Johnny's Blog
  • What I'm REALLY Thinking...

    And asking you to think about. 

    I’ve really been struggling with something. You actually know it and can feel it I think. It’s evident in some things we are trying together recently. I even mentioned the genesis of this recent angst a few weeks ago in a sermon. I believe we are being called to intentionally shift towards culture, not in our message, but in our strategy, to keep on mission. Some of those shifts will impact your comfort and the short version is I’m asking all of us to prayerfully consider what Jesus is asking us to yield to in order that He might be lifted up. You can skip here and get the cliff notes/bottom line/ new things that might impact you.

    I put a quote on the screens about the failure of most churches in America. The reality has hit home hard and I’ve been asking so many questions about who God is calling GCC to be after reading that quote. You might remember it better if I remind you that I had a deck of cards in my hand to help illustrate the point It came from Jim Putnam’s book, “Church is a team sport”. The staggering quote was,

    “Only 15% of churches in America are growing, of those, only 3% are growing with new people. That means that most church ‘growth’ is just reshuffling the same 52 cards in the deck in a different order.”

    This snapshot of the American church has been on my mind and so I’ve been reading, visiting with other pastors around the country who are in the 3% that are growing, listening to you, working with consultants (Thanks for taking the survey) and praying. I’ve uncovered some insights and formed, with some great help a complex answer to that question. BUT, I have boiled it down to the a more simple basic answer I want to put in front of us. Many churches are not connecting people to Jesus because . . . they don’t want to. Sound harsh? It’s not that people don’t want others to know about Jesus?, they just want other things more. Not a lot more, it only takes a little bit more desire for something to see our main goal snuffed out. The hardest thing about this contemplative journey I’ve been on is that I’ve discovered I’m the worst! Okay, it’s confession time, here are the things I’ve done that hurt our main goal:

    • Announcements that non-believers don’t care about
    • Talking insider language (things that make people feel uninvited or on the outside)
    • Asking people to make a decision to connect to Jesus but not making time for them to process it and take a first step

    I believe in the importance of the gathering of believers for edification, the communion meal and fellowship. We all get to enjoy our corporate times of worship together but a tension does exist on what we do and how. What normally gets hurt as we accommodate our personal preferences is the mission. There is a clear New Testament practice of non-believers in the midst of the gathering and Jesus, Acts 2:47 “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” How can we get closer to that description of the church?

    If you are new to Generations Christian Church you might not know some of the history. In fact, Generations has a long history of being the church for people who are unchurched, hurt by church or against church in general. Former GCC pastor Greg Johnson has regularly said to me, ‘there are plenty of churches for people who believe already, I wanted to be a church for those farthest from Jesus.” Thankfully, GCC has been ‘connecting people to Jesus’ with that mindset for a long time. How can we continue this and be more effective?

    Bring A Friend Weekend

    The ‘Bring A Friend Weekend’ tactic is an effort to help all of us take a step towards being in the 3%. Remember the startling quote about failing churches? There are churches that are growing by connecting new people to Jesus, people who are new cards in the deck! This is exciting to experience and it’s happening right here at our church. Let’s all be working towards the same goal! Does inviting someone to church mean we are connecting them to Christ? Not always, but, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our commitment is to clearly tell people about Jesus and let them make a decision to connect to Him that weekend. What a great step towards being in the 3%.

    • Optimal times
    • If one third of us who attend 2nd and 3rd service invite a friend we will be out of seats. Will some of you plan to attend and bring someone on Saturday Night or Sunday and let us know! We don’t want Sunday services empty; but we want visitors to have a great experience too. Help out the process by thinking about attending a less prime time service.
    • Optimal Length. We always need a few extra minutes to process what God is doing in our midst and just be in His presence. Because we believe that we should have communion every weekend in our service our one hour box can get a bit tight and we don’t want to rush any important element of our worship.
    • Grab some of our small invite square cards and pass them out/ they are no good after BAFW because the times are special!
    • No OFFERING: We are not going to pass for an offering on Bring A Friend Weekend (November 23-24th). We are going to talk about our mission and the things we do with Kingdom resources! We just are not going to ask your friends to give.
    • The bags are usually empty because many of us give online. Some get the impression that we all are not “in” on the mission or that the church has nobody giving at all. Neither is true. Over 50% of those who consistently tithe give on-line automatically. May we all give generously online this week and show your support for our decision to not pass the offering bags on this weekend. Here’s how you can give online:
    • http://www.generationscc.com/give Click on “Give Here”
    • Underneath is even a video to show you how to set it up if you need help. Text to give: 84321

     Here’s How You Can Choose Adventure

    We have to point our hearts where we want them to go. If we don’t, our own desires will, by default, lead us to selfishness. Jesus came to serve. He is our ultimate example. It is at times like these that those who are most mature in Christ have the opportunity to truly lead by serving. Sometimes we don’t need another class or bible study, we need something to do for somebody else. Transformation comes through putting our Bible knowledge into actions and here are two things we can all DO to be on the adventure together:

    PRAYER: Let’s all Join together Tuesday Night at 7pm for a dedicated service of prayer and worship for Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be handing out shirts to everyone who signs up to serve in an area on Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be doing baptisms and have brand new baptism shirts for people!

    SERVE: Okay, here’s the truth. We don’t NEED another volunteer to pull this off. Seriously. Have you ever heard a church say that? We don’t need another car parker or kids worker to pull it off. The same people who always do it will do it. But it won’t have the excellence and impact it could have. Imagine a team of people cheering kids and helping parents fill out paperwork! Imagine more car attendants than we really need, all wearing new GCC shirts and greeting people over and over again as they walk in. THIS IS WHAT makes people start to believe that Jesus really can help them with their “This Is Your Time” moment.

     

    Cliff Notes

    • We are trying some different service times.
    • We are not collecting offering that weekend. We are giving online and crushing our weekly budgetary need cheerfully.
    • We are doing spontaneous baptisms that weekend.
    • Prayer/Worship Service 11/19 7PM / Volunteer T-shirt handout.
    • We don’t need any more servers in any area . . . unless they want to party! 
  • What Happened To Trinity Fest?

    I recently received an email from a writer on the Mitchel High School newspaper staff. They are running an article on 'Why GCC canceled Trinity Fest,' and I wanted to take an opportunity to let everyone peek into our leadership meetings and decision process concerning this fall's strategy in connecting people to Christ locally! Since so many teens attend Trinity Fest, and since this topic is of interest to them, I thought I would post our comments for the paper in full because they convey the heart and hope of Generations Christian Church over the next few weeks!

    Dear Mitch High School News Paper Reporter,

    Thanks for reaching out to us to comment! We estimate that 8,000 people visited Trinity Fest last year and it was a fun event for our whole community. I, personally, LOVE this event and participated in everything from the 5K to the business expo and especially ate the equivalent of my weight in elephant ears.

    Our main goal is 'to connect people to Christ' at Generations. So with everything we do, we evaluate how effective each tactic is that we employ to connect people in meaningful ways relationally to our church and Christ.

    Our analysis showed that Trinity Fest was a GOOD event, and we look forward to bringing it back in the upcoming years. Our data also showed us that, of those 8,000 visitors, almost half of them also attended our one-night Fall Festival and Trunk-R-Treat event! This event proved to be one of our BEST events!

    Because of this analysis, we have chosen to pause the tradition of Trinity Fest, in some respects, for the fall of 2019 and focus on working in more effective ways to achieve our primary goal while wisely using our resources for the most positive impact on our local community.

    We are making our Fall Festival event on October 30th bigger this year with more family experiences, bounce houses, food trucks, and MORE decorated trunks with candy!

    For students at Mitchell High School, we have a special event each month called "1st Wednesday". This event happens every 1st Wednesday of the month at 7 pm for all students. We have put lots of resources into themed party environments, food, and massive inflatable games. This tactic has helped our Youth ministry grow every week. We are seeing high school students meet other kids, make friends, get into small groups, and get connected with mentors. 

    This decision was just one of many we are doing that make an impact all year long and helps Generations realize our goal of connecting people to Christ more effectively!

    Feel free to use any or part of the quotes above, and I'd also love to personally invite you to come out on a Wednesday to visit or get some photos for your article. Thanks again for letting us participate.

    Blog Postscript

    I was so excited to have pastor Mickey preach the second message in our current series, "This Is Your Time: Discipleship." This message is our main strategy, to seek and find lost people. The next part of Jesus' instruction is to baptize and teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded (Matt 28 16-20). The way we say it is simply this, "Connecting People to Christ."

    There is an urgency and expectancy we are concentrating on as a church right now with our tag line, "This Is Your Time." We could have a massive festival and attract 10,000 people to our church property. That would be wonderful, and we would all rejoice at the influence for Christ we worked for. But even if that endeavor was financially successful in stewarding the provision of the Lord, and everyone also had a good time, it would still not guarantee we were moving faster towards our goal of making disciples! This is our priority, and we have a responsibility to consider it in each decision moving forward.

    There is no doubt I do believe that getting people on our campus is a significant first step towards more in-depth community. When people come on our campus, we must be ready to engage them intentionally, and our church does a great job at this! We must be wise as we decide which tactics we use and in which order. 

    I think the best illustration here comes from Jim Collins highly regarded book, Good to Great. Jim uses the idea of a flywheel or child playground Merry-Go-Round. It is very difficult to start pushing a fully weighted down Merry-Go-Round. However, once it is in full motion, a person can simply stand and maintain the speed by an occasional gentle tap the Merry-Go-Round. The amount of inertia it takes to start a big thing, like Trinity Fest, is much greater than the energy it takes to sustain it or add it to an organization that is already spinning quickly and effectively in the right direction.

    So the next question in our strategic process is, "What tactics gain momentum towards our goal of connecting people to Christ the fastest?" What tactics are the most cost-effective and, at the same time, have the most substantial return on the kingdom investment? We invest time, resources, and creativity into many programs. The metric that we must always evaluate our strategies success by is "how many new people are being connected to Christ?" As a staff and leadership team, we have been prayerfully asking these questions for the past year.

    We are looking forward to so many wonderful events and gathering times that reach out to our community and friends over this fall season! A person could not possibly attend them all! This is your time to engage the community God has placed you in and connect them to Christ!

  • These Things I Leave You ...


    You're not going to want to miss a single week of this next series. If you are on vacation make sure you log in live (HERE) or catch up during the week because this new series is great for Christians who need to take a more in-depth look or those who have yet to make a confession to our Lord of belief!

    Invite your friends, nag your family, and make sure you are tuned in because This Is Your Time to dive deeper, understand more, and take a quantum leap in your life spiritually.

    Think about the bold statements that Christ made during His ministry! The Kingdom of Heaven is here! In the course of all human events has a more critical news scoop ever existed? The physical reality that we all know has been interrupted by the collision of the spiritual realm. Jesus himself broke the news when He announced, “The Kingdom of Heaven has arrived”. Three years later, he was gone and vanished into a cloud. His followers thought, "What now?"

    Jesus left us with a mission and the tools to accomplish the task. If the Church is the vehicle, then what elements give it power? "These Things I Leave You . . ." is a series all about the aspects of the church that Jesus himself instituted. We can't overlook the perfect plans He laid either himself or through His closest Apostles. We will look at these foundational elements that Jesus left us with to build His Kingdom here: Worship, Gifts of the Spirit, Scripture, Baptism, Communion, and the Hope of Heaven.

    This is not an exhaustive list. Clearly, other things connect us to the power source of Christ like prayer, service, and obedience. Many of those essential elements to our Christian walk will come up in the series. Jesus introduced new things we need and reformed some Jewish customs to prepare us for joy in the task before us.

    Don’t Miss A Week!

    WORSHIP | June  8 & 9

    Core Verse: John 4:23

    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 

    Narrative Text: Exodus 40 | Tabernacle Experience

    UNITY | GIFTS | June 15 & 16

    Core Verse: Ephesians 4:4-7

    There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    Narrative Text: Acts 15 | Circumcision

    SCRIPTURE | June 22 & 23

    Core Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

    Narrative Text: Mark 4:35-5:43

    BAPTISM | June 29 & 30

    Core Verse: Acts 2:38

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Narrative Text: Exodus 14-15 | Crossing Sea

    COMMUNION | July 6 & 7

    Core Verse: John 6:53

    Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 

    Narrative Text: Exodus 12-13 | Passover

    HEAVEN | July 13 & 14

    Core Verse: Revelation 21:1-3

    Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

    Narrative Text: Revelation 21-22 | Heaven

  • 2019 Core 52 Sermon Series

    I’ve announced a few times earlier this year about the exciting 2019 Core 52 sermon series plan. I am personally excited because I have the opportunity to partner with a dear friend on this project and the experience we are having on the weekends is awesome. Here is what we are working on in 2019:

    Core 52 is a content road map for the weekend corporate teaching. Mark Moore is the developer and author of a book called Core 52. Mark has also custom designed a road map just for GCC, connecting the top 52 essential verses in God's Word with the top 52 ‘can't miss’ narrative texts! Now, I have to give this sidebar real quick, this isn’t legalistic folks! We know there isn’t a passage that says, "here are the most important verses." (besides when Jesus said this is the GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL in Matthew 22!) However, after years of study and teaching at the collegiate level, Mark has zeroed in on what he believes are the most important texts to build on. If we start with these 52 verses and 52 narrative texts, the base knowledge in both testaments and primary historical contexts will prove to be a firm bible foundation. This is one of the significant things that we are all called to do, ‘teach and closely watch out for sound doctrine’ in 1Timothy 4:16.

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed that we are in a long 52 week series. That is because our creative arts team has broken the larger series into smaller mini-series with compelling theming (Thanks to our team!). We are super thankful for the road map that Mark has created. We would encourage you to grab his book too! Don’t worry, this won’t spoil the GCC weekend experience! God’s Word is deep and wide! Sometimes we have tracked just with the main memory verse and haven’t had time to use the narrative text as the means to explain or teach the memory verse. There’s nothing wrong with this! We can’t go wrong when we are opening God’s Word and digging in. Some of the themes will line up for sure with Mark’s book, but our custom GCC mini-series and weekly snapshots are tailor-made for what we are experiencing here at GCC!

    Here is the win for our church and how you can participate:

    • Join us in memorizing these 52 verses here!
    • Join us in taking a quantum leap in understanding God's Word in a deeper way!
    • Pray for God to help you understand His Word in a deeper way.
    • Invite anyone who doesn’t understand God’s plan for their life to join us on this journey at GCC.
    • Watch this video HERE

    This is Your Time . . . to Dive Deeper!


  • Special ingredients for our season . . .

    If we were to look at the necessary ingredient list for our new choir initiative, it would read like the labels we see in stores on ordinary products we buy every day. I never looked at ingredient labels until we had kids. I soon came to find out that my favorite items had the first, and thus largest volume, an ingredient of ‘high fructose corn syrup.' Come to find out, all of my favorite foods, that I thought were different, were actually just different textures and colors of the same main ingredient- corn syrup.

    Ingredients matter and so have been prayerfully considering the elements that we add to our new Choir initiative. I imagine you are thinking now about the correct first and most important ingredient. This is a metaphor so don't blow a fuse thinking and overthinking this theologically. The environment we are making our Choir in has some given elements that are foundational and not considered ingredients. These things would include the Holy Spirit, Faith, and Unity in Christ. These things are so elementary to what we do that they are as Paul described in Acts 17:28 how we, "...live and move and have our being."

    Here are our ingredients: Leadership and Songs!

    We invite you to welcome both and get to know them!

    Ingredient #1 Leadership

    Jonathan Wimp is a worship leader and music Director that I have known since college. We both attended Cincinnati Christian University around the same time and traveled together leading worship when Matchbox 20 was a popular band.

     

     “I grew up in a small but strong church in the southern Indiana town of Scottsburg, where the Lord called me to Himself and eventually into ministry. Following His call has taken my family and me all over the country where I have served in local churches over the last 23 years. 

     My wife, Julia (who is Russian) and I met in Moscow, Russia in 2003 and in February we will celebrate our 12th anniversary. We have three little girls: Nelly (9 years old), Mila (5 years old), and Amily (like Emily but with an "Ah" sound, 2 years old) who are teaching us daily about the love of God.

    I have dedicated my life to the service of the Lord and am excited to partner with and lead those the Lord has and will call to service through Worship Ministry. I can't wait to meet, grow with, worship with, and serve you! Be Blessed!”

    A Word From Jonathan

    Ingredient #2 Songs

    "Raise a Hallelujah"

    "Great Things"

    "It is Finished" - Passion

    If you missed some of my previous thoughts on starting a GCC Choir I would ask you to take a look at the first blog I wrote a few months ago and see the heart behind the vision:

    Choir Blog

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