Kingdom Living

Casting Vision for the Future of the Kingdom

Kingdom Living

Five Reasons Young People Are Quitting Church

January 6th, 2021 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

1 – They don’t have a voice. In every other area of their life they are used to having a platform and a voice. From Instagram to Tik Tok they can post things and get affirmation. Not so much in the church. Their voices are not typically valued on the same level as others and they notice. It is important to ask young people what they think about what happens at church and if any of them should ever come with ideas count that as a blessing and make sure they feel heard.

2 – Culture has shifted. Culture used to value older people and experience. Today the culture values youth. I am not saying churches should compromise. I am saying be smart in considering how to value everyone.

3 – Youth ministry. We created an age segregated group that isolated them away from the relationships they would need upon graduation. When teens graduate they have to leap into the larger congregation and if the relationships don’t exist long before, don’t expect many people to successfully make the jump. We put all the burden on them in building that bridge and they just aren’t going to do it nor should they be expected to. Try to get to know them. Youth ministry isn’t a bad thing…it just became the end all for faith development for teens and that just won’t work. That leads to the next one.

4 – Parents checked out of the faith formation of their children. The youth ministry is supposed to do that but that isn’t fair to the youth minister. We need to disciple our own kids and then see youth ministry as a supplement to at home training.

5 – Hypocrisy. When parents expect things of their kids they won’t do themselves the kids will reject it.

Bonus – our gospel has been too small, just not robust. By not robust I mean not as comprehensive as the biblical gospel. We said the gospel is about getting to heaven when you die. What does that mean to you when you are 19 and think you are invincible? But the biblical gospel is more robust and comprehensive than that…the kingdom has tangible and significant meaning and impact TODAY!

We effectively planted two churches under the roof of any congregation that has a viable youth ministry instead of creating a community of intergenerational connection that would be mutually beneficial to all.

For more thoughts on this check out our video at Wineskins YouTube…if you don’t know about the channel we are pouring a lot of resources into making it helpful and are up to 300 video resources there!

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40 Days of Prayer Begins Tomorrow

January 2nd, 2021 · No Comments · Prayer

Backyard Church’s 40 days of prayer begins tomorrow! You are welcome to pray right along with us. Here is a link to the daily prayer guide that will give you a list of 10 topics (4 specific prayers per topic) and a daily scripture to go along with it!

Feel free to download the guide, use it, share it, etc. We have a group of Chinese Christians here in Auburn using it along with us!

We are also doing a daily video from various people! This will be a daily 3-5 minute thought on prayer to encourage you each of the 40 days. You can view that on the BYC YouTube channel, facebook page or our website.

Prayer guide

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/backyardchurchofauburn

Website – https://www.backyardchurch.org

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC89QHv4ZRnoIZQjPNNSB1pA

Looking forward to praying alongside you!

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40 Days of Prayer To Start 2021

December 30th, 2020 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Download the PDF of this content here. We are starting our 40 days of prayer this Sunday – January 3rd but you are welcome to start it anytime you like!

Prayer has been a core activity of the people of God since the beginning. Before we understand how to pray we need to know why we pray.

We pray because God is a personal God and He seeks relationship with us. Prayer is our end of a conversation with God. Prayer addresses God as someone we are in a real relationship with. We pray to God because God created us, loves us, and is listening for our prayers.

A Christian is someone who follows Jesus and part of following Jesus is having Jesus as our role model in all areas of life. One of the things we see in Jesus’ life is consistent prayer. This may seem odd because Jesus is God in the flesh and it seems odd for God to speak to himself in prayer, but Jesus modeled for us his deep need for connection with God the Father. If Jesus needs that then we certainly do as well! Jesus prayed constantly. There are many times in scripture Jesus escaped the crowd to find a solitary place where he could pray to his heavenly father (Luke 5:16). If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray so do we. To be “Jesus people” we must be people of prayer.

This prayer guide will usher us into a forty-day period of prayer together. In these forty days we will be praying over the same things and meditating on the same scriptures each day. Why are we doing this? Because we feel a profound since of dependence on God to guide us in all we do. We can’t rely on our own abilities or wisdom if we are going to move into a vibrant future together. Instead, we humbly submit ourselves to God, in prayer, on a daily basis to seek God’s guidance and blessing in all that we do.

Forty is an important number in the Bible. Moses spent forty years in the same wilderness God would later have him lead Israel through. Moses later spent forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness where he fasted and was tested by the devil. Forty isn’t a magical number but it is a meaningful number. Forty days, as in these biblical stories, remind us to rely on God in all things. The forty days are divided into ten of specific things to pray about. This puts us in line with Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to “pray continually.” We hope that these forty days of praying together will be part of a movement that is constantly in prayer together.

Praying alone is fine but if you are able, find someone to pray with. Pray about these things together and then share your thoughts with each other on the things you are praying about. As we pray together we will find that as we draw near to God we will also draw near to each other. So let’s begin with Day 1 .

Section 1 (Jan 1-4): Prayers for direction and guidance

Day 1: Pray for God to guide our vision and direction. (Isaiah 58:6-12)
Day 2: Pray for God to open our eyes to see the harvest. (Matt 9:27)
Day 3: Pray God would guide each step and decision the church makes. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Day 4: Prayer for clarity of purpose and focus. (Isaiah 30:21)

Section 2 (Jan 5-8): Prayers for humility and submission

Day 5: Pray God would humble us and remove our pride. (Prov 16:18)
Day 6: Pray for us to discipline our hearts to be totally dependent on God. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Day 7: Pray for us to be mutually submissive toward each other. (Eph 5:21)
Day 8: Pray for us to follow God’s lead rather than human “wisdom.” (Prov 3:5-6)

Section 3 (Jan 9-12): Prayers for fellow Christians

Day 9: Pray for our marriages and children. (Eph 5:22-6:4)
Day 10: Pray for Christians around the world. (2 Thess 1:3)
Day 11: Pray for the elderly, the widows and widowers. (John 15:12-17)
Day 12: Pray for church leaders – elders, ministers, and missionaries. (Rom 15:30-33)

Section 4 (Jan 13-16): Prayers for non-believers (John 17:20-23)

Day 13: Pray for co-workers and class mates. (Mark 12:31)
Day 14: Pray for opportunities to connect with them. (Matt 9:35-38)
Day 15: Pray for those with open hearts and seekers. (Acts 16:14)
Day 16: Pray for boldness that we can reach them with the Gospel. (Acts 28:31)

Section 5 (Jan 17-20): Prayers for God to empower and equip us

Day 17: Pray for God to help us identity our gifts and use them for the kingdom. (Eph 4:11-16)
Day 18: Pray for God to empower our ministries. (Acts 4:24-31)
Day 19: Pray for God to raise up leaders for the future. (2 Tim 2:2)
Day 20: Prayer that God would equip and empower us. (1 Thess 1:5)

Section 6 (Jan 21-24): Prayers for God to convict and convince us

Day 21: Pray that we would be convicted about what is right and wrong. (John 16:13)
Day 22: Pray that God would convict us about righteousness, holy living, and our sin. (John 16:8)
Day 23: Pray that God would convict us about our mission and purpose. (Eph 2:10)
Day 24: Pray that God would convince us of His will. (1 Thess 1:4-10)

Section 7 (Jan 25-28): Prayers for spiritual healing

Day 25: Pray for release from our deepest shame. (Rom 5:5)
Day 26: Pray for strength to endure temptation. (1 Cor 10:13)
Day 27: Pray for spiritual transformation in our lives. (Rom 12:1-2)
Day 28: Pray for healing, peace, and wholeness for each person in the
church. (John 14:27)

Section 8 (Jan 29-Feb 1): Prayers for physical healing

Day 29: Pray for those who are sick by name. (James 5:14-16)
Day 30: Pray for the end of COVID. (Psalm 91:1-8)
Day 31: Pray for God to use us to be people who bring healing to the community. (Matt 5:13-16)
Day 32: Pray for those workers who care for our sick for God to strengthen and use them. (Psalm 18:32)

Section 9 (Feb 2-5): Prayers for our love to grow

Day 33: Pray our love for the lost will grow. (Matt 28:19-20)
Day 34: Pray our love for one another will grow. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Day 35: Pray our love for our enemies will grow. (Matt 5:43-48)
Day 36: Pray our love for who we find most difficult to love will grow. (Luke 6:27-36)

Section 10 (Feb 6-9): Prayers for boldness (Acts 4:23-31)

Day 37: Pray we will speak of Jesus with boldness. (2 Cor 3:12)
Day 38: Pray for us to live boldly for the gospel in the world. (Acts 14:3)
Day 39: Pray for God to release us of our hesitancy and timidity. (2 Tim 1:7)
Day 40: Pray for the bold message we live and speak to be clear to those who hear and see it. (Acts 9:28)

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What is the Most Difficult Verse in the Bible?

December 27th, 2020 · No Comments · Uncategorized

There are verses that you read that you just don’t know what to do with. It isn’t that the verse doesn’t make sense…it is that you know just how difficult a demand the verse places on your life.

The answer to the question in the title will be different for each one of us. For the rich young ruler it was Jesus telling him to sell everything and give to the poor and then come follow Jesus. If he had wrestled with the idol of relationships, maybe Jesus would have asked him to address that (like in Matthew 8:21 or 19:29).

One of the more difficult verses is found in Philippians 2:1-4 where Paul wrote this,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

How does one do that, exactly? I can attempt to do this but it is very difficult to actually pull it off 100%!

Another difficult passage is found in 1 Peter 1:13-16 where Peter wrote this,

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

How can we be holy as God or Jesus are holy? Well, we cannot in and of ourselves. That requires a bit of assistance!

Or, maybe like that rich man mentioned above (found in John 18) we struggle with wealth or possessions. That teaching ended with a very important verse that we all need to keep in mind when discussing difficult verses and that is John 18:26-27,

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

That is reassuring! There are verses that are impossible for us to fully comply with. We need help! We can’t make it on our own. To quote Paul from 2 Corinthians 12:9 God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

There are some extremely difficult verses in the Bible – difficult for us. But none of this is difficult for God! And God is willing to help us in our inability to accomplish for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves!

Praise God for His unfailing love and infinite mercy!

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Do You Get Anxious Over Big Decisions – This Is For You!

December 14th, 2020 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

We can put ourselves under tremendous amounts of pressure in life in trying to “stick the landing” in decision making. The pressure can make us sick…overwhelmed…even paralyzed.

The logic goes like this – God already knows what is best. God knows the right decision and where each decision will take us. So if we are faced with three options, there is only one best answer and we need to pray and determine what that one thing is and do only that.

What if I told you that was oftentimes the wrong way to think about how you make decisions? What if God was waiting to bless whatever decision you decided, through prayerful consideration, was the right decision for your life?

Would that change anything?

To be clear I am not talking about moral vs immoral options. That is clear what God wants. I am talking about life decisions – like having three jobs to choose from and getting all anxious because you might mess it up.

What if you prayed about it….picked what seemed most God-honoring…and went on with your life…and what if God blessed your decision and honored you in making it?

For many of us, it would mean much less worry centered on big decisions and much more enjoyment in what we decide.

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Spiritual Maturity and Emotional Maturity Are Connected

December 11th, 2020 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Emotional health and maturity and spiritual health and maturity are inextricably linked. It is difficult, if not impossible to be a spiritually healthy person if you are not an emotionally healthy/mature person.

The emotionally mature are stable enough for spiritual formation to take place. They have a robust sense of who they are to be challenged without jumping ship. The emotionally healthy person can withstand the anxiety that is often necessary to grow spiritually.

The emotionally immature person, on the other hand, is going to resist everything it takes for them to grow spiritually. Understanding this can allow us to have motivation to endure times of trial and difficulty without jumping ship or being avoidant of the person, place or thing that causes us so much trouble because we know the very thing we don’t want might be best for us.

If you find yourself running from trouble, you also may find yourself stunted in your spiritual growth.

Take a deep breath and know that those things that are causing you so much worry might actually be the best things for you. You can’t always resolve the issue. Sometimes you just have to learn to be okay with it and allow that tension to grow your faith.

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COVID Has Removed Major Barriers to the House Church Movement

December 8th, 2020 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

When I would talk with people about the feasibility of house churches the response I would get is that they rarely get off the ground well. It can be hard to raise support for these movements. The resources are often kept very close to the traditional paradigm of the brick and mortar. There are a number of reasons house churches struggle. One of those is permanence. People like to invest their time and resources into something that has a sense of permanence. A building provides that. Typically, it is much more difficult for an established church with property to not be here next year than a house church. Dissolving the first is a lot more difficult and less likely than the second.

Enter COVID.

God is opening doors for new approaches to church that I thought either may never open or might take a decade or more to see open. God opened them in 8 months via COVID.

COVID sent most of us home for church. People adjusted to the idea that church at home was still church. Those of us who have preached through that time starting back in March had to figure out how to let people know that staying home was the right thing to do and God was/is still pleased by that…that they were not forsaking the assembly by doing church at home.

People’s mindset toward what church actually is has shifted significantly and that is going to help us have the freedom of leaving old paradigms and traditions in order to move forward.

Second is content. People who meet at home don’t always have a seminary trained teacher present to deliver the lessons. The less people you have the less likely you are to have a skilled teacher. Two things on that – first, maybe we will finally realize we had too high a bar for who gets to do that and had professionalized ministry far too much. Second, COVID sent all the preachers online where the quality and quantity of resources has expanded exponentially over the last 8 months. Now you can get the very best preachers and teachers in your living room for free with no overhead cost of hiring them. These movements need strong biblical roots so they don’t drift off into meaninglessness…which is what will happen if people aren’t intentional.

There are a few other things that will have to fall into place to make house churches more sustainable than they have often been in the past and I believe God is helping us turn that corner. We are working on developing some of those things in order to see movements that can change the landscape of Western Christianity for generations.

These are things like leader training – house churches often flounder because people don’t know how to lead well. We are going to develop leader training that is free online for people who want to learn how to start and maintain a house church.

Then there is the need for a network. When you leave institutional church you feel like you lose your people, your tribe…your extended network and that is a very important thing to have. You don’t want to be on an island. We need to establish networks where people who are going through these church transitions can connect, talk, share resources, be encouraged, and know they are not alone. We are going to develop networks for these conversations.

Last, are simple and reproducible approaches. We often make things far too complex to be reproduced. The good news here is that these have already been developed and are ready to be implemented by people who want to jump in.

There is still a lot of work to do but I believe God is opening doors to simpler approaches that just didn’t work well in most cases even 12 months ago…and this is all very exciting to me. I hope it is to you as well.

Sometimes seeds have to fall to the ground and die so new life can spring forth!

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There is Glory in the Waiting – Why God Rarely Tells us the “When”

November 29th, 2020 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

As I was reflecting on the start of Advent and the anticipation of awaiting the coming Messiah it occurred to me that in both Jesus’ first coming and His second God gave the people the what (Messiah is coming) and the where (Bethlehem) but rarely the when.

When the magi spoke with Herod that they were searching for the new born king of the Jews, Herod finally had the “when” and sent his expert scholars in search of the where. They found their answer in Micah 5 – Bethlehem in Judea.

The same is true of Jesus’ second coming. He will come on the clouds. There will be a great trumpet call. The dead will rise, etc…but we just don’t know when.

Why doesn’t God tell us when certain things will happen? Because God knows our nature. He knows we will not get serious until it is time. Faith is strengthened in the waiting. Hope is magnified in the patient person anticipating the certain outcome of God making good on His promises.

God rarely tells us when…and that is for our own good!

How would you live your life if you knew the time when you would die in advance? It is in the anticipation and the waiting that the love and the hope and the faith all grow into maturity.

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Why I Left Legalism

November 23rd, 2020 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

The more I reflected on my spiritual journey the more I have realized that my legalism wasn’t rooted in the conservative nature of the churches I grew up in. I was more of a legalist than the preachers I grew up hearing. My legalism grew out of my own desire for assurance and certainty. This is natural when you are a child. You don’t know who you are and you have no way to assure your own survival (you can’t work and earn a living…you are at the mercy of adults). So you grasp for certainty and assurance and few things have the allure of this more than legalism.

Healing from legalism requires exploration and relationship. Once you meet the guys from the “other team” you begin to realize you are more on the same team than you realize. I found out that some of the Baptists I met loved God more than I did…it drove me back into the scriptures to see if what I believed was true. When I did this…not just to confirm my view but to affirm what the Bible actually teaches I began to find holes in my view that I could have never seen otherwise. I encountered people who had more fruit of the Spirit than I did.

As I have reflected on some of these things I decided to put my story down on video in case it is helpful to others. I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to still be around…many never made the journey but fell off on the wayside. Thank you God for your patience and for never letting me go!

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What if Knowledge Wasn’t Enough?

November 18th, 2020 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I love to study. Reading and retaining information is my sweet spot. I believe God wants us to be in His word. I believe He wants us to seek out the truth from what He has revealed to us.

To what end?

It cannot be truth for truth’s sake or knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3,

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Study leads to knowledge but again, to what end…

Knowledge of the truth drives us to love. If your study makes you less loving then you are missing the point! May your study drive you to a deeper and deeper love of God and neighbor!

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