I FOUND YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE

At the beginning of the year I signed up for a Women's Bible Study at a local mega church located smack in the middle of the upper class of town. I wanted to go with a friend, I wanted to make more friends. It was the only thing I knew to do to make myself get off my growing-larger-butt at least once week. I deserved to wear clean clothes on Tuesdays.

I entered into the estrogen pep rally with as much postive-i-ty as I could squeeze out of my soul to find the kind smiles of women, garbed in Lilly Pulitzer carrying their Michael Kors bags. I found it comical when the leader announced that last sessions complaints were about worship and that there wasn't enough protein options on the snack table. I wasn't sure how I felt about either, honestly.

Then we were asked to do this exercise where we picked a word to focus on during the year. I actually had already been thinking of this, because it's big in the blogosphere of the Christian-girl. Some picked obedience (good luck), one lady picked humility (ha-ha!) and another patience (to which internally I screamed NOOOOO, trying to save her from the mistake she was making. All Christians KNOW to never ask God for patience)! Then it was my turn.

Mine was simply Love.

I am certain all the women were wondering what type of evil person I was that I had to focus on love. But I knew I had to learn to love again because, frankly, for the last few months, since we moved, I pretty much hated everything.

I hated church. (Yah, I said it!)

I hated this city.

I hated our circumstances.

All in all, I hated life.

True story. I hated it.

And my life wasn't all that bad. I lived in a nice house (still do). I have a husband who adores me (who in the world knows why, I'm not easy to love). I have kids who spend time with the family, don't use drugs, make good grades and love Jesus. (Seriously, though, I'm waiting to see how I've screwed them up).

But still, my heart was filled with this black, dark regret and unbelief. I figured if I learned to love God with a new passion and His people with a clear heart, then I would be okay once again. So I decorated my cute little heart stamped bookmark with the word — L.O.V.E. And with every intention to love once again.

Since then, I am simplifying my life, and God is flushing out my idea of purpose. And in the meantime, I still find it hard to get off the couch somedays, and I still cry to my husband, because I am, after all, a crybaby (Seriously, I am).

“Wah, Wah, I have no purpose.”

“Wah, Wah, I have no friends.”

“Wah, Wah, God has forgotten me.”

Wah.

Wah.

Wah.

My husband told me in so many words, to suck it up, put on my cape and get to saving people.

When my girlfriend asked me what I did all week, I told her, “Ohhh, just fighting the devil.”

Cuz sister, that is so what it is! When we want to love, the devil wants us to hate. When we want to be patient, the devil wants us to demand things. When we want to be humble, we have all the reason in the world to be boastful. And when we want more of Jesus, the devil tells us that it's the things of the world we need that really satisfy.

Lies. Lies and more lies. And I think I washed them away with all these tears I've cried over this last year.

So currently, I am ironing my cape, because there are people in this world, in my world, that need some Jesus-saving-love. This is my job (to love, not save) and the simplified version of yours:

Move God's Love into the lives of anyone and everyone within your reach.

The God's-Love Movement

#theglovemovement

 

Let's do this! Just look around you, and notice. God will do the rest. Comment and share your thoughts— you think you can be a way that God moves His love this week??

 

MY RESPONSE TO ‘SHOULD YOU MAKE YOUR CHILD SHARE’

Creating Unforgettable Adults is one of my main goals as a mom. To our family, an Unforgettable Adult is one who is a strong, Christ-follower who is rooted in an identity that is unshakeable and is willing to trail-blaze for Jesus.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Popsugar recently published an article that has gone viral in the parenting world. Why I Don’t Make My Son Share focuses on real life scenarios with pre-schoolers who struggle in a world of determining what is mine, what is yours and what is ours. Granted, preschoolers, and actually most children, are territorial in they find a sense of comfort and security in things. But is it so wrong to teach children to share?

In fact, there are many aspects of your child to take into consideration when teaching the “sharing lesson.” The first and foremost is the age of the child. Not all aged children can be taught the same lesson in the same way. Depending on the developmental age of the child will depend on how they respond. A toddler does not have the reasoning or abstract thinking skills of a 2nd grader, or even a preschool child. Teaching “sharing” is more difficult with a toddler because in their mind, everything in the entire world exists for them.

Regardless of age or anything else for that matter, I believe we should teach our children to share.

Here are a few comments from the article and my thoughts:

“I think it’s a great disservice to to teach him (the child) that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it.”

I agree. We are a generation of parents who teach our kids to remain toddlers their entire lives by feeding the lie that the world exists simply for them. I think the concept of sharing has absolutely nothing to do with the idea found in the above statement. To me the concept of sharing isn’t about entitlement it’s about serving.

Sharing has less to do with the child who wants the toy than with the child who has the power to be kind. The hope of the lesson of sharing is ‘pay it forward’. If I share with you, then you share with her. Along with the problematic sense of entitlement in the Ygeneration is also the sense of selfishness and lack of ability to work as team or within a family. Sharing encourages working together. To me there is nothing wrong with that–actually our kids need to learn all the characteristics of teamwork such as negotiation, communication and fairnes.

In addition, by not teaching your child to share the sense of entitlement simply shifts from the child who wants the toy to the child who has the toy. All I can visualize are all the seagulls in Finding Nemo chirping, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

As a Christian parent one of the most important lesson we can teach our children can be found in these passages:

I Corinthians 10:26 “the earth and everything in it belongs to God.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share-it’s not yours!”

Job 1:21 “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; praise the name of the Lord.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share- or I’m taking it away.”

“…think about your own day-to-day adult life. You wouldn’t cut in front of someone in the grocery checkout line just because you didn’t feel like waiting.”

Hopefully as an adult, by now I would have been taught kindness and social graces, so no, in fact, I would not cut in line at the store. Even most small children know that when you go to the store you have to wait in line, because they’ve been taught.

Teaching the concept of sharing is basically the same. It takes time, trials and persistence. The ideology of sharing is transcendent. Teaching sharing is not just about toys or things. Sharing is a deeply rooted part of every aspect of life. We share our time with others. When we grow up, we share our lives and our toothpaste with our spouse. We share our emotions with one another. We share life. People who do not share life with one another are found to be miserable and lonely. Our entire lives center around the concept of sharing. My hope is that because I’ve taught my children to share, someday when they are grown they might just let someone cut in front of them in line at the grocery store, just to be nice!

“Let’s teach our kids how to cope with disappointment because it happens.”

Yes, disappointment is a horrible part of life. But each lesson in life needs to be taught in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. I’m not sure disappointment should be the lesson taught along side the fundamental, and universal lesson of sharing. Disappointment is never intentionally taught by a person who loves you. Disappointment is the school of hard knocks. Life brings enough disappointment in itself. Perhaps better opportunities to teach a child to cope in disappointment are if your child doesn’t make the team at school, or your ice cream falls on the ground maybe even if a much anticipated spend-the-night just can’t happen, or sickness on field day. There are times and places….

In fact, Scripture teaches in Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

Translated by THIS mom: “We are playing with friends right now, so now is the time to SHARE.”

 

Teaching our kids to not share perpetuates the lie of the culture that I deserve and I have rights and it’s all about me. More importantly we rob our kids because there is joy in sharing. In fact there is so much joy in sharing because sharing is simply an expression of love–the love we see throughout the Scriptures and the very reason Jesus died for us. He died so that we may share in his inheritance, even though we are undeserving. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad Jesus decided to share.

Jesus AND his bride are BIG fans of sharing. The entire church was built on the premise of sharing:

Acts 2:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Translated by THIS mom: “You need to share your bubblegum, you need to share your time with your friends when you are playing, you need to share your space and let your friend sit next to you. You need to share your ideas with the world, and your faith with the unbelieving. You need to share love and kindness and hope to a hopeless world. You need to share your uniqueness and amazing gifts God has given you to make this world a better place. You need to not worry about who wants what, because it’s the person you are sharing with that is more important–even sometimes more important than you. So stop being the selfish person the enemy so wants you to be and be the wonderful creation God intended you to be. And share your toys.”

What do you think…the new trend of teaching our kids that we don’t “have to” share—is this a good thing?

Comment and SHARE!

 

Top 5 Church (Plant) Marketing Mistakes

Marketing is a necessary part of church planting in America. We would LOVE to think that the LORD will speak directly to every single person who needs to attend your church, placing a calling on their life. And He might…and He CAN. But LBR (let's be real), there are churches on every corner, and people have just as many choices on a Sunday morning as they do toothpaste at Walmart.

Marketing is important. People are impacted by your church, and God can use your marketing strategy to draw people to the work He is doing through you. But there are lots of marketing mistakes in church plants. Here are my top 5.

1. NOT INVESTING IN YOUR WEBSITE : Most church plants know that a website is necessary but are weary of investing too much money in one. A website is the new front door. As a church-planter and a new-church seeker, the website is the first thing I research. By the content and how “put together” the website is, I will make a decision on whether or not I will visit a church. Invest in your website, update your content, and make it easy to navigate. Use neutral lingo that church goers and non church goers can understand. Your website is your MOST powerful marketing tool!

2. SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS: Most churches do a great job advertising their church before Sunday, but once the BIG DAY comes…BLECH. MOST church plants are mobile, so no one is driving by your very own facility every day, noticing your building, remembering where you are. First time visitors (which is the GOAL here) need signs. They don't want to make U-Turns, or turn into the wrong parking lot. And you may think, “I have plenty of signs!” To which I ask, can anyone read them from the road? Size, color and font make a difference! Once there, visitors need to know where the bathroom is, and where to check in kids. Signs Signs Signs! It's better to OVER-educate than under!

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS: Announcements are the biggest pain for most churches. Where do you place them in the service?? What do you share? How do you communicate? Announcements share the heartbeat of your church. It shows what is important and it also sets the bar of expectation. Too many get lost, too few show a life-less church. Prioritize by deadlines, sign up requirement and volunteer need. (BTW: My personal thought is that each week, a different ministry should be asking for volunteers.) Refine your announcements. It is the tool that gets people taking the next step of involvement at your church.

4. SOCIAL MEDIA: People are on their phones/computers/ipads constantly. Social Media is the absolute best follow up with visitors and a great way to make announcements–especially the ones that didn't make the Sunday cut. I have followed tons of church plants on social media and the easiest and the marketing platform that's FREE is not used nearly enough or as effectively. The only thing Social Media costs is time. Programs like HOOTSUITE help you link your social media and time out posts so that you the bi-vocational pastor can post an encouragement from Sunday's message even though he's teaching Math. Use your SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

5. STAY PUT: I've packed up and tore down and set up and moved and considered and UGH! the frustrations of church planting! The most frustrating is finding a space. But if at all possible, stay put! If you are investing in marketing financially, every move undoes the work and effort you've done in the last six months. Also, moving even just a block or two can change the entire dynamic of your church and you will find you might serve a totally different demographic than you were expecting (not that this is bad, but you must be prepared). Re-think your space if you can't make at least a one year commitment. When picking a place, remember that you are only as big as your smallest space. (finding an effective children's area is close to impossible). Think outside the box!

Invest in marketing your church! If someone shows up on Sunday and God touches their life, it will be worth it all! And if you need to hire a consultant, give me a shout out! tiffany@tiffanycrawford.org

What has effectively marketed your church plant? Comment and share with me, I'm always interested in new ideas.

Chik-Fil-A Gets It…The Church Doesn’t

Last week was our annual ice day in San Antonio. We brave nothing near as tragic or ridiculous as what’s happening in Georgia right now, but our town is definitely not prepared to handle snow, or even ice. On the eve of the winter blast, I was taking my strep-throat infected, finally hungry, nine year old to grab his favorite food.  We approached the light and he immediately started digging for change. Every corner is occupied by beggars, and ice days are no exception. Zac spoke a blessing as he handed the man the money. In return, the homeless man offered encouragement to Zac to stay in school so that he doesn’t have his fingers frozen off. As we pulled away, one thought came to my head…

Gloves.

Gloves became our mission that day. We quite literally ran inside of Wal-Mart to find the warmest gloves in the store. We purchased them, quite literally ran back to our car and made our trek to find this man who had frozen fingers. But he was gone. We circled and saw him huddled with friends under a distant bridge.  After picking up my daughter from school, we made another round to see if he emerged but now he was forever gone.  But on the way back around, we spied a woman, pulling her baggage (don’t we all?) with an over-sized coat pulled over her hands.  We pulled into the parking lot, rolled the window down and blessed her.

Ahhh her face.  Her angelic, worry filled face was glowing with gratefulness.

As the winds blew stronger and the temperature dropped that night, I lay in bed heartbroken for those sleeping in the woods and under bridges.  I wondered…

Why doesn’t the city step up and plan better?

Why aren’t we using our paid-for-by-taxes school gyms to offer a temporary sleeping place for the homeless?

Visions of local churches, large local churches, filled my head… Then a picture of a grieving God looking down from heaven whispering, “They just don’t get it.”

My wondering wandered…

Why aren’t churches being the hands and feet?

Why are closed-on-Thursday-waiting-waiting-for-Sunday buildings empty?

Why is God’s sanctuary locked up tight?

Whatever the reason, I’m almost certain they are all rooted in the need to not be inconvenienced.  It’s not our mission, it’s not in our budget, it’s too close to the weekend.

Yesterday I read about Chik-Fil-A in Georgia who closed their profitable business and went out into the ice stricken streets and fed the abandoned.  Then the doors swung open as they offered respite and warmth for wayward travelers.  Again I ask…

Why does Chik-Fil-A ‘get it’ but the church doesn’t? I continue to wonder if the church is wrongly, and sinfully, building it’s self on the ideology of the American Kingdom and missing the opportunities to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do you think?  Pastors, churches, what is your excuse?

LG|LP

Church Trends: It’s Not Okay

There is this new saying in the church makes me insane. The first time I noticed it I was driving down a road in Florida and it was in huge letters on flags flapping in the wind. I couldn't figure out right away why it bothered me so much.

I didn't think much more of it, until I saw it again at another church. The idea was catching on, and my insanity defense was growing stronger. I moved 1500 miles away from this slogan. Out of sight, out of mind….but no “BOOM” it followed me…and “BOOM” I can't hold it in any longer.

Churches, please stop telling people,

It's okay to not be okay.

There is the counselor side of me that says, “Yes, everyone has permission to admit their faults and not be perfect. Yes, if you are having a crummy day or a crummy few days, it will all be okay.”

But then there is this thing in me that says, “No, this trendy slogan is not the message of the Gospel.”

This saying “it's okay to not be okay” perpetuates the American, self-centered approach to Christianity: it's all about me.

As I dig through the Gospel, I don't see Jesus walking around during his ministry saying this to people just to get them to listen to him. Actually, quite the opposite. He said things like :

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ( Jn3:3)

“Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!” (Jn2:16)

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks off that water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn 4:13-14)

“Do you want to be made well? … Rise, take up your bed and walk.” (Jn 5:6,8)

Jesus never seemed to give permission to dwell in our sin, or to live a victimized life. Jesus never once told the woman at the well, it's okay that you're not okay. What he actually said was: I know you're not okay, and you need me to fix that.

After Jesus left the earth, Peter preached the first sermon. The Apostles words to everyone were not it's okay that you struggle, it's okay that you are filled with sin. Peters words were:

“Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

Jesus knows our struggles, and he knows them intimately and personally. But we are wrong to preach a message of dwelling in our suffering. Jesus himself is the message of Hope and offers Freedom from not being okay. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)

His Promise is that when you are not okay, call on Him, he will Free you.

Where the Spirit off the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Cor 3:17)