Friday, March 30, 2007

My Wife Can Outrun Your Wife

. . . and me and most of the boys.

Gina is walking around the house very nervous. She is getting siked out. Today, Gina will run in her first track meet (at UNC Chapel Hill) in 9 years and first Steeplechase in 12 years.

She is a former 2 time USA Track and Field national champion in the Womens 2000m Steeplechase. She also ran for the UT Lady Vols ('86-'90 ouch) and made the NCAA Div1 All-American team in the 4x800. She is (not just was) fast. I am so proud of her getting back into it. She loves racing and I know that she will do awesome tonight. If you google her to see what pops up try Gina Wilbanks for her old accomplishments; Gina Witcher for the new.

GO BABY!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Remarkable

I found this great post by Joshua Cody over at the CMS blog this morning:

I was watching a talk delivered by Seth Godin at Google, and he said something that was profoundly self evident.

"[Remarkable] doesn't mean beautiful or ideal or perfect. It only means one thing: Worth making a remark about."

Fundamentally, Christianity is viral. Aside from some extraordinary conversion experiences, it's Jesus Christ doing something that was worth talking about. Then His disciples were exposed to Him, and they did things worth talking about.

Is your church presenting Christ in a remarkable way? You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to be ideal. You don't have to be beautiful. But are you doing things that get the community talking? The world? Or are you just running aimlessly or yelling upwards into the sky?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Power of Respect

Check out this story about Youth Violence in Paris.

Clashes erupt at Paris' Gare du Nord

These youth are angry and refuse to respect the authorities. Why does anyone refuse respect to authorities? Because they feel they're being dissed and ignored. They are saying you can't control me. Do you suppose they looted the stores because they were hungry or needed clothes? They are trying to get attention.

When we were on the streets in Paris this past October, we would start conversations with young people and tell them that we wanted to start a new church for their generation, speaking their language and talking about the issues they are dealing with. Everyone we talked to said they would like to come to our church. Why do you think they were so responsive? We let them know that their generation was important with all its uniquenesses. We told them that the church needed something new, for them. I think all they really heard was that we weren't trying to change them into their image of church people.

We can reach these people. Jesus primary ministry was to those who felt disenfranchised. We will show them a relationship (us with them and them with others and them with God), we will show them hope for the future, and we will show them their significance in life. Without Christ these things are meaningless. With Christ there is new life.

Would you join us?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rob Ketterling and RVC

While I was in Minneapolis, I had the opportunity to visit River Valley Church, pastored by Rob Ketterling. Wow! What an awesome church. They hit the ball out of the park this morning.

They have awesome facilities and great volunteers. I just felt really welcome this morning. Their worship was fantastic. They had a big worship team /choir on stage. Not the old school style. It was an awesome fit. If you had your eyes open, you just couldn't help but see passionate heartfelt worship on the faces of every person on stage. You just can't script that stuff. And Rob had a great message about about sharing our faith from Col 4:2-6. I have read it many times but never really realized how clearly is talks about living out our faith. Check out the podcast for Bumper Stickers Part 4.

I got to spend a little more time talking to him over lunch. Home run on lunch at Enjoy, Rob. RVC has a great missions heart. Rob, personally just got back this week from a trip to Africa. He and his wife went to France last year and he has really developed a love for Paris. They will be partnering with us to start a new church there. How awesome to have churches like RVC on the team.

If you are ever in the twin cities you got to check them out.

I met John Piper

The folks I was staying with in Minneapolis go to John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist. They attend the Saturday night service. I was able to return from the memorial services about 2 hrs away from Minneapolis in time to make the service with them.

They first book I ever read about missions (back in seminary) was "Let the Nations be Glad" by John Piper. How cool to actually visit his church and hear him preach. It is a great church in downtown Minneapolis. They actually have 7 services in 3 different locations. Their church has a tremendous heart for world missions and John Piper has written several books that have been instrumental in the spiritual growth of many believers. It was cool to see such a divers groups of cultures and ages represented there.

Anyway, I met him after the service and told him about our plans to plant a church in Paris. I handed him an Avant Magazine with the France story in it. Who knows, maybe he will read it and get a passions for what we are doing in France.

Make Your Life Count - Sally Brallier

Just before lunch on Friday, I was informed that one of our partners and a lady who had a passion for France and all things French had passed away. I was on a plane a few hours later for Minneapolis, MN for the Memorial services were being held on Saturday morning. Isn't it awesome that I had a NWA voucher that was going to expire in one week. It made a very expensive last minute trip a lot less expensive.

Her name is Sally Brallier. Occasionally I go to a funeral or memorial service and I see a person whose life touched so many people in such a positive way. Sally was that kind of person. It was difficult for me to hold back my tears as I heard stories about her. I want to be remembered that way when people come to my funeral, but I know that will take some work in my life.

I heard people talk about how she loved, and shared and encouraged and taught. I heard a niece talk a for about 10 minutes just listing the one liners that Sally had taught her like always smile, always keep gum in your purse, and your students will respect your discipline if they know that you care about them.

I heard a pastor say that she had a "yes face" as described in one of Swindal's books. I realized that she exemplified so much of the difference between good churches and great churches. She sought to touch lives and was not concerned with being important. Sounds a lot like Jesus. She has some great, grown children who are the product of a parent whose life made a difference.

Her husband Marlin is a lucky man to have his shared life with her. Of course, he is a pretty great guy himself. He must be because she chose him. Marlin asked me to bring some new magazines with the French article to give to those attending the memorial because France was such an important part of Sally's life.

I am so glad I was able to be there to learn more about this special lady.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Purple Cow Marketing

Many of you have heard of the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Read his blog today to hear his story of how he went from unheard of to a well recognized leader in marketing with that book.

He says in the end, "there are two steps that are difficult but not impossible. First, build an audience that wants to hear from you. Second, create something they want to talk about and make it easy for them to do so."

Wow. That's good advice for the church. We don't even have to create anything. Just take away all the junk we have added that has turned our "something" into irrelevance.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Putting a Face on Hope

Hope is crucial to life.

We have said that "when we conclude our lives don't matter, we lose the will to live?" European countries such as France rank among the highest in world suicide rates. But those numbers are still very low compared to the total population of these countries. So what does that indicate about many others who choose to keep breathing in spite of little hope? A recent UN study reported that 1 in 4 French people take some form of anti-depressants or tranquilizers.

Bringing hope for a passionate and more fulfilling life is one of our highest priorities in planting a church in Paris. And by the way, the same focus on hope is the cornerstone of many American churches that are the most effective in reaching those far from God.

This is a picture of preschool children in Paris. We want to create an environment where kids like these will see others with a God given passion for life and want what they see. Kids whose new life will impact others. World Changers.

Why are we most alive when we are pursuing a great dream?

This is our dream.

It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

Will you join us?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hope is essential for life - pt 2

As one of the 3 primary cravings of the soul I want to talk more about HOPE.

I saw the Jehovah's Witnesses coming up the street Saturday morning as we were leaving the house. From a distance we wondered if they were JW's or local seminary students. Would evangelicals have any better success than the JW's? I may be a bit odd but I like talking to Mormons and JWs. I actually learn a lot about my own Faith by questioning them about theirs. I told Gina Saturday that I wish we weren't leaving because I wanted to ask them, not about their theology, but what is it that they have that I should want.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. -1 Peter 3:15

This is the verse we use to talk about personal evangelism. But, somehow we have lost the idea of people asking us about the hope that we have. We like to give our doctrinal view of salvation to anyone who will listen. But, few people are convinced with an academic argument by a stranger. That does not mean that we should not be about the great commission, it just means that we will be most effective if we're "smoking what were selling." We're selling hope for a new life through a relationship with Jesus.

Everyone is looking for real hope for a better, more fulfilling life. If they see that life in us they will listen to us give the reason for that hope. This ought to make us do a little self-reflection.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hope is essential for life

This is another soul craving. McManus calls it Destiny.

Why are we most alive when we are pursuing a great dream?

Why is it that when we conclude our lives don't matter, we lose the will to live?

What soul violence brings people to the place where they lose hope and the will to live? How can we turn that around? How can we give a hopeless person hope?

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Magazine is Here! : )

I just "Hi-Fived" the guy in the brown shorts (he thought it was related to NC State's win over Duke) as he unloaded six cases of Avant Magazines on my porch.

This is the magazine that we have been waiting for since we began interviews in November. I feel like we have a great story to tell but a great writer like Chris can bring it together so much better than I could ever do. Kudos to Chris and Brian, you guys have done and awesome and tireless job.

I pray that this magazine will bring many people to a new interest in joining us to start a life giving church in Paris. We are looking for 100 new people who will commit to give and average of $50/mo to see this happen. Would you Help Us Plant a New Church in Paris?

If you would like a copy of the magazine, please email me at kenandgina@avmi.org.

How You Can Help Plant a Church in Paris

You Can Pray!
If you are not already on our email prayer list please email us at info@catalystfrance.org.

You Can Give Financially!
Did you know that while there are nearly 500 verses in the Bible concerning prayer, there are more 2000 verses on the subject of money and possessions. Jesus talked about money in 16 of 38 parables. Sometimes it is easier to just ask people to pray for our ministry, but all of God's work requires financial support and planting a church in Paris is no exception. God knew that our hearts would be tied to our treasure. That's why we know that when you give to our ministry your are making a kingdom investment.

If you have read our story then you know the urgent need in France. If you have heard us talk about our experiences in France then you know why we believe that this church will reach many young French people. Would you consider making a kingdom investment by committing monthly or annual financial support for the next 5 years to see a life giving church planted in Paris?

Please contact us at info@catalystfrance.org.

Thank you for your Great Commission investment.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Another World Opinion Poll

This poll by the BBC ranks France third in world opinion behind Canada and Japan. Hey, no.s 1 & 3 Speak French. If all roads don't lead to Paris they certainly go though it on the way.
read more...

The Blessed Life



This book is the best book I have ever read on the issue of giving and stewardship. And I've read a few. Our church is going through it right now for the second time in a about 4 or 5 years. I have heard so many great testimonies about about how the principles in this book have changed lives. I also know that sometimes these books can turn people off rather than turn them on to God's plan for giving. I have not heard any complaints about this book or the teaching that accompanies it. I strongly recommend it and I plan to use it in the future in group settings.

Monday, March 05, 2007

All Roads Lead to Paris

People often ask us why we are planting a new church in Paris. There is this idea that France is already a Christian country, and even if it is not, who cares.

Well, first of all, God cares! Second, it seems that the rest of the world cares about what is going on in France.

A public opinion poll across 23 countries finds that in 20, a majority (17) or a plurality (3) of citizens think it would be mainly positive for Europe to become more influential than the US in world affairs. Currently, Europe is seen as having a mainly positive influence in the world in 22 countries. Among specific major countries, the one most widely viewed as having a positive influence is France—viewed positively in 20 countries. The countries most widely viewed as having a negative influence are the US (viewed negatively in 15 countries) and Russia (14 countries). (read more)

Wow! I guess all roads really do lead to Paris. The truth is that France is a secular nation with about 1/2 of one percent of the population being evangelical Christian. But most people have never heard the message of Jesus in language that they can understand. If we can communicate the unchanging message of Christ in a relevant way and distance ourselves from the idea of the institutional church, I believe that we will see a new movement of faith in France. And if a movement of Faith begins in France the world will take notice.

Join us.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Yesternight

It must be so confusing to kids to learn to refer to the previous day as yesterday. All four of my kids referred to it as lasterday for the longest time. Our second child has just begun to use the term the correct term yesterday. But, at lunch today he reminded me of something that happened yesternight. I think he was speaking in KJV English.