further aiding the presentation, Eric uses humor and examples from his own powerful, personal adventures to stories from the student’s very own textbooks to make an impact on their lives. Eric stirs up what lays dormant and leaves students and staff inspired. When he speaks, they’ll listen. When he paints, you will see art speak louder than words. One recent teacher at a school assembly with Eric said, “There was dead silence, at times, and then the roar of laughter. The students wanted to listen.”

    Kurt Browning, Pasco county school superintendent says, “We really appreciate Generations Christian Church offering these opportunities to our students.”

    You can get a sneak peek of Eric’s school assemblies at www.paintingHOPE.com. This isn’t an ordinary Fall Festival. It has an underlying mission to encourage the students of Pasco County schools. Kids need hope, kids need to laugh, kids need to be encouraged.


    Trinity Fest Secrets:

    •  The 4 Night Music Festival is FREE, October 25th-28th
    • A Free Trunk or Treat Night on Wednesday, October 24th
    • Special artist, Eric Samuel Timm, will be appearing at local high schools and middle schools across the counties with a message of hope
    • Trinity Fest is expecting over 10,000 visitors over 5 days of events for the local community, business leaders, foodies and connoisseurs of fall festivities.
    • Trinity Fest will be your gateway to the world!

    How can a festival reach across the world and ultimately take you there?

    Missions of Hope is an organization that started 20 years ago in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya through one young lady’s dream of making a difference. Today, more than 16,000 children have education and meals provided to them. The next generation of leaders in Africa is growing and we can partner with them to deliver continued hope. Trinity Fest 2018 has the goal of sponsoring 1,000 kids in 5 days! Sponsoring a child means that a child gets a teacher, clothes to go to school, meals, and most of all, hope! $36 a month sponsors a child and a future leader.


    The music, food and carnival rides are sure to be great; but changing the future of a child and bringing hope across the world will always be the heartbeat of Trinity Fest!

    Check out all that is going on and mark your calendars!

    Trinity Fest Info

  • This article is for all of us.

    I am reluctant to put a title on this article concerning what it’s about. The reason I don’t want to do that is it would be terrible for many of us to see the title and say, “that has nothing to do with me or my life or anyone I know”.

    What if I were to tell you something grew by 72%...seems like a lot of growth to me? What if I were to tell you that the thing that grew by 72% in the past 10 years was something that is very bad and devastates everyone in contact with it. I would find that alarming.

    You know the look that a person gives you when they are truly in total shock? Sam’s brother was looking at his youth pastor with THAT look. “Something has happened to my brother”, the young man said to his pastor. The regular Wednesday night youth service was about to begin in five minutes. Both Sam and his brother would normally be hanging out with the other kids as they gathered like every other normal week, but not this week. Something would shift everything this week.

    The look that this young man gave his pastor must have conveyed more than words ever could. The pastor handed out duties for others to carry on the weekly event and left to drive to Sam’s house. Little did he know that the next 24 hours would be the hardest day of his life. This would be a Wednesday night that would change the lives of an entire community. The tragic news finally became clear.

    A father found his sophomore son hanging in the basement.

    He was hanging from the beams on the ceiling. All alone, the father got his son down on the floor and administered CPR until a pulse returned. The paramedics arrived with the youth pastor and again the pulse was gone; the paramedics got the pulse back on the way to the hospital. After another ambulance ride to a larger hospital and hours of no sleep, the family finally dealt with the reality that their 16-year-old son had committed suicide. Dad was mowing the grass. Mom was at the grocery store. They were going to watch a movie later that night they had already picked out. There was no final conversation that gave them a tip or raised concerns.

    The family would gather around their son with a community and ultimately hear the news that their son, brother, friend was brain dead. A shocked church and devastated high school would spend the next days under a dark cloud.

    The most difficult thing about this story is that though I have changed the names of the people represented here to protect privacy; this story is everywhere; these people are everywhere. It seems no one is untouched. I personally have encountered this tragic tale time and again this year alone through many pastor friends across our nation. It has brought us to our knees.

    We are all interconnected. When one person hurts in a community, ultimately, the rest of the community feels it. The ramifications of one person, who is in a place of confusion or loneliness, can make ripples that extend to every corner of our society.

    The family knew that their child had been struggling with some common depression; they had even been dealing with the signs and taking steps they thought were appropriate. How did it escalate this quickly without anyone realizing it? This young man was very much like many people you and I see every day.

    Mental illness can be debilitating and it can be aggressive.

    September is the National Suicide Awareness Month. Not all cases of mental illness end tragically, but if one does, it is one to many. So what can we do? The best place to start is to know the signs of suicide:

     What are the signs?

    Are your loved ones talking about: 

    • Unbearable pain
    • Feeling trapped
    • Having no reason to live
    • Being a burden to others

    Do your loved ones have these behaviors?

    • Withdrawing from activities
    • Acting recklessly
    • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
    • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
    • Isolating from friends or family
    • Aggression
    • Giving away possessions
    • Researching suicide methods

     Does their mood display any of these signs?

    • Depression
    • Rage
    • Irritability
    • Lack of interest
    • Humiliation

    Land on hope.

    Hope is central to who God made us to be. God is even known as the one who is “of hope”. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When we loose hope, we loose our footing in the battle against mental illness.

    Stand with others.

    One way to get hope is to stand with others who can lend a hand up. You are not the only person struggling like this. Others have gone before you and found victory and you can too. Here are some resources for you if you are struggling or if you alone:

    • Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 crisis support to those in need. To get connected with a free crisis counselor, text TWLOHA to 741741.
    • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. All you have to do is call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
    • The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. The organization also has a free crisis lifeline, online chat, and text option. If you need help, call 1-866-488-7386.
    • The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

    Hope begins to take deep root when we all say that the problem is OURS. If we all take ownership of the solution, we start to find real hope for the growing casualties of mental illness. When we all become aware of the warning signs, we can all help. When no one stands alone any longer, true hope can take deep root.

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