A few weeks ago in a sermon, I made reference to an old story called "My Heart, Christ's Home" in which a person's heart is referred to as Christ's dwelling place, much like an actual home complete with rooms, halls and closets. The idea is that many Christians invite Jesus "into their heart" which is just another way of saying we have put our faith and trust in Jesus alone for salvation and invited him to have control of our lives. Yet, we keep parts of our heart closed off to Jesus. Similar to inviting a guest for dinner, we would welcome them into the living room and kitchen but we wouldn't open up all the closets or the basement storage area. With Jesus, we want him to save us and bless us and allow us to spend eternity with Him but at the same time we limit his work in our lives. With this in mind, over the next few weeks I want to explore the last 5 things Christians give to God.

    This is not a list generated by an intense study and surveys of Christians over the last 2 millenia. It is a list based on almost 40 years of observing the Church, both as a member and as a pastor. I welcome your feedback on it and perhaps we can have some dialogue about it as well. 

      Often when a person decides to follow Jesus they are immediately drawn to the reading and studying of God's word. This is great and many new Christians grow in their knowledge of God's word right away. But the knowledge of God's word doesn't always translate right away into life change. For example, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says we are the temple of the living God. This means we are actually a dwelling place for his Spirit. But this truth doesn't always cause us to begin taking better care of this temple - our bodies. On our list of things Christians are slow to submit to God, the first one we'll explore is - HABITS. This is a broad term but what we're talking about here are the ingrained ways of living that we've become so accustomed to we no longer think about how they affect others or how they conflict with what the Bible says.

      When I was a young man I never thought about how my temper was a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. I was in a bad habit of expressing my anger in negative ways. I never even considered that I should rely on God to tame it. I also had a judgmental spirit. I was in a terrible habit of making snap judgments of people I met. It took years for this to be confronted in my life and dealt with. What about you?

       Here are some examples: We all have our morning and evening routines. Are we willing to adjust those to make room for prayer and time with God? Maybe we make it a habit to deliver commentary (both verbal and nonverbal) to other drivers on the road. Or maybe we've built a reputation on being a tough guy but now Christ's love asks us to be compassionate. Perhaps we've made a career out of biting sarcasm and raised it to an art form. Our attitude and comments result in subtle put downs of those around us. And then there's the obvious habits like what we eat or drink that may not be expressly forbidden by God but could get between us and Him. I could go on. The point is that we all have habits and ways of living that are just part of us but they are not necessarily pleasing to God. We must ask God to help us adjust our habits so they reflect a heart devoted to him. God doesn't want you to change the personality he gave you. It's who you are. But who you are can be expressed in God honoring ways if you'll ask him to help you change.

     These types of changes are often the last things we surrender to God because they are the things most attached to who we are and the attributes least likely to be called out by loving Christian brothers and sisters. We are asked to bear with one another and love each other. But the same love that helps us put up with each other is the same love that must inspire us to gently point out where Christ's transforming power is needed. 

     So, are there any personal quirks or habits that need to be submitted to the Lordship and leadership of Jesus?

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On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now, the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired life-boat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a symbolic life-boat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them didn't look like most of the people in the club. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

We have worked through some core convictions this summer and we finally come to the last one in this series: Evangelism is most effective when the church acts like the Church outside of the building on Sundays. 

This is a truth we must be convinced of if the church is to move forward and be used by God. Too often the church is viewed like the lifesaving station in the story above. There is a tendency to simply hope that people see we are Christians and will want to come to our church or worship Jesus because we do. We want anything or anyone to lead someone to Jesus as long as we don't have to open our mouths and profess our faith. We are the frightened ones rather than the faithful ones.

    Evangelism is about telling others the good news of all Jesus has done. This is proclaimed from the pulpit of faithful Gospel-centered churches but it should be proclaimed everywhere a Christian goes. Some look at the pastor as the person paid to "get people in the doors" and to "grow the church". After all, isn't that part of his job? The Biblical truth is that the pastor is an equipper. A mobilizer. A person who prepares others to minister and serve. (Ephesians 4:!2) In other words, my job is to get you ready to go out and share Jesus with people who don't come to the building on Sunday. In fact, the work of the church doesn't even really take place on Sunday! We worship yes, but the real work of the church, "going into all the world making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded" (Matthew 28:19-20) is done Monday through Saturday.

     Are you willing to share your faith in Jesus with people around you? What is holding you back from going on a lifesaving mission Monday through Saturday? 

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I create a to do list every week. At the start of each week I group all of my tasks into different categories. Administrative tasks, vision and mission tasks, teaching, pastoral care and so on. I also have a category for everything that's happening outside of work, like home projects, kids sports and family get-togethers. Then, throughout the week I work my way down the list crossing things off as I go. During some seasons of life I find myself writing the same task down several weeks in a row. There's often too much in a given week to get it all done. If I could temporarily duplicate myself I'm certain I could get everything done. I wouldn't want a duplicate of me all the time or it could become like the plot of a science fiction movie. Things would get weird. And I might actually be talking to myself.

But the idea of duplication is actually biblical. No, not the genetic kind of duplication but copying oneself for the purpose of ministry. The apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:13 "Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." Later he says in 2:2, "and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." He wanted Timothy to follow his example and then have other men follow Timothy's example.

It is my conviction that "Every leader should be purposefully reproducing themselves". This is the model Jesus established for us and is the most successful way of extending beyond ourselves. Each person can only do so much. Every Christian leader, whether you are overseeing the nursery or in charge of cleaning the building should be pouring their knowledge, skill and experience into someone else. "Train your replacement" is what a business might tell an outgoing employee. That's what Christians are to be doing all the time. The church has existed in strength for 2000 years because men and women have trained the next generation of Christ followers. Many have been like Paul, and taken on a Timothy to mentor and train. Are you a Paul or a Timothy? Are you leading and training someone or are you being led and trained by someone? If you aren't in either category, pick one and get to work. Every Christian and every leader should be purposefully reproducing themselves. "Purposefully" means intentional. We need to do this on purpose, not just hope it happens as we live life. Are you duplicating yourself right now?

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Over and over as I talk to people, I find that even if they are attending a church regularly, they don't always feel connected to others. Sometimes it's in a big church so they love the preaching or the music or the wide variety of ministries but they lack personal connection. It's so big they can attend weekly and only occasionally see someone they know. To really connect they have to get involved in a home bible study but even then, the chances of seeing those people on the weekend at church are small. Unfortunately, making connections in a small church can be just as difficult. It seems like it would be easier because there are fewer people. There is no crowd to get lost in or busyness to get caught up in. Even so, some fail to connect in a meaningful way to the people in the church. Usually it's because in a small church people tend to huddle up and miss the new people coming in. (Thankfully, I've seen lots of improvement at the Road on this one!)

It is essential that as a church we make it our goal to connect people in meaningful relationships. This means that we are constantly trying to introduce people to one another. We are inviting them to our FUEL groups. We are trying to have lunch or dinner gatherings after Sunday service. Maybe our families do something fun together on a Saturday afternoon. We schedule informal get-togethers throughout the week. Any way we can get to know people in the church.

I am naturally a connector. Introducing people to one another comes easily to me. When I meet someone I'm automatically thinking about who I should introduce them to. Not everyone thinks this way. But we can all make attempts to connect with people. Lately there have been lots of visitors and new people attending each campus. Make the effort to get to know them. Maybe they don't seem anything like you and don't appear to have much in common. You never know. You might get surprised. I'll never forget sitting down with the Caldwells and finding out that Bonnie and Jody's families came from the same tiny town in North Carolina. So random! Even if you don't have crazy connections or much in common you are helping yourself and others to connect in meaningful ways, beyond just, "hey, what's up?" on a Sunday morning.

People who feel connected in a church, no matter the size, are more likely to stay  over the long term.

If you are new to the Road, welcome! I hope we're helping you connect. If you are a long-time Roadster, be a connector. Get to know others, especially our newer families. Let's get connected and stay connected. 

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"Did you hear about Jake and Ashley? I probably shouldn't be telling you this but . . ."

"Heather told me not to tell anyone this but I know you won't say anything. This is what she said - "

"People have been saying that this is what happened."

"Which people?"

"Well, I don't feel comfortable saying."

I have encountered each of these scenarios multiple times in my life and ministry. Obviously the names in these examples are irrelevant. It's the message they convey that is important. One of the most destructive forces in the church is this kind of loose talk. This is why one of my core ministry convictions is that:

Loose talk and gossip offends the heart of God and hurts others so we must always go to the source for confirmation rather than listen to rumors.

It is tempting to share insider information or to feel like we have extra insight on a situation. If we start a conversation with, "I probably shouldn't say anything" then the conversation should end right there. We can make ourselves feel more significant when we use the term, "people have been saying" when in reality it was one, maybe two individuals. Making it sound like it was a large group lends credibility to what we are saying. Often, the things that get shared among church goers aren't the kinds of things that could change the world. They are seemingly innocent, meaningless trifles of information. But the information isn't the issue. It is the trust that is broken when things spoken in confidence are revealed. Or the trust that is broken when someone realizes conversations about them are being held behind their back. These are the moments when the church, God's people should be markedly different from the rest of the world.

Years ago, the "water cooler" was the euphemism for the place in offices where gossip was shared. Today there really is no central place because so much of this happens via social media and cell phone connections. But it IS happening. You may have seen it in your own work place, neighborhood, school or extended family.

What if the church was the place where this type of loose talk and gossip never happened? What if when someone started a conversation with "I probably shouldn't tell you this" you said, "then please don't". Or what if after hearing information about someone you went directly to that person to verify what you heard instead of passing it along? What if the next time someone told you something about another person you asked in response, "Can I go talk to them about this?" Chances are the person sharing the info will start backpedaling.

That sounds intimidating and it may seem like you're being unkind to the person who told you that information. But isn't it more unkind to pass the information along or believe something you hear without verifying it? Ephesians 4:29 says " Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." We are to be "grace talkers". Gossip finds its way onto at least 3 lists of sinful behavior in the New Testament, lumped in with behaviors such as coveting, strife, murder and jealousy! In other words, gossip and sharing a bad report about someone is not looked on favorably.

If we know Jesus and follow him, our goal should be building others up with words and giving grace. What do your words do? And can we agree to not gossip or deal in rumors and speculation? I believe that will honor God and bless others. 

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The last few weeks have been focused on core convictions. I've been reviewing my core convictions related to the church and ministry. This weeks conviction is: Leaders in the church must be teachable, humble servants and loyal to the church and the leaders God has put in place. This seems like a no-brainer. Of course leaders in the church should be teachable, humble and loyal servants. And you would be right to assume such thing. The reality is often much different. There are power hungry deacons and elders in churches around the world. Worship leaders with an agenda. Kids ministry leaders with a my-way-or-the-highway attitude. Pastors who never admit they are wrong.

These types of leaders inhabit churches everywhere. Some people think talent is enough. Or competence is enough to overcome these negative qualities. Having been in leadership long enough I have learned the hard way that talent and competence are not enough to compensate for a lack of humble, loyal servant hood.

A teachable leader listens. An unteachable leader talks and defends him or herself at every opportunity. A teachable leader evaluates his or her actions and looks for ways to improve. An unteachable leader doesn't feel the need to evaluate. They are satisfied with where they are. Leaders MUST be teachable because a leader who is not growing and improving can't help others grow and improve. A good indicator of whether or not someone is teachable is when someone suggests an improvement or new strategy to a leader. How do they respond? Do they get offended and upset or do they honestly receive the feedback and process it? The suggestion might be frivolous but a teachable leader will respect the suggestion enough to think it over. Teachable leaders know they have growing to do.

A humble leader tries decrease so that Jesus can increase. A humble leader recognizes their gifts and abilities and uses them but also realizes where those abilities came from. They don't toot their own horn, they give credit where it is due and they accept responsibility for when things go wrong. A lack of humility leads to shifting the blame, taking the credit and putting oneself in the best seat. Humble leaders are team players.

A humble, teachable leader is a servant. This is the leader you don't have to ask to help. They are already there leading the way as a servant. And when they do serve, you never hear about it except maybe from others. A servant serves - without recognition or applause. They do it not because they have to but because they  want to and love for Jesus compels them. A leader who is not a servant can be spotted easily. They conveniently find a way to be busy somewhere else when it's time for the heavy lifting or they like to tell others what to do while they take a "supervisory" role. Servants serve. They get their hands dirty and they do it alongside the people they are leading.

A leader is loyal to other leaders and the people who are over them in the Lord. This does not mean they must always agree with the pastor and/or the elders or other leaders in the church. Loyalty is not always being a "yes-man or woman" or always just going along to get along. Loyalty means if there is a disagreement or a concern then that leader brings it to the ones over them in the Lord or the person they disagree with. It means that they are the first to seek reconciliation if it is needed. Loyalty means that they do not look for agreement and buy-in from others for their "cause" or mount a campaign against other leaders. Loyalty means seeking unity and harmony first.

Leaders in the church, no matter what ministry they serve, must display these characteristics.

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No one sets out in life to be mediocre or at worst be unsuccessful. All of us want to BE something, to achieve something, to feel like our efforts have resulted in something significant. We want to be successful. Ask 10 people what success looks like in their life and you will likely get 10 different answers. For each person it depends on what they want to do. Ask a plumber what success means for them and you will get a different response than if you ask an insurance agent. For the plumber success might mean receiving 5 calls a day, consistently, while for the insurance agent it may mean signing one new client a week. And it's not just our occupations. For example, what does it mean to be a successful parent? Grandparent? School or church volunteer? For many areas of life, just showing up is not enough. There are standards that spell success in that area.

What is success? How do we know when we're being successful in life or in our job or with our families? 

I've been writing about my core convictions over the last month. This question of success in life has come up as I've thought about my occupation and calling. One of my core convictions answers this question for me. Here it is:

Obedience and faithfulness of the leader are the best measures of ministry success - not approval, popularity or high attendance.

As I've considered what success in ministry looks like I've determined that obeying God and being faithful to Him and my call will carry me through difficulties in a way other standards will not. If I am unsure whether or not I am succeeding in my ministry I have only to ask two questions:

1. Am I listening to God, doing exactly what He is leading me to do? Obedience. And, 2. Am I doing God's work to the best of my ability, with 100% effort? Faithfulness.

In ministry I can do everything humanly possible to enhance the church, try to make it grow and gain followers or popularity but ultimately God is the one who makes things grow. The Apostle Paul acknowledged this when he said that some plant, some water but God makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)

Some people want to measure success by whether or not they are liked. "If everyone is happy with me I'll feel good about what I'm doing." With people being fickle and changing their feelings as frequently as Michigan weather, this is not a good standard to go by. One day the crowd loves you and the next day they want to crucify you. Some think popularity is a good standard for success but there is always the next big or bigger thing coming along behind you. God doesn't care how many followers you have or how popular you are. After all, our job is to make Him famous, not us. Some think high attendance is the mark of a successful ministry. Yet, Jesus sent crowds of people away, at times having just his disciples with him. He could have drawn bigger crowds than anyone in history but he chose to pour into the 12 disciples. For Jesus, obedience to the Father and faithfulness to his mission were more important than drawing a big crowd.

This core conviction drives my life and the way I lead The Road. How can a commitment to obedience and faithfulness impact the way you view success in your life?

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I’ve been writing about my core convictions – the things that drive my actions, both in ministry and in my relationships. My third core conviction is: The people of the world are spiritually lost and their only hope is Jesus.

                This is an unpopular conviction to hold. It suggests that people everywhere, no matter how beautiful, brilliant, talented or famous, all share a trait – being lost. The Bible is clear that ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s righteous standard. Not only have they fallen short, they are unable on their own to meet that standard no matter how many different paths they try. To be lost is to be unable to find one’s way. That’s our world. People everywhere are trying to make their way to peace, prosperity, safety and freedom but the things they chase after are the very things that deprive them of peace, freedom etc. No one wants to admit to being lost.

It’s the classic scene – Dad is driving the family someplace on their vacation and suggests a shortcut. Soon he is hopelessly turned around on back roads somewhere, unable to get back on track but unwilling to admit to being lost. Asking for directions is not an option. Smart, talented people don’t ask for directions. They know best. This is an apt description of our world. Spiritually, people are all over the map. If it’s not working for some man-made deity then it’s searching within oneself for strength and all the answers to life and success. Or it’s the godless religion of reason and science.

The second part of this conviction is even less popular – the hope of the world is Jesus. The idea that a 1st century Jewish man who taught people with fishing metaphors could be the Savior of mankind is laughable to cultural elites. “Put my faith in a man I’ve never met who did things I can’t verify, in a place I’ve never been, to purchase a forgiveness I don’t even need? Forget it!” But this sums up the essence of faith. We are trusting that God could accurately convey a life changing message over thousands of years through fallible men and women. The apostle Paul suggested that the message of the cross was foolishness to the world even though it was the wisdom of God. I don’t have space to go into all the reasons we can trust the Bible when it tells us who Jesus is or all the reasons we can believe in the existence of God. What I do have space to do is say that this conviction, though highly unpopular, is a life-driving conviction.

It means that every person I encounter is either lost or found. Every person is either a follower of Jesus or not. If they are lost, I have a responsibility to point them toward Jesus – to proclaim the message that He is their only hope. Convictions are valueless if they are not lived out. It does no good to say I believe something if I’m not willing to act on it. What about you? Could someone figure out your core convictions by looking at your life? And would they match what you say they are?

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I began asking last week if you knew your core convictions. What are the beliefs that drive your decisions even when those beliefs are not at the forefront of your conscious thought? What are the default truths that are your bedrock? One of mine is "The Bible is God's word to us and is true, relevant and meant to be understood and obeyed."

I have studied the Bible, it's origin, compilation and preservation and have come to the above conclusion. It is God's Word. Because of this belief I live my life a certain way. I don't believe the answers to life are found "within me" or that I can tap into some greater consciousness for insight. The answers are found in God's Word. I have yet to see the proof that God's word is a lie. Every historical footnote, every archaeological location, every date and every name has proven to be accurate. This is why, in spite of what science may claim, I believe God spoke the world into existence. He did not wind it up and let it evolve. This is why I believe, in spite of the mocking of modern men, that God did in fact flood the earth, saving only Noah and his family.

The Bible is not only God's actual, true words to us, it is relevant. The Bible speaks today. Even in a world of depravity, strange behaviors and stranger beliefs, the Bible addresses these things. Not directly by name but by principle. For example, the worls is insisting that gender is fluid notion and that we must look beyond simple male and female categories. The Bible declares this to be complete nonsense as it states from the very beginning that God created mankind in the image of God, male and female he created them. God established sexual identity at creation and he has not changed it. What about the battle in our nation over immigration? The Bible speaks to this as well and I believe strikes a balance between caring for the poor and the refugee and also abiding by the laws of the land. I don't have the space to flesh this out but there are Biblical principles to guide us in this discussion. 

The Bible is also meant to be understood. God did not write his words so that we would have to unlock a special code to read it. He wanted it to be understood and obeyed. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible at 176 verses is an ode to God's word and to the joy it brings when we obey it. It is not a book to be looked at, carried or displayed. It was meant to be lived out. So when I read the Bible, I am always asking, what does God want to tell me today?

This core conviction impacts almost every day of my life. If the Bible is actually God's Word, it's true and relevant and meant to be understood and obeyed, it WILL change the way you live. Next, article - core conviction #3. 

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What are your core convictions? What are the truths you cling to no matter what the situation? Everyone has core convictions but have maybe never actually written them out and looked at them all at once. What are core convictions? A core conviction is a value you hold that makes you who you are - a belief that defines you. For example, if you hold as a core conviction that every human being has value, you will treat people accordingly. People will see how you treat others and it will become a part of who you are and what people acknowledge about you.

In the same way, you can say that you hold a certain core conviction but if your life doesn't show it, everyone, including you (if you're honest), will have to admit that you don't actually believe what you are saying. For example, I might say that I believe wholeheartedly in the church and in the family of God but if I attend church only one out of every six weeks I am clearly not living out my core convictions.

What is the value of having core convictions? They are foundational to who you are. They are like guideposts along the journey of life. All of us encounter situations that cause discomfort or confusion. We are tempted to violate something we know to be true for the sake of peace or because we are afraid to admit our real feelings. For example, as a parent, one of your core convictions might be that you will protect your family at all costs. And then one day you are with your extended family and your father says something insensitive and rude to one of your children causing them to cry. Your core conviction is now butting heads with your desire to have a good relationship with your extended family and not cause family drama when you're together. If that core conviction is good and right (and in this case I think it is) you will respond accordingly. You will protect your family even if the attack comes from someone you love.

So, what are your core convictions? One of mine is 

True Christians seek to align their hearts and lives with God and his Word. Evidence of true Christianity is seen in words, behavior and spiritual fruit.

I believe the above statement with all my heart. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you will want your heart and life to align with God. There are only a few ways to give evidence that you are a follower of Jesus. The words you say, the actions you take and the spiritual fruit you exhibit. There are many who claim to be Christians but they lack the evidence. They aren't concerned with whether or not their hearts and lives line up with God and his Word. Over the next few weeks I will share with you some of my core convictions and how they impact my life, my family and the church. Perhaps as you read them you will be able to discern what are your core convictions. 

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If you were at the Road this past Sunday you heard me share a vision of what God can do through and in our church over the next 10 years. God has been stirring the hearts of our leaders for several months now and it is time to take a giant leap of faith.

We stand at year 9 in the Fenton campus and Howell has been in existence for 15 years, (7.5 as the Faith Journey and 7.5 as the Road) One of my dreams for the last 9 years has been that we become a church of kingdom impact. By impact I mean that we are seeing people believe in Jesus and be baptized; that we see lives being transformed by the Gospel. I’m okay with a small church as long as it’s delivering a big impact. I feel like we have done well in bringing high impact to our communities. I feel we've done outreach well, that we have loved each other well. God has blessed us with tools for ministry.

But we have had some ups and downs. People have come and gone. In some ways we’ve slowed our pursuit of kingdom impact, still chasing it but not as aggressively. And we’ve aged as a church. What I mean is that churches have a life cycle. Churches are birthed, they have a building phase and after a few years they stabilize. Once they are stable they can either plateau or find a way to move forward and upward in having kingdom impact. If a church gets comfortable in the plateau they could end up declining. Once a church goes into decline it is hard to pull up from the nosedive. We are plateaued at the moment. But we have an opportunity to change our trajectory. I have a bigger dream for the Road than where we are right now. 

Our #1 priority, top goal and primary objective is building the kingdom -sharing gospel with anyone and everyone we can. One of the best and proven ways to reach people with the Gospel is to plant churches. The Road is a church plant. Everyone reading this right now might not be tied to a church, know Jesus or be serving in anyway were it not for God planting a church in Howell and Fenton.

As a church, we will plant a daughter church within 3 years. 

Another way we can live out Jesus' kingdom objectives is to become compliant with the township by putting in a parking lot so we can have a facility to work out of. Along with a parking lot are other facility improvements in both Howell AND Fenton so that we can better reach our community with the Gospel.

I am dreaming of both campuses bursting at the seams as we top 100 in attendance within the next 3 years

I am dreaming of baptizing more than 10 people each year

I am dreaming of renovations at both campuses to accommodate the additional children and babies in our nursery, kids quest and youth ministries

I am dreaming of raising up multiple leaders capable of leading a church

This vision goes beyond the next 3 years. It is the vision for our church for the next couple decades. Kingdom growth and multiplication.

BUT . . . this will take money...….(FREE WILL Giving/sacrifice)

this will take a lot of prayer...…….

this will take a lot of dependency on God...…..

this will require everyone to contribute in some way.

These are big dreams. I know planting a church sounds a little out of reach. But there is never a right time to have a baby. You’re never really ready nor do you ever really have the money. And as a church we are never going to be more ready than we are now. I want the Road to reach people and push back the darkness in this world. One of the best ways to do that is to plant churches even though I don’t know what that looks like for us yet.

This summer the elders will be working on not just the what of these dreams but the how. And we are excited to share those things with you as soon we can.

Thanks for reading. Now the work begins - PRAY!

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Kids need dads. Studies done recently are confirming what should be pretty obvious to everyone - kids do better when there are two involved parents in the home. This is not to say that a single parent can't raise kids. They can. But the studies show some differences. For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children of highly involved fathers were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly A's and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade. Another study of children with one parent versus two found that as young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being.

These studies are not saying fathers are the better parents and they are not diminishing the role of mothers in any way. I'm sure studies have been done showing the necessity and benefit of having an involved mother. The point is that kids need dads and if there is no dad they need a man in their life who is acting like a dad. A dad fills an important role in a child's life. While not each thing listed below is true of every Dad they are generally true of most.

Dads play with their kids differently than moms do, generally speaking. Dads are more likely to wrestle, tickle and throw their kids around in a fun way. This teaches kids to control themselves and their emotions.

Dads are more likely to encourage their kids to take risks and attempt things that might be seen as dangerous. I'm not saying Dads put their kids in danger. They are just more likely to encourage their kid to step out and do something scary or challenging.

While moms have a 'mama bear' mentality about their kids, involved dads seem to be very effective at keeping harmful people and predators away from their kids.  Psychologist Rob Palkovitz said in The Atlantic, "Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls." Interesting.

And when it comes to discipline, moms tend to discipline more frequently but dads tend to discipline more firmly.

There's good news for dads. You don't have to be perfect to be a dad. That title is reserved for only one Father. But Dads, you do need to be present and involved. Our job as dads is to live and parent in such a way that our kids see their heavenly Father represented in us. That, although we are imperfect, we are trying to reflect the best Father in our words and actions.The 'God as Father' imagery is tough for people who didn't have a good dad. We can help with that. A Christian song from a few years back sang the chorus,

"Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me"

 Men, let's make it our prayer that we act like Jesus. Our kids are watching. They need us. Let's be a good example for them.

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