Ministry Guidlines

As the men and I have been examining the future direction and purpose of the church here at Denton, we recognize that moving forward we need guidelines to keep us in check. This is what we spent the majority of Monday night talking about.

We divided those guidelines into two categories: Core Beliefs and Core Values. You might picture these as lines on each side of the ministry road we are traveling. They keep us heading toward the place we want to go. Core Beliefs are theological convictions on which we cannot waver. Core Values are characteristics which are important to us as we do ministry. They are not necessarily Biblical truths, but more values that we need to have to be effective at impacting our culture for Christ.

Here I will share with you some of them we discussed Monday night, and would invite you to share anymore you might think are vital.

Core Beliefs:
1. About Jesus- His divinity, perfection, substitute sacrifice and bodily resurrection provides the only path of salvation for man.
2. About Scripture- The Bible is the inerrant message God has given to men, and is our authority for life and faith.
3. About Salvation- Salvation from sin only comes through Jesus, by His grace, through Faith, at baptism, and results in good works.
4. About God- We believe there is one God, Yahweh God of the Bible, who exists eternally in three distinct persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(BTW- Isn’t is great that we have NO disagreement on these core beliefs among our core people?)

Core Values:
1. Excellence- If we are going to do something, it will be done well. No shoot-from-the-hip, half-baked programs. If we are going to do it, let’s do it right.
2. Relevance- Everything we preach/teach/do will explicitly show why it matters for today. We will take the burden of relevance.
3. Integrity- Every aspect of our ministry will be ‘above-board’ and will show a great deal of integrity. From how we handle finances, to the morality of leadership, integrity must be a core value in how we ‘do church.’
4. Cooperation- What we do will promote a spirit of togetherness and unity, not the following of a one man show.
5. Commitment- Being committed to the Lord and how this church is accomplishing her mission is another core value.

So, what are your thoughts? What questions does this stir up in you? Anything you would add? Anything you would take away? Feedback, feedback, feedback!

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of Friends,
Billy Johnson

Ministry Model

You will find attached to this email (or underneath if you are reading this on the blog) an illustration that sums up what the guys and I have been talking about for the last few weeks on Monday nights. Please note that this is a draft, it is still a work in progress, but we are coming to some good conclusions. This model represents how we as a church are going to begin doing ministry. Let me explain it to you:

You will notice first of all that the very central point of the model says, “Please Jesus”. That is our deepest philosophical, theological goal. We want everything we do to please Jesus, our King. That is the center of everything we do!

The wider circle is labeled ‘Make Disciples’. (red letters) We believe that the primary task we do that pleases Jesus is making disciples that follow Him. (See Matthew 28:18-20)

That circle has been divided into 3 areas. These represent the kind of disciples we want to make: People who Love God, Love People, and Serve Everywhere. (Blue Letters) Everything a disciple, a follower of Jesus is can be summed up in those 3 categories.

Beneath each of those categories is the main environment/program we plan to use to develop that aspect of discipleship. We think we can best help people connect to and express love to God through our Sunday worship services. We think we can best help people connect to and learn to love other people through a small group network. We think we can best help people connect to serving through an organized system of ministry teams.

Note that movement through the process shows growth. If someone is only coming on Sunday morning, they have some areas of growth to work on, namely, their people and service connection.

Note how simple this is! We are really only trying to do one thing: Make disciples. We are making disciples in 3 areas: Love God, Love People, Serve Everywhere! We are only asking those who choose to partner with us to do three things: Go to a together worship service, connection in a small group setting, and serve on a ministry team. (Of course, those involved in leadership would have more responsibility.) It is so simple and yet so profound.

Note that it will be through our service that outreach and compassion will be displayed in our community, which will in turn connect them to our Sunday worship service (which will be our main entry point for those outside the church) and get them involved in the process of becoming a follower (disciple) of Jesus.

This is absolutely a work in progress. We are far from finished, and even when we are finished putting it on paper, putting it into practice will be even harder. Please, give us some feedback. Ask some questions. Devote some time to prayer about this. We just want to please Jesus by making disciples!

Does all this make sense? Do you get it? Are you willing to commit to doing church this way?

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends,

Billy Johnson

Sunday Reflections

This morning was great. I hope you all caught the thrust of my message today: To be intentionally sharing your faith with people who do not follow Christ. If you wonder about some of the details, or maybe don’t understand my intentions, please know that you are always free and available to talk to me, email me, or call me with whatever questions you may have.

I am super excited about our future, and super pumped for the great things God is beginning to do in our lives, and in our church. May we continue to seek His paths, His way, and His wisdom.

Stuff I am thinking about this week:

-The schedule is normal this week (Sunday Night, Wednesday Night, Etc, etc) but changes beginning next Sunday morning.
-This is not an invitation to do nothing, but an invitation to think outside the box, and gain a perspective to guide us in a new direction.
– Next Sunday we begin a series of sermons called, “Look Out!” and I have to tell you, I am super pumped about sharing with you what God has been teaching me! If you’re interested, we are going to be letting God teach us from Isaiah 58:1-12 next week.
– Change your clocks next Saturday night!
– Rumor: a brand new Denton Christian Church Praise Team will be leading us in worship with live music next Sunday!
– We talked about prayer and fasting in Sunday School today. Maybe some good ‘ole New Testament prayer and fasting is what we need to be doing as we approach this brand new season of life in our church.
– Men @ My House– Monday Nights at 6:30 PM—We are talking about core beliefs and core vales tomorrow.
– Men’s Small Group Fellowship @ the McKinley’s on Nov 8– Rumor has it there is going to be a new, passionate, pumped up leader
– Ladies Small Group Fellowship– Meeting at the Rude’s house, beginning November 5. Ask Angie for details!
– I think my family is wicked cool! If you have facebook, check out the videos I posted.
– I am so stinkin’ pumped for everything God is about to unleash among us!

Anyway, Happy Sunday.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends,

Billy Johnson

Look Out!

“Look Out!” I was probably 11 years old when I heard those words. I was playing left field in the Little League’s “Fall Ball” league that played baseball about the time the Playoffs and World Series was happening. In fact, I had just caught my very first pop fly, and it was beautiful. (It was not that I had not had plenty of opportunities before, I just couldn’t seem to make that daggone ball get in and stay in my glove!!) So there I am, happy as all get out that I had actually caught the ball, when someone yelled, “Look Out!”

When you hear those words, most of the time someone is trying to change your focus to something you have missed or overlooked. Someone wants you to see something that is coming right for you. Such as when your wife sees those brake lights ahead, while you are too engrossed in the story that you are telling, and she yells, “Look Out!!” Well, that day, what I overlooked was the fact that the 3rd baseman didn’t think I could catch the ball. (In fact, that opinion was based on all the experience up to that point!) So, when the ball was popped out to the left field, instead of staying and letting me try to catch it, he begins running as hard as he can to the spot where the ball was coming down. Which happened to be the spot where I was (amazing, huh?) standing there with my first caught ball. Which happened to be the exact spot where he put his shoulder into my chest and we both went down. Yikes!

“Look Out!” is almost always an exclamation to draw our attention to something we might be overlooking. Next month, I will be preaching a series of sermons designed to draw our attention to something we might be overlooking. The series is called (surprisingly enough!) “Look Out!” and it will be all about us becoming an externally focused church. It will be all about us refocusing our attention and energy to those outside our church. It will be all about looking out!

It is no coincidence that this series is starting at the same time our first stage of restarting falls. In this first stage, we are going back to the bare minimum, and building back all our processes and programming from the ground up. In November, we are only be going to have Sunday Morning Worship Services. We are going to work on those a little bit, and try to make them as excellent as they can be. From there, as we gain a sense of who we are, and where we are going, we will build our processes and programming from a sense of mission and vision. Trust me, this is going to be an exciting time, as we rethink how we are going to ‘do church’.

So, I invite you to join me on this journey in November, to “Look Out!” and see, as Jesus said, that harvest (in Denton) is ready!

Members or Partners?

Have you ever wondered how our verbiage sounds today? What kind of impression it makes? You ever wondered if the way we use words doesn’t quite match up with the way others do, and we confuse people?

Take for example the term, “member”. For many, it insinuates that, “I have paid my dues/fees to a certain organization, and now I will get the benefits of the organization.” You become a member of a country club, and get to enjoy all the amenities they offer. You become a member of the YMCA and you get enjoy all the exercise equipment and the pool when you want. You become a member of a gun club, and you can go out there and shoot away at targets and such.

Do you ever wonder if our use of the word, ‘member’, in the church world is misleading? Sort of like saying, I have paid my dues (Baptism, Attendance, and Tithe) and now I should get my benefits (Pastoral Care, My Musical Preference, and Programs for me.) What I am getting at is that maybe our use of the word member clouds what we are really needing from people when they join with our local congregation.

Perhaps the word ‘partner’ is better. Partner has two immediate connotations in people’s minds: 1. being a part of team and 2. working. To say someone is a partner is to call them to work with your local team to accomplish the mission we are doing. And better yet, partner can be noun and verb. Not only are you a partner of Denton Christian Church, but you partner with them. It becomes not only what you are, but what you do!

Perhaps, considering member isn’t even a Biblical word, partner would serve our purposes of identification a little better. But beware, asking someone to be a partner is much more of a commitment than asking them to be a member.

What do YOU think?

Yours for the Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends,

Billy

Sorry So Long!!

My friends,

Sorry, I have not been emailing as much lately. I have been trying to get back into the groove of ministry. Getting back into the flow of sermon preparations, future planning, and all the other stuff. Sorry.

I laid out for you guys some plans and processes last week we are going to work through. To sum it up, we are going to do a church wide total make over. We are going to do everything differently. That is not to say we wont have some of the same kind of things happening, but that we are going to be doing them intentionally and on purpose to accomplish our mission in our community. But a total makeover in the church, just like in a home, is hard work.

One of the first things we must do is start completely over. What would a brand new church plant do the first Sunday they met? Only a Sunday morning service. That is what we are going to do in November. We are going to go back to the basics, and do Sunday morning, and do it well!

Then, as we plan and prepare together, we will build from there. One of the things we must do, is to have small groups meeting in homes. This is essential and vital to building relationships and community amongst ourselves. It also provides “safe” environments away from the church building that you can invite unchurched friends and family to. A lot of our first small groups will probably start from some of our current church programming. I know, for example, that some of you ladies out there are going to start getting together to continue your study. I have a feeling Spar is going to continue his study on “Letters to a Skeptic.” We may start some other targeted small groups. It is in these places of intimacy and fellowship that we will find great growth and much progress.

This is what I know: Far too often, we are far too busy, doing far too mediocre a job, and accomplishing far too little. Lets get back to the basics, learn to focus on a few things, do them well, and accomplish great things for King Jesus in our community.

Remember, I love Jesus, and I love you! I know that what lies ahead is beyond all we can ask or imagine!