Thursday, December 31, 2009

We're Going to Two Services on January 31st!!!

I am sooo super excited about this decision we've made as a staff team. Thank you to all of you who've given input into this decision. We have spent much time in prayer and discussion trying to discern the proper timing and procedure with this decision. We have been praying like crazy for God to lead us to His best during this season of the church. Truth be told, I actually wanted to add a second service in September and our team and a couple of mentors told me to hold my horses. So I did! But here is why I believe it is the best decision for our church: NOW! (technically January 31st)

So here is how we came to this decision: (if you care)

1. We recognize our primary call is to reach people with the good news about Christ. We must give people the very best opportunity to respond to Him. That means that our comfort and convenience as a staff team, and as leaders is no longer our primary aim. Adding a second service actually complicates our lives, requires more out of our team and is not the "easiest" change. Yet, we have such a burning passion to spread the love of God to our community that we are laying our comfort and convenience down for the sake of others having the best opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.

2. We averaged over 200 adults in worship during the month of November. Our meeting room seats about 250. This means that we averaged over 80% of our capacity in our current meeting space. In church life when a room is at 80% capacity, growth stops. Why does this happen? I have NO IDEA! It just is the case across the board. We have to figure out a way to add more seats so that space doesn't stop of us from reaching the vision God has for our church.

3. Churches typically grow in spurts. So for example we grew from 125 people to 150 people from March to April, then we held there during May and June. Then we went from 165 in July to close 250 in total attendance in November. (averaging growth of about 20 people per month). Through prayer, planning and projections we anticipate late January through April to be another season of growth. If we don't launch a 2nd at this point, it may not be best until fall 2010 to launch, which with our growth trends could cause us to miss out on over 100 new people God would have for us to reach.

We have huge opportunity on January 31st to reach new people as we head into the Spring. We plan to send out 60,000 mailers to our community and challenge every person to bring a friend or two. What if we tried to reach a bunch of new people and didn't have sits for them? So through God's leading we will be able to create enough seats for all the people who currently come and more! Our children's ministry also has reached capacity. Our second service will free up space for children's ministry and allow our Bay Kids to reach more people.

4. Bay Kids Challenges: Many of our BayKid's workers have been serving on a weekly basis for 8 months now without getting to attend an adult worship service. Adding the 2nd service will give opportunities for these people to participate in one service and serve in another. This is a huge win for our volunteer teams.

5. We have close to 100 people who've started to come to South Bay but have yet to experience the life changing power of serving Jesus on one of our volunteer teams! Adding a second service will open up at least 50 extra spots for people to serve 1-2 times per month. This is a huge win for our regular attenders to get more connected.

What are some of the potential concerns with going to two services:
1. Everyone will no longer know each other. I've had several conversations with people asking me about this. Often people comment on how much they love the warm and inviting atmosphere of South Bay Church. I think that people can fear that as we grow large we will lose that warmth. We often say as a team that we want to grow large and small at the same time. We grow large and reach more people through our Sunday services. We grow smaller and develop community through our small groups that meet throughout the week. Every person knowing every person would be nice, but is not necessary to have healthy biblical relationships. In addition, there are both practical and missional reasons for this. Let's be honest... You can only really maintain relationships with about 65 people. Wouldn't it be a travesty if all of our relational bandwidth was tied up inside our church and we no longer had the capacity to carry out the mission Jesus has given us as a church? Let's develop great relationships with one another AND make room in our lives to meet and love those who've yet to experience God's love! We are finding the "BOTH AND" solution and not the "EITHER OR" solution.

2. We could potentially lose momentum when it comes to critical mass in our services. This is a very valid concern. First off, we must consider the question... "What is critical mass anyways?" Ideally we don't want to have less than 100 people in any one service. When we kick off the second service there is a very strong possibility that one service will be smaller than the other. The great news about this... That gives us additional seats to reach new people QUICKLY! Also, through the set up of our room we will pull the curtains closer together and make the room feel smaller. This will help us gain a better feel and set up a small number of chairs. So in essence in one week will go from 250 chairs in one service to 350 chairs in two service and add more chairs up to 500 as we grow. That will be pretty cool to watch all that unfold. I totally think this is a valid concern, and going to a second service is always a great risk, but not expanding the kingdom and growing is a greater risk for us as a church!!

I'm not sure you really even wanted to know all of this. But I'm sure if you didn't you stopped reading by now. If you did, I'm glad you made it to the end. This is my world and the stuff I think about, pray about, and lose sleep about. At the end of the day, leading in God's Kingdom is kind of an art. You pray, try to hear from God, get wisdom from books mentors and friends, analyze the data and then try to make the best decision possible. We've made the best Spirit led, strategic, wise, vision focused decision possible. I pray that you'll jump on board with us to watch all that God is going to do in 2010.

With love!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Compulsive Investigation

Recently I've been reading through the book of Nehemiah perusing for leadership principles as we head into 2010. I have a laundry list just from the first two chapters. This investigative style of reading the bible does not let itself to expedient progress through the book, but this change of pace has been both healthy and insightful for my journey. 

Today, I was surprised by this insight as I researched Nehemiah's life..."Great leaders have a compulsion to investigate and mine for truth."  Truth about God, truth about life, truth about themselves, truth about their organizations, and truth about their current reality. 

3 Times we see this play out in the first two chapters of Nehemiah: 
1.2, "Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem."
2.13, "By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the DUng Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, whcih had been broekn down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire." 
2.15, "so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall." 

Nehemiah intentionally investigates the situation to gain a greater understanding of how he will carry out the vision God has placed in his heart. I can just imagine Nehemiah with his Moleskin bought from Babylon and Nobles with his pilot 2.0 pen in hand while he intensely takes notes to gain a better understanding of the situation the Israelites found themselves in. He was not to quick to draw his judgement and plan of action. He first investigated. He first made sure he had a firm foundation when it came to his understanding of that which needed to be changed. 

Leaders must learn to be investigators. Often times we operate with inaccurate information about ourselves, our families, and our churches. Many leaders have blatant blind spots which could be creating their demise! If we dealt more honestly we would be able to make wiser plans and strategies which would lead to greater levels of fruitfulness in our lives and our organizations. We've all noticed that leaders are typically the ones with most opinions and ideas.  This character trait lends itself to a underdeveloped skill of listening. Those leaders with courage and confidence who compliment the former with humility and a willingness to listen are much more effective as they begin to implement the vision God has placed on their hearts. 

Here are some questions I wrote in my journal after this insight: 
1. What in my life prevents me from seeing reality in my marriage, my relationship with my son or in my leadership of South Bay Church?
2. What can I do to create a culture of leadership that allows people to speak up and call a foul without being punished or mistreated for their honesty? 
3. What blind spots do I have in my life or leadership? How am I engaging our team to help me clearly see these spots? 
4- What in my life prevents people from being direct, straightforward and honest with me? 
5- To what degree am I being honest with myself about sin in my life? Am I tuning my ear to the Spirit's prompting and responding when I am convicted? 

I want to grow in my ability to investigate and discover the reality in my life. I want to be all that God has created me to be, I want my family to become all that God has created us to be, and I want our church to see all that God has in store for us. How will ever reach the "what if?" of God's vision if I don't understand the "what is?" of my current reality. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Behind the Scenes- Tuesday Staff Meetings

Here is a brief snapshot of how we do our Tuesday staff meetings.
8:30- Direct report with Filipe
9:00- Direct report meeting with Archie
9:30- Direct report meeting with Renan
10:00-12:00- All staff meets.
12:00-1:30- We grab lunch together. (sometimes our families join us.)

On thursday at 4pm we do a quick check in for Sunday service to make sure everything is on target for the weekend. We also will do one subject focused meetings throughout the month to plan out message series, events or tackle problems we are facing as a team.

Also, I do a Monday morning 9:00am meeting with Laura who is our Administrative Assistant at South Bay. At that point we talk through my schedule and tasks for the week. She cuts my workload in about half when it comes to admin. This has freed me up tremendously to focus on leading, vision, teaching and preaching. She does a great job keeping everything organized around the office!

Behind the Scenes- South Bay Staff Meetings from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do You Hear? Begins tomorrow!

I am super excited about Christmas series beginning tomorrow at South Bay Church! Watch this short promo video for all the details. Don't miss it! 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Behind the Scenes- South Bay Offices

One fun thing I am going to do on this blog over the next few weeks is give you "Behind the Scenes" snipets of my life and our church. Today's blog is just a short tour of the South Bay Church office where I spend a lot of time on a weekly basis! Enjoy!

Behind The Scenes- Part 1, "South Bay Offices." from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Power of Gratitude

I think that gratitude should be at the core of every follower of Christ's life. There are very few attitudes more powerful than gratitude. Honestly, I think that if we focused on gratitude we would love God more, love people more, give more generously, pray harder, serve more consistently and all of the choices God desires for our lives. Today I'm reminded of how much I'm grateful for...

Here are just 10!
1. I am grateful first and foremost for my salvation, that Christ would take my sins upon the cross and give His life for me to be free and forgiven!
2. I am grateful for my beautiful family- my wife Stacie and my son Caedmon are two of the biggest gifts in my life.
3. I am grateful for our incredible team here at South Bay Church- our staff and their families have made so many sacrifices for the sake of our church.
4. I am grateful to have parents and siblings that have loved me and believed in me all throughout my life. The encouragement of my father and mother have served as a source of strength and courage.
5. I am grateful for the people who a part of our volunteer team at South Bay Church. Each week so many people make tremendous investments in our church with their time, talents, and resources.
6. I am grateful for our church and each person who has made a decision in the past year to join us for this journey!
7. I am grateful that Stacie and I are privileged to be in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia.
8. I am grateful for the natural beauty of the SF Bay Area including the weather, the water, SF City, and so much more! I could go on and on about this!
9. I am grateful for all of the churches and families that have invested in South Bay over the last 18 months since beginning this journey. We would not be where we are today.
10. I am so grateful for all of the mentors and leaders that have invested in my leadership and in my life!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Love Out Loud!

We're so excited to introduce you to the Love Out Loud Offering at South Bay Church. Between now and January 31, 2010 our goal is to give $15,000 to causes outside the walls of our church. We will be working to do the following: help start Epic Church beginning in 2010 in San Francisco, give to global missions overseas, help fight human trafficking, and give towards our Easter Outreach 2010. For all of the details about the offering click here and download the Love Out Loud offering packet. Below you will find a short intro video. You can participate and give online toward the offering by clicking here and you can also give at the Sunday Service between now and January 31, 2010. Let's give generously and watch God use our church to impact the world!

Love Out Loud! from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reflections From Sunday

This past Sunday at South Bay Church we had the fourth message of our Marriage Redefined series titled, "Does Marriage Have to Limit My Life?" This has by far been our best attended series to date. I believe that so many people's marriages are in trouble and it so often it is extremely really difficult to find the kind of help we need with this super significant subject. On Sunday I talked about the "Death to Life Principle" from John 12:20-26 which is this, "when God calls us to give something up in life it is always so that He can give us something greater in return." In essence, at times God calls us to lay down our conveniences so that he can bless us with something far better than what we laid down. Marriage can be very challenging at times and can seem like a spotlight into the insufficiencies in our hearts and character. Married folks have to lay down many of the conveniences of single living. Every decision from what I wear to how many starbucks drinks I have in a week must be made in light of the most important person in my life, my spouse! In marriage there are many little deaths and sacrifices that have to be made along the way in order to make the relationship work. These deaths can often make you feel limited in your life. I meet many people who felt limited by marriage or parenting and instad of allowing God to develop holiness of character inside of us ran from their marriage. When I make a choice to die to some of my selfish goals and interests for the best interest of my family, I then find that God gives me a greater joy and peace on the other side of that sacrifice. On Sunday I challenged singles and married people alike to be reminded that the life God calls for is one of sacrifice. When we learn to live this and embrace it, we then can find life!

In addition to all of this we had exactly 240 present and 3 people publicly profess their faith in Christ through believers baptism. One of these people made a decision on the spot that morning to get baptized. It was so amazing to me as I watched her respond to God! I am so proud of the three ladies who took the plunge and identified themselves with Jesus. You are an example to so many. BTW, we didn't have any guys take the plunge... I challenged all the men in our church on Sunday saying, "you let the women kick your butt in responsiveness to God!" Next time I think we'll have a few men get baptized!

We're looking forward to the conclusion of the Marriage Redefined series on Sunday looking at "God's Definition" of marriage. We are going to address some very edgy topics. It's going to be great! Looking forward to all that God will do this weekend!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener

You've heard the phrase, "the grass is always greener on the other side." I had a small revelation the other day when walking through our apartment complex. There is a patch of artificial grass in one location along a sidewalk for a stretch of about 30 yards. When you look at this artificial grass from the other side of the road, it looks more green the real grass close by and it stays green year around with very little care. It actually looks really nice. The only downside with the grass is that it has no life. Eventually this artificial grass will wear out from foot traffic and need to be replaced. While the real grass may go through seasons of difficulty and need more tender care, that grass can be restored. The artificial grass must be replaced. 

There are areas of our lives God wants to restore. He wants to give that area some TLC and get it looking green and beautiful again. Rather than looking at the artificial grass on the other side of the road and going for a swap, remember there is always less pain in the long run when we let God restore our lives rather than trying replace things on our own! Stick it out in your marriage and let God bring restoration. Stay loyal and committed to that friend and let God heal the relationship. Don't throw in the towel on your job just because it gets difficult. If God called you there, stay put and let him do Him do His work. Keep surrendering your finances to God instead of taking short cuts. He is the great redeemer and restorer! He can make all things new as you honor your commitments and stay faithful to Him! 

What do you need to let God work on today? What are you running from that if yielded to God will be made healthy again? 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's the secret?

I spend a lot of time talking with pastors and other church leaders. In our circles we often look up to the fast growing large churches. In my conversations with other pastors I always hear this speculative question, "I wonder what's the secret to their success?" It is almost like we assume that there is some secret ingredient that if applied to our environment will cause immediate growth. This can lead to imitation of another ministry without personal inspiration from God! Today during my quiet time I was challenged today by a statement John the baptizer made in response to the growth of his ministry... He said this, "A man can receive only what is given to him from heaven." 

What a powerful statement about ministry and life. Ultimately whenever there is a ministry that is multiplying, lives are being changed and things are going up and to the right, behind this is a team of people who are receiving a gift from God. When we see life and ministry this way, we no longer ask the question, "what is the secret sauce?" We can shift our attention to ask this question, "what is the fabric of a life and ministry that God blesses?" What is going on in the hearts and minds of a person who is positioned to receive what God wants to give? When we think like this we maintain humility when our ministry grows and we give praise when others look to us for answers. One of my mentors said, "none of us are experts, just a bunch of people trying to change the world and live in the favor and blessing of God." I want to give credit to God for our growth! I want to make sure that people know God is the author of this movement and He is the one changing lives. It's not some system or strategy. I love systems and strategies, I think they're both very important. But at the bottom of what God is doing in our church is a group of people who desparately want to see God move. A group of people that are willing to sacrifice everything to make our one life count. It's not a formula. It's a movement born out of pain, tears, passion, faith, and prayer. Today I want leaders to live with an urgency about the blessing of God upon our lives. Fruitfulness doesn't happen if there isn't faithfulness. May the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be favorable towards the giver of every good and perfect gift!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflections On Sunday

We had a tremendous day at South Bay Church on Sunday! God is blessing this church in so many incredible ways. We had 253 people present, 202 adults... best ever aside from easter this year. In addition to this we had over 34 people join us for the first time today and a record in generosity from our people. I am so overwhelmed by God's faithfulness to this church. 

Couple of highlights from Sunday: 
- 2nd week of Marriage redefined looking at Ephesians 4:22-29. Talked about what God intended for communication to look like. 
- Nobody gets this communication thing right 100% of the time, it requires work and a constant renewing of our minds and attitudes to the principles from the scriptures. 
- Healthy communication has four key ingredients outlined in this passage... it is clear, calm, current, and constructive! 
- If we would learn to communicate the way God outlines we would experience the joy and peace in our home that God intends. 
- 2 more people made a decision to follow Christ this week! This is the best part of what God is doing in our midst. Really looking forward to our baptism service on Nov. 15. If you have questions about baptism or would like to sign up just shoot us an email. ( 
- Couple of key one liners from the message- 
Getting louder helps you be heard, but doesn't help you be understood!
In communication you can win an argument but lose the relationship! 
Some people would experience a radical change in their marriage if they just learned to use words to build up instead of tear down. 

* All of this to say, it is looking at what Jesus did on the cross that we understand the basis for relationships. It is in understanding His great love that we begin to experience the kind of communication that he desires. 

In addition to all this we had a great day with volunteers. Our team did a fabulous job with creating an environment that helps people who are far from God connect with the message of Christ! I am so excited about what God is doing in our church and I can't wait to watch him continue to help us reach our community! Thanks to all of you who serve faithfully and give yourself diligently to this vision. There's no way we could do it without you. 

BTW- we've had close to 150 first time guests in the last 3 months. it is so exciting to see new faces every week. If you didn't hear we have a Newcomer's Dessert this Sunday November 8... immediately following the service. Get all the details here. If you would like to rsvp just email- 

Super excited about talking on Romance and Intimacy next Sunday! Hope you'll be there. I am proud to be your pastor and so excited about the future of what God is going to do through this church! 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clean Up Time!

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some are for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." 2 Timothy 2:20-21

The Apostle Paul gives a parallel of our lives being like a house. There are things in a house that are useful and things in our house that are just junk. Everybody has a junk drawer. For a while in my house we had a junk room (my office). Often times this is what our garages become, just place to store extra junk. (At least that happened to me when we had a garage) The time comes when we must do some serious cleaning to make room for more desirable objects. I am always amazed by how much relief I feel when I clean out an old closet, and how little time it actually takes. That brings me to the question, "Why do I avoid cleaning out a closet like the plague." I think that my most common thought is, "There might be stuff in there that I need to use in the future." When it comes to our spiritual life, when we do "clean up" God will fill up the space with that which is more desirable. He will give me new vision, fresh power from His Spirit and His resources in ways that I wasn't previously experiencing. This requires some work on my part. Not in a legalistic religious way, but in a response of obedience to His command. What in my life today needs to be removed to make room for what God wants to do tomorrow? What junk do I need to put in a trash bag and take to the curb? I love Paul's phrase, we will become useful to the Master, "prepared to do any good work!" May I be found prepared to do any good work. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marriage Redefined begins Sunday!

I can hardly wait to kick off our Marriage Redefined series this Sunday. I am so amazed at how difficult marriage can be at times. The bible has so much to say about making relationships work and how marriage can actually bring joy to our lives! I really want to encourage to be there this Sunday and to make sure you bring a friend for this very important series of messages! Here are some of the subjects we will cover- 

October 25- How Do We Deal With Money Issues? 
November 1- Can Communication Be Fulfilling? 
November 8- Where Did the Romance and Intimacy Go? 
November 15- Does Marriage Have to Limit My Life? 
November 22- What Does God Think About Marriage? 

I hope you will join us this Sunday!! 

Faithful to the end!

Hebrews 11:13
"All these people were still living by faith when they died." 

Wow! What a statement. On the day of their death these people were living with all out passion and fire for Jesus! Why do so few people finish the race strong? It seems like I hear of so many people who have passion for Christ at one point in the journey, but lose their passion the longer they are a Christian. Why is that? It seems like the more we know God the more we should be consumed with Him! When you meet someone who finishes strong, they are the shining star, the exception to the norm. I was challenged by this thought, "what must I do today to live for Jesus tomorrow?" Are the choices I'm making today leading me towards a life that finishes well? May God give us the grace to build a strong foundation that leads to a life of lasting impact! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflections On Sunday

On Sunday we continued part 3 of our Questions for God series asking the question, "Why all the pain in suffering?" In my opinion this is one of the most difficult questions to deal with because it is very philosophically complex and very personal for so many people. The question often isn't "why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?" but "why did my father die when i was only 10?" or "why does my 5 year old child have leukemia?" It would be so much easier to address this question with people I don't know, but sharing with our church on Sunday was very difficult! So, I just confessed from the front end that I still wrestle with this question and that a total solution really is beyond human understanding! My goal with this past week's message was merely to provide some level of clarity and some hope to those dealing with pain and hardship currently. 

Here are a couple of the highlights: 
* Pain and suffering in our lives ultimately flows back to waywardness and folly. This would include the poor choices we've made, others have made, or that Adam and Eve made in the book of Genesis.  His creation at the beginning did not include evil, but allowed for evil based upon the freedom he gave humanity to choose Him! Ultimately, all hardship stems back to the fall. I talked about how it is easier for me to understand how my choices cause pain in my life, but it is more difficult to grasp how God would allow others choices and Adam and Eve's choices to have such consequences. Yet, if I am honest, if were back in the garden of Eden I would have chosen the forbidden fruit just as they did! 
* Secondly, in my suffering I see my need for a savior or my need for help. For example, I have really neglected my dental hygiene over the last 5-6 years. It wasn't until two of my teeth caused unbearable pain that I chose to go see the dentist. Our pain drives us to our knees and ultimately causes us to cry out for help outside of ourselves. We often fight the tendency to self medicate this pain... with relationships, with jobs, with school, with hobbies, with money, and of course with chemical addictions. In the end the "numbing" of the pain doesn't cause the pain to go away. 
* Finally, it is only in looking to the cross of Christ that I am able to find healing, comfort and hope in my pain and suffering. It is in realizing that he who never committed any wrong, never went wayward, never had an evil thought stepped into an evil world and ultimately would bear my sins on the cross so that I can find healing and comfort in my suffering! What a wonderful comfort. Most of you who are parents can remember some time when you saw your child in pain, the natural instinct is to think, "If I could just trade places with them." That is what God did, he traded places and entered into the worst form of suffering in order that we might find comfort and hope. The truth is, God cares so much more about your soul than your body. If you and I surrender to him for his help we will one day spend eternity with Him, where there will be, "no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow." And ultimately we will experience an eternity of pain free living. WOW! 

This was by far the most difficult subject I've ever addressed in teaching. In the end, when it comes to pain or suffering I don't know why God chooses some to suffer more than others. It is beyond my human understanding... Yet, I know that by His grace I will choose to place trust in Him today. 

In addition to the message: 
* We had our highest attendance (aside from easter) with 236 people from our community in attendance! It so great to see a ton of people who are inviting their friends and family to join them. 
* Our volunteers amaze me every week from the street with our parking lot gang all the way to our ushers inside who help people find seats. The band did and incredible job leading in worship this Sunday. it was all around one of the best worship services we've had to date. 
* We had a Family Fun Festival immediately following the worship service. A team of 8 people from Johnson Ferry Church in GA came and served. They knocked it out of the park inviting people from the community, setting up the event and taking down. They enabled our staff and key volunteers to interact with people from the community who came to the event. We had over 200 people who participated, many of them never had been to our church before. Great job team! Praise God. 
* We had another person decide to follow Christ for the first time this Sunday. Just about every week we are having people decide to give their lives to Christ! What a huge blessing this is! 

We are building tremendous momentum this fall. I am so thankful to God for all that He is doing in our midst. I am thankful to our team for their commitment, their prayers and their hard work. There is no way we would be where we are today if it were not for the people who sacrifice their time, money and energy to see this vision go! Thank you for giving, thank you for praying, thank you for serving. Together we are impacting our community and our region with God's love! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Questions For God!

I am so pumped about the Questions for God series beginning this Sunday!!! Do you ever wish you could ask God just one question? At South Bay we acknowledge we don’t have all the answers, but we believe that it is important to address questions we all wrestle with. Bring a friend and join us on Sundays over the next four weeks as we look into some of humanity’s deepest “Questions for God.” 

September 27- What is My Purpose in Life?

October 4- Why Are There So Many Religions?

October 11- Why is There So Much Pain and Suffering?

October 18- What Happens When I Die? 

Questions for God from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reflections on the weekend

This was a great weekend for the team at South Bay Church. There were many highlights from the weekend that are noteworthy so I will give you my random musings! 
* The weekend began at 8:30 est on Friday when I left the east coast from a pastor's training event. I had the opportunity to be around some great young pastors and learn from some of the fastest growing churches in the country. It took me 16 hours to get home and I finally landed in SJ at 9:30pm. 
* On Saturday and Sunday Over 50 people representing South Bay served throughout the course of the weekend at the Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival. South Bay helped with setting up and taking down, cleaning up the park, and playing in the Kid Kingdom area of the event. Included in the 50 people was an incredible team from Lake Pointe Church in Dallas, TX. Lake Pointe is our primary sponsoring church and has done wonders in helping this church take off. Over the last year they have sent 6 different teams across the country to be a part of work. Every time they send top notch people! 
* I am consistently amazed by all the people who served this weekend. You guys had a great attitude, showed Jesus love and made a huge impact on our community! Please know that you are changing people's lives and making a huge difference! You are a part of a mighty movement of God that is going to change the world!! 
* It is always so incredible to be a part of our city's events. We believe that this is one of the best ways for the church to serve the community. Every time we serve it is amazing to see the responses of people in the community and city officials. 
* We finished up our Losing My Religion series with a message titled, "Stop Judging, Start Loving." I talked about how love is really what will change the world not judging. A Christ follower should become some overwhelmed by his or her need for forgiveness that we become overwhelmed with love for others. 
* Said that it is easiest to judge people in areas where we are strong. Yet we let others of the hook where we are weak. Kind of funny the way it works. There is a little hypocrisy in that! When I realize that I am not the judge but Jesus is and that I am not perfect but Jesus is, then there is much more love that flows from my life! 
* Challenged everyone to bring 1-3 friends next week for the kick off our "Questions for God" series. We as a team are praying that we would have over 200 adults there this weekend and that God would do amazing things in our midst! More on the series tomorrow! 
* South Bay Church is making progress, we had 190 people there this week, still hanging out around 200 people. Every week we continue to have good number of first time guests and people making decisions to follow Christ. There is a ton of great momentum! Now we are praying that God would really help this church go to the next level of effectiveness! 
* Excited about the fact that we will have an ad for the Questions for God series in the San Jose Mercury, the Santa Clara weekly and the Santa Clara University newspaper this week. Also, we have several banners up all over town that will be publicizing the launch of the new series. Please pray that God would move tremendously in people's hearts and help us get the word out!! 
* Looking forward to the biggest Sunday yet at South Bay on 9/27!! Don't miss out! Be there and bring a friend! 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Morning Download

Sunday was a good day for us at South Bay Church. We continue to make tremendous progress in many area of the church. Here are a couple of highlights of the day yesterday. 

* Losing My Religion part 3, "from hypocrisy to authenticity." 
* Taught from Mattthew 15:1-20... Jesus problem with the pharisees is that they valued their interpretation of God's law over God's law itself. 
* Traditions and man made laws tend to focus on external modification. God is focused on heart transformation. 
* The traditions were established to protect man from breaking God's commands, but eventually kept the religious people from experiencing God. 
* God is more concerned with what comes out of your mouth than what goes into your mouth! When you focus on the heart you get transformation. 
* We should learn to pay attention to our hearts... Greed, jealousy, pride, selfishness... asking, "What is the root of that condition of my heart?" 
* People often are not honest about their hearts and try to act like their disease of the heart doesn't exist. This deception leads to great sickness in all areas of our lives!

In addition to all this: 
* 185 people were in attendance on Sunday. We had 15 first time guests! People are doing a great job inviting their friends and spreading the word about South Bay!
* One person made a decision to follow Christ for the first time! 
* Sign ups for small groups continued. Still waiting to get those numbers. If you've yet to sign up for a group make sure to get into a group! Click here for groups info. 
* Next Sunday is the last week of our Losing My Religion series. Make sure to be there for the conclusion of this great series!
* I am so thankful to God for all that He is doing in our midst! We believe that we are so blessed to be a part of something that is soo much bigger than our lives! I can't wait to see what he continues to do as we move forward. 

PS... The questions for God series is just 2 weeks away! This is one you want to miss as we address some of humanity's deepest questions for God!! 

Swimming in a Dumpster

This morning I went swimming in a dumpster in search of an iPod and expensive speakers. Here is my reasoning... Last night after a newcomer's dessert for South Bay Church it was one of those rare instances where it is raining in the Silicon Valley. Rather than getting Archie's designer u2 version of the iPod and our church's nice desktop speakers wet we placed them inside of a plastic bag. A trash bag might I add. Between the clubhouse of my apartment and the trash shoot outside my door I began thinking about other things. Like changing the world, getting work done on Monday, and on and on. Unfortunately I forgot about the fact that I was holding close to $400 in electronics in my hands. This morning when we were hauling everything back up to the office I asked Filipe, "where are the speakers?" Well I immediately realized, "they are in the dumpster." So Archie and I took a quick trip back to the dumpster at North Park apartments. I dove in head first trying to find this valuable bag. I soon discovered everything my neighbors had eater over the weekend and the distinct smell Asian food makes once is has been processed and placed inside of a diaper. But I was willing to get dirty for this valuable item... And, by the grace of God I found this bag of goods. With only a minor ding in the iPod! We are celebrating listening to music on the iPod this morning. What a reminder of how God is with us as human beings. He stooped down out of heaven into the throws of humanity for the sake of finding our wayward souls and thus displayed his immense love for humanity! What a great reminder today. We have a good who stoops low because we are of infinite worth in His eyes. He is willing to get his hands dirty for you. The big difference between me and God in this illustration... God is not forgetful. We don't get lost because God forgets about us, but because we forget about Him. Let us be reminded of His love and desire for us to know Him today! 

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Effects of Leadership

Recently I've been reading through the Old Testament prophetic books. These books can be ardous and painful, yet if trudged through diligently can provide great insight into the waywardness of humanity coupled with God's longing for us to return to His heart. Repeatedly the prophets challenge the nation of Israel to repent and return to God. In many instances they first give exhortation or correction to Israel's leaders, who were always the starting point of the nation's digression away from God. It never ceases to amaze me the effect of one leader's life on a whole organization. One leader's pursuit of God or sin can eventually tip a whole group of people toward or away from God. In this vein, last week I discovered a challenging and encouraging passage that rocked my world! God speaks to King David very powerfully about the effects of leadership! 2 Samuel 23:3-4, "The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: 'When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.' In essence God is saying, "when a leader has the fear of God and a passion to lead in a way that honors the Lord, he will bring light to his followers and growth to things he touches." The bible gives us constant reminders of the significance of the call to lead. We should take it seriously and be reminded that our decisions effect every one of our followers. The standard is raised when the baton of leadership is placed in your hand!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

South Bay weekly update

Don't miss week 2 of the Losing My Religion series this Sunday @ 10:30am

Start of Small Group Sign Ups from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Morning Download

The dust has settled from church yesterday. I am still in amazement of what God is doing in our midst. I really want to give such incredible praise to Jesus for His awesome work at South Bay Church!

Here are just a couple of highlights of yesterday:
* Highest non-Easter attendance to date, 221 people showed up for our church service. There was such a great energy in the service and great number of first time guests.
* We had over 20 people indicate that they were first time guests. A met a ton of people for the very first time! Most of these were from people who had invited their friends. This was so exciting to me to see the numbers of people who are bringing their friends to church!
* 3 people made a first time decision to follow Christ! Best number of the day!!!
* Our volunteers were incredible in creating an environment where people felt welcomed! Our greeters, ushers, hospitality team, Bay Kid's workers and audio tech team all kicked butt and worked with great attitudes!
* Kicked off our Losing My religion series looking at the story of the "2 Lost Sons" - Luke 15
* Talked about how religion blinds us and causes us to think God owes us something.
* You don't have to be a church going person to be blinded by religion!
* Everyone of has been impacted in some way by "religious experiences"
* Jesus wants us to lose our religion to that we can really experience relationship with Him.
* In the story of the 2 lost sons both sons had wronged the father equally, but the older son's pride kept him from receiving the lavish love of the father.
* Does pride in my life keep my from recognizing my need from God's amazing grace?

Thank you to all of you who work so faithfully in this church. Yesterday we had close to 50 volunteers serving in some form or fashion. Some serving all day from 7am-1pm giving their whole day for this vision of reaching the Silicon Valley with the good news about Jesus! Today we have a group of people in the South Bay offices following up with each first time guest! So many of you invited your friends. I am so proud of you! It is a real honor to be your pastor and to be a part of this church. I am more excited now than ever about what God is doing here and what he will continue as we believe Him for even great things!

God is doing so much @ southbaychurch! I can't wait to see what He does as this series continues. I really want to encourage you to bring your friends and make sure you make it for week 2 as we continue the series! Let's see what happens in our lives when religion dies! The best is yet to come!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Power of Your Invite!

Last Sunday was one of the great days in the history of South Bay Church!! We had over 215 people in attendance and we challenged everyone to invite 3 friends to the kick off of the "Losing My Religion" series this Sunday! We strongly believe in the power of a simple invite and it's potential changing a human life. I want to encourage you to do whatever you can to get your friends to South Bay Church this Sunday. This is going to be one of the greatest days in the history of our young church!!! We are expecting more people and more changed lives than ever.

I want to issue this challenge: don't come alone to South Bay Church this weekend! Will you pray with our team that God would do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine? Will join the vision of expecting BIG things from a BIG GOD? Can't wait to see you this Sunday @ 10:30am.

Remember, "will you go to church with me this Sunday?" Could radically change a friend's life! Go ahead and do it! Can't wait to see you this Sunday!

Losing My Religion begins this Sunday! from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Go to for more details.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Boundaries and Discipline

I find it interesting how few people have clear boundaries in their lives. Boundaries with work, boundaries with family and boundaries with relationships. So I often I find that rather than taking control of our schedules, our appointments and our finances we let those things take control of us. Consequently we can find ourselves living in the tyranny of the urgent without a clear sense of purpose! Stacie and I have a few boundaries that we've set in place in our lives that help us enjoy life and family more.

Here are just a few:
1. We always take one day off per week! During the summer we did Mondays due to schedules, starting this week we switch back to Fridays. I don't schedule appointments or answer my cell phone on those days. (except from our staff @ southbay) We go to the park, starbucks, take naps, watch movies and just have some downtime. This is one of my favorite days of the week.
2. We always have one date night each week. We do Thursday or Friday night. The Santos family and us swap babysitting. This is one of the best systems in our lives! I don't talk on my cell phone during that time and Stacie and I focus on our relationship with each other.
3. We operate by a budget. We have predetermined categories and determine how much money money we can spend and in what categories.
4. We set aside time every morning for bible study and prayer. This helps tune our hearts to God.
5. We are currently in the middle of a workout called p90x. This is six days a week in the mornings. It requires us to get up real early!
6. Bedtime- we try to get to bed every night by like 9:30pm. This helps us be able to get a good nights rest and be up by 5:00am for workout.
7. Boy's Club- every Saturday morning Caedmon and I have a time called Boy's Club. We go to Peet's coffee and the playground. It is such a great way for us to connect and build our relationship.
8. Scheduling- I keep a pretty tight schedule each week. I plan my week before it starts and have certain times that I am available to meet with people. If people who want to meet cannot meet during the times that are available we shoot for the next week. This is a great way to help me stay sane!

We believe that these areas of our lives don't happen accidently. I am so thankful for a wife who values being disciplined and having boundaries in her life. When we get off from these boundaries our life tends to become less balanced. We always want to check and make sure that we are on track in these areas!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections

Today was an incredible day for us at South Bay Church! One of our best days we've had yet. Here are a couple of the highlights of the day;
* Concluded our Illuminate with a message titled "Radiant Sharing" from Mark 2;1-12.
* Had 217 people in attendance. We were praying for over 200 next Sunday. God answered the prayer early.
* Last Sunday outside, next week we go back into the gym at Don Callejon. So excited about that.
* Had over 40 people busting their tails to make the last day of this series a hit. Our team does such a great job giving of themselves for this vision. I have such deep gratitude to the many hands that make it happen.
* BayKids had a record number of kids... 46: Our BayKids team is doing an incredible job creating a top notch experience for kids. I am proud of you guys!
* We had dozens of people who came for the first time today. Many from mailers, invites and the web. I think that our mailers got there a little early, which hopefully means many people will respond next week when they get the mailer.
* Talked about the 4 friends who carried the paralytic man to Jesus, they showed tremendous levels of urgency! What if we showed that kind of urgency to get our friends to Jesus?
* Amazing to think of the fact that the four friends carried their friend to find Jesus, took him up a ladder and dug through a roof all to get their friend in the presence of Jesus... Our challenge is just to invite our friends to hear about Jesus! Much easier!
* Challenged every person to bring 3 friends next week. Many people took my challenge to heart.
* So excited about "Losing My Religion" starting this Sunday. Can't wait to see what God is going to do. I am praying that God would blow us away with this next series and move tremendously in our midst!
* Lots of work to do this week getting ready for South Bay's Fall Kick off Next Sunday! Don't miss it, bring a friend, it's going to be huge!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Musings on Starting Churches

Overly the last three or four months it seems like I've had conversations with almost one church planter each week. After getting our church of the ground I get a lot of questions about the church planting process and often guys are looking for the "secret sauce" for starting churches. There are reasons that some new churches do well and reasons why others do not. I wanted to share some thoughts on this over the next few weeks for all of my friends who are thinking about starting churches.

Reasons new churches don't succeed:
1. Wiring of the leader planter: often times I meet guys who are trying to lead a church plant and they are not wired to be the lead guy. This is a combination of gifting, character and personality. There are several key gifts I think are absolutely essential: leadership and teaching. When the person in charge can lead and teach the whole organization will fare better. People want to follow a vision and they want to follow someone who is going somewhere. People without the leadership gifting fail to rally the troops and fail to inspire a common vision among people. We've all worked for or been around someone who is trying to lead and isn't wired in that way. It is painful for everyone. Now, I think everyone can become a better leader. In fact, 10 years ago i would not have thought of myself as being a lead pastor especially by age 22 (age I became a lead pastor)...

A couple of questions to determine if you are the lead person:
* Do people typically nominate you to be the leader in group settings. I know a lot of church planters who were presidents of their student government in high school/college or captains of their sports teams growing up.
* Are you comfortable being in charge without allowing it to go to your head? Are you able to cast vision to people and see them get excited?
* Do you find other strong leaders looking to you for wisdom, direction or advice?
* What kind of people naturally follow you? Are they the kind of people that others follow?

On the teaching side of things!! I think it is possible to get a church off the ground by the grace of God and a strong leadership gift. I think that for sustained moment in a new church it is very helpful to have a teaching gift. Let's be honest, most great communicators were pretty rough when they started. One way to identify if you have a teaching gift is to ask others who are developed communicators to listen to you and evaluate if they think you have the ability to teach.

A couple of other questions to think about:
* Do you see life in terms of teaching? When you learn something do you regularly find yourself thinking of sharing that with other people?
* Are you able to sort through lots of information and determine the essentials of that body of information without getting overwhelmed?
* Do people change when you teach/preach? Have you seen God use you through teaching to change people's lives?
* What do other gifted communicators say about your preaching and teaching?

There are several other skills that I find to be present in many good lead guys I interact with:
1. Willingness to go alone. This doesn't mean you aren't a team player, it just means that you are the first one willing to jump!
2. Ability to confront problems and problem people. Do you deal with people who are out of line with the vision or do you brush it under the rug hoping it will go away?
3. Teachability/Humility- are you willing to admit your mistakes, ask questions about things you don't know and confront areas of your life that need to change.
4. Discernment- I find that a lot of strong leaders have a keen ability to know what is going on in every level of their organization in uncanny ways. I think this is a gift and a skill that comes from paying attention to what people say and knowing how to ask probing questions.

These are some things to think about if you sense God leading you to start a church...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where is my boast?

2 Corinthians 10:17-18
"But, 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends."

I often have an internal battle when it comes to wanting to boast in my work and what I can produce with my hands. Let's just be real honest, I think this stems from insecurity in our hearts. I want people to think I am bigger than I am, more effective than I am or a better leader than I am. Unfortunately when I boast in myself I am taking away praise for God and revealing my immaturity of character. When God moves through my life and impacts others, I should let my boast be in what he has done through me rather than what I can produce myself. I think that it is a struggle as a young leader to want to commend yourself. I think that this flows from a desire for approval. Paul very clearly says, it is the one the Lord commends who will receive approval. Questions to ponder: what would it look like for me to boast in the Lord today? What things has God done through my life that I need to keep quiet about? What insecurities in my heart manifest themselves as pride and hinder my love for God? How can I honor others and praise God as he moves in and around my life and ministry?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why I don't blog more, Why I should blog more~

Recently I've had a very hard time keeping up my blog or my twitter. I read so many other church planters and pastors who are so on top of this thing and I realize my social networking insufficiencies. When I blog, twitter or facebook it is always requires some level of discipline on my part. I would use the excuse that I am extremely busy, but at the same time I know lots of guys who are more busy than I am and they do a great job keeping up their blog. After a conversation with a big social media guy today I am challenged to re-emphasize blogging and stay on top of twittering my life. This got me to thinking more extensively about reasons for blogging and reasons for not blogging.

So here we go:

Reasons I don't blog more than I do:
1. A lot of what I would like to say is being said by other leaders.
2. I have a strong tendency towards being prideful. My flesh really struggles with pride at times and lots of posting can really feed this pride. It makes me feel like I am a lot bigger than I really am.
3. I think about blogging things or tweeting things too far after the fact. I think 2-3 hours too late and think, "I should have tweeted that"
4. I don't get cell phone reception in many places. (yes I have an iPhone, and yes I live in the Silicon Valley)
5. There is something to be said for being shaped in the private places. I am only 28 years old, I am so new in ministry. I don't want to short circuit character training through trying to act more public than I really am.
6. I have a hard time keeping up with my responsibilities as I focus on the church. Sometimes the requirements of the church and being a husband and a father take all of my time and I end up putting this kind of stuff on the "c" list. It doesn't get done and becomes a choice or a discipline.
7. It takes me a really long time to write a blog. I am sure I could get faster if I did it more often!

With that being said I have been challenged by some friends and here are some reasons I need to be more consistent:
1. People in the South Bay area read blogs and tweets.
2. Social media is the future of learning, marketing, communication and much more.
3. God has put things in my heart that need to be shared.
4. I can minister to and help a lot of people just through sharing my life on-line.
5. I live in the technology hub of the world!

I think that is about all I have to say about that!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How people see their leader

I am currently leading two men's groups, one on Tuesday and the other on Wednesday mornings at 7:30am. I selected 6 guys in our church with leadership potential and hunger for growth. This combined with a small group one night a week, preaching, leading our staff, plus connecting with new people is proving to be too much. I am working to shift my mornings to be more focused on message prep. I was sharing this with one of my men's groups discussing the possibility of moving our meeting to the afternoon for the sake of my schedule and sanity! One of the guys made a comment that made me have so much more respect for him. He said, "bro, if you need to just do one group we can continue on and you can focus on the other group, we want you as our leader to stay healthy." This is the kind of attitude every senior leader wants to have on their team.

Here is something I was thinking about after that conversation. Every leader like Ed Young, Andy Stanley, Bill Hybels, Craig Groeschel has people who have: been with them from the beginning, jumped on mid train, and left mid train. When I think of Ed Young it is hard to think of him apart from thinking about Fellowship Church. When I think of Bill Hybels I will always simultaneously think of Willow Creek. I think that this is the right way to see these men because what has flowed out of their lives is merely an extension as who they are at their core of their being. Their vision was there in their hearts before it ever became a reality. Often people from the leader's inner circle struggle when things grow and access changes. They would rather have their pastor burnout than lose access. There are other guys on the other hand like the guy from my men's group who is more concerned about building the kingdom and their pastor staying healthy! I want to be surrounded by guys who are excited about our church reaching more people. I want men who can think big enough to allow my leadership style to shift even if that means they don't get to spend as much time with me. These are the kind of people you end up wanting to spend time with because they understand leadership and the kingdom and have a heart for more than just being friends with the pastor!

May God give our team and I the grace to shift our style of operation as He gives us more influence in His Kingdom!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Sacrifice of Praise

I am so proud of my wife Stacie for her willingness to share from her pain and trust God during a difficult season of life. Stacie and I have been trying to get pregnant with child #2 for almost 2 years. We know this is all a part of God's plan and we trust His timing, but it is also very painful. In sharing this story Stacie and I desire to minister from our challenges with the hope that someone will be encouraged to trust God no matter what the circumstances. I love you babe! I couldn't be more proud to call you my wife! I am a blessed man.

Peace from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections

We had a very jammed packed weekend at South Bay Church. It started with a group of 24 people from Lake Pointe Church and Rush Creek church arriving on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.

Here are some highlights from the 4th weekend:
* Mission Teams hung 6,000 door hangers in two days.
* Close to 10,000 total evangelistic touches were made.
* Over 50 volunteers representing South Bay served at the City 4th of July festival. The team represented Jesus well by serving with humility and a "happy heart"! Thank you for building a great name for the church and for the gospel in our community.
* Gave away literally thousands of beach balls, balloons, and kids prizes at festival on the 4th! Seemed like people were having a blast! It was a great first connect with South Bay Church.
* We received a personal email from one of our city officials today thanking South Bay for serving at the festival. It is such a great joy to know that God can use us to bless our community!
* Started Life Apps series. Our team did a great job with staging and all the elements that went into the look. I am extremely proud of this series because everything from set elements to publicity was done by our volunteers and staff. Good job gang!
* 185 people in worship today! This includes 28 from Mission Teams. I am still encouraged by the 157 from our community on the 4th weekend. I am praying that God helps us continue to build momentum throughout the rest of the summer.
* Message on peace today. Talked from Philippans 4. It was great to be speaking again after a four week break! Talked about God's desire for us to lay our burdens at His feet. Everybody was given a brick when they walked in. At the end of the service we encouraged everyone to give that brick to God and lay it on the altar.
* We don't experience peace in the big areas of life because we fail trust God in the small things of life. We have to start trusting God with what is in front of us right now.
* Stacie shared about a testimony of our struggles getting pregnant a second time. Stacie did this via video. I am very proud of her for her courage to share her pain and minister through the difficulty our family has been facing! She talked about how God has given her peace in the midst of this!
* We are making tremendous progress as a team and as a church. It is a real honor to serve Jesus and to be a part of His kingdom! We have some areas to really grow and improve, but I must say that I am encouraged by all that God is doing and I am reminded that the best is ahead!
* Looking forward to next week as we talk about courage!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Life Apps begins this Sunday!

Have you ever wished you could just download certain characteristics into your life? Wouldn't it be nice to have more peace, courage, wisdom, integrity and self-control? You're invited to join us over the next five weeks as we discover practical truths from the Bible for adding desired attributes to our lives.
July 5- The Peace App
July 12- The Courage App
July 19- The Wisdom App
July 26- The Integrity App

Meeting Sunday's @ 10:30am at Don Callejon School. Click here for directions.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Reflections (on Monday)

We had another great weekend @ South Bay Church. Just wanted to dump my thoughts online.
* Finished up our one prayer series with a message from Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. Great message about God's greatness and God's goodness. Had several people in tears after the service telling me how much God spoke to them. I am amazed at how technology and videos can be used to make an impact.
* Summer has hit... Seems like some regulars are becoming irregulars, but I am confident we can still gain momentum during the summer. We had 136 in worship, which is about 40 below where we were 2 weeks before this Sunday.
* Amazed again with our volunteers. I went to church at 7am this sunday to experience our set-up process. Archie has done a great job organizing everything... I am just blown away with our volunteers. They are contagious. I was in tears in my car later that morning thanking God for our team. I love our team! You guys rock.
* Worship set was great- Archie rocked the house. Seems like the band improves every week. it is neat to see God move through the music and touch people's hearts.
* Glad I am preaching this week. The break for a few weeks was nice but I am glad to be back at it. We start the Life Apps series this Sunday, I am talking about downloading peace into our lives!
* Praying that God would make this next series on of our best yet and that next week we would see a ton of new people from all the publicity. We are serving at the 4th of July festival which is a huge opportunity for us as a church. Please keeep taht in your prayers.
* 4 people made a first time decision to follow Christ this Sunday! That is incredible. We now have like over 60 people who have decided to follow Christ in the last year. This is my favorite part of ministry!
* I love South Bay Church! It is an honor to be the pastor of this church. I am excited about what God is going to do through this church in the coming days. The best days are ahead. Let's keep believing God to do great and awesome things in our midst.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One Prayer Update

Hey Guys,
I just wanted to give you a quick update on One Prayer! Hope you enjoy.

One Prayer and Small Groups Update from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

To sign up for a small group click here. Can't wait to see you on Sunday!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Finishing Strong

Today I was shocked as I read the story of a church planter who fell morally in an extra marital affair. A young guy, probably close to my age, I don't know him personally but know of his church. He started a church successfully that grew to over 1,000 people in just five years. There were literally thousands of lives changed by this man. Right now my heart is breaking for him and his family. It makes tremble and makes me sick to my stomach. It scares me to think that a young pastor with such passion and fire fell so quickly. It scares me as I realize that God doing great things through your life does not make you exempt from grip of temptation. The human heart is deceptive and has the capacity to be lured away from that which is most significant and important in life and in the kingdom of God. I pray almost every day that God would help me finish this race strong. Today my prayer is amplified. I want my zeal and passion for Christ to grow throughout the years, I want my love and commitment to Stacie, Caedmon and our future children to continue to develop each year. At the same time, I realize that none of this is a guarantee for my life. I am not exempt from temptation, I have to consistently make choices to protect my heart, to live with integrity even in the small choices and to honor God when no one else is looking. Here is the other thing... If I have to forgo short term fruit in ministry to finish strong I will choose that. If I am not able to handle great success at this point I would rather have a ministry that builds slow and steady over the years than flash out quickly. I am not at all saying I don't want to be as fruitful as possible and impact as many lives as God will have for me to impact... I am saying that I want my character to be able to sustain whatever blessings of influence God sends my way. I make a fresh commitment to living with teachability, humility, and servant leadership in order that I might finish strong. I recommit myself to the vision of loving my wife and my family so that the kingdom of God deeply impacts my home. I recommit myself to developing my personal life so that I finish the strong. I recommit myself to the vision of reaching the SF Bay for Christ while keeping my soul. I am praying for this man who fell and God's amazing grace to restore him and minister to his family and church. I am praying that God would remind this man of His deep love for us in the midst of our sin. I am praying that God would help this church maintain its vision and find hope for the future.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One Prayer Starts on Sunday!

We are kicking off a brand new series called "One Prayer" this Sunday June 7 @ 10:30am. We will be joining with over 1,600 churches across the country to do a 4 week series on the character of God. Each week we will look at one expression of who "God is..." I believe this is going to an incredible four weeks for South Bay Church. I would like to ask several huge favors of you... First, please make the extra effort to join us for the kick off the series. I think it will be a huge inspiration and encouragement to your life. Secondly, I would encourage you to bring a friend with you this weekend to experience what God is doing in our midst at South Bay. Finally, please be in prayer with me and for me about this Sunday asking God to move in great ways in our midst!!! We are expecting this to be one of our biggest and best weekends yet!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In you, then through you.

Recently I was challenged by this thought from Rick Warren, "Everything God does through us flows out of what he does in us." Wow, everything God is doing in my life is flowing out of my relationship with Him. I had another mentor who said, "The greatest gift you can give the world is your intimacy with God." That means that God is going to great things in me before he does great things through me. So, this leads me to the thought that God really used to smack me upside the head... :-) I felt a very clear prompting from God's Spirit with this thought, "what if you spent as much time thinking about the growth of your character as you think about the growth of the church?" That kind of hurts doesn't it. I think God used this to renew my hunger to continue to pursue the growth of my character and private life with God. My pursuit of God and the health of my personal life is never a waste of time and energy. If I am connecting with God and growing in faithfulness to Christ my outer life is going to be an expression of that inward transformation. As I allow Jesus to change my heart, my character, my thinking, I will be more fit to be used by Him to do great things in His kingdom!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do I really believe this?

Ephesians 1:18-20, I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

Could you just read that one more time. Think about what this verse is actually saying to those who are Christ followers. The Apostle Paul is praying that this group of Christ followers would have opened eyes to understand the power that is theirs. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available. Think about that for a second... Every moment throughout the day today there is available to you the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. For your relationships, for your confusion, for your pain, for your momentary lapses of weakness with your flesh. The power of the resurrection is there right in front of you... All you have to do was open your eyes to see it! This power is incomparable, it is unmatched! Imagine how this would change our homes, our churches, our cities, our world if we all started living this out and opened our eyes to the truth that God's power is available right now, the power that raised Jesus from the dead! I am really wanting to have such an increased awareness of His presence throughout my day. He is with me as much as the skin on my bones. May I have the eyes to see Him and commune with Him throughout the day!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't mess this one up!

Today I had a thought during a conversation with our staff. "The organization/institution of the church exists to serve the gospel and not the other way around." The whole reason for an organization or institution is to serve the mission of that organization. Every system, structure, strategy, plan, goal, budget, staff, and program is there merely to accomplish the mission of that organization. The mission of our organization is to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth and make passionate followers of Jesus who say yes to God with their whole lives. Whenever we start to make the mission slave to the organization we have missed it! Whenever we sense the prompting and leadership of the Spirit of God and can't move that direction because our organization won't allow it we have a BIG PROBLEM! This is the reason we have so many dying churches and denominations, because they became about the protection of their institution and organization. Whenever a Christian organization starts to propagate its institutional agenda over the gospel it starts to head towards extinction. I don't want to be the kind of leader or church who is always trying to push some kind of organizational agenda on people every conversation I have. I want to be the kind of leader that is radically in love with Jesus where the potency of my life is contagious. I want every conversation and interaction to be about challenging people one step closer to living God's best for their lives. I don't want to be the kind of leader who looks at every person and thinks, "how can I get this person to accomplish ___________ task for me?" I want to be the kind of leader that looks at people and sees the potential God has placed in that person and inspire it out of them!!

One more thought and I will get off my soapbox for the day, every organization must consistently and constantly be renewed around its mission. The organizational values drive the change of structures and systems, while heading in alignment towards a vision that is God given and centered around the Great Commission given by Jesus to his disciples! Let's renew ourselves to the cause of the gospel and getting this message to the ends of the earth. Let's build our churches, our businesses, our families, and our man made institutions around the cause Jesus has already given to us and not give up and till we finish the call!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Purpose Driven Summit

This week I will have a huge opportunity to be a part of a teaching team leading a breakout at the Purpose Driven Summit at Saddleback Church. Three other guys: Ron Sylvia, Hal Mayer, and Dave Page and myself will teach a course on planting churches from scratch. This is a huge honor for me for several reasons: these guys have been in vocational ministry longer than i've been alive, they all three have mentored in many ways, and rick warren is one of my heroes. I was very humbled when Ron asked me to help with this event several months back. If you read my blog and pray please pray for me. Pray that I don't make a fool of myself next to these giants. Pray that God would help me be an encouragement to some guys who are about to start churches, pray that I could share our story and what we've learned passionately and represent Jesus well, pray that God's Spirit would really bless this seminar we are leading. It is amazing to me to think that a number of the nations next church planters will be in this room! I also want to use any influence I have to honor these men who I am teaching with. They have really paved a path for many other church planters.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections (on monday)

* Preached the toughest message I've preached in my life. Tried to address the truth about Jesus being the only way to God very lovingly, compassionately, truthfully with hope and conviction. Preached my guts out. Glad I was faithful to the message God laid on my heart, exhausted because I felt like I was in a fight all week getting ready for the message. (pastors you know what I mean)
* Today I am as grateful as ever that Jesus made a way for us to know God and crossed the great expanse to take on human flesh. Amazed that he loves me enough to leave his throne in heaven and be born into a virgin's belly.
* Worship attendance was 147 today. Seems like we have leveled out around 150 after Easter. Lots of new faces coming and many people don't normally go to church. We are reaching the people we moved across country to reach. Glad to see people's lives change.
* Met a good number of new people today. We are having a steady flow of first time guests, this is a good healthy thing. Proud of our people for inviting their friends and those who are intentionally spreading the word to our community.
* Great worship set today that really fit with the message. Archie did a great job selecting songs that fit the essence of the message I shared today.
* Showed Oprah in church today. Said that we are going to watch Jerry Springer next week. Was just kidding! Looked on five fatal assumptions we make about the questions is Jesus the only way:
1. What the majority believes is truth.
2. All religions are the same.
3. Jesus came to propagate a religion.
4. We can ascend to God.
5. God doesn't care.
When we clear up erroneous conclusion to these statements we find out what Jesus really meant when he said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Message should be posted in the next few days if you want to listen.
* Was greeted at South Bay by the best parking lot guys in the world. We have some of the best volunteers. They make coming to church a joy. I am really honored to be the pastor and leader of such an amazing team of people.
* Thought a number of times in the last week how grateful I am that God has given us a staff of men and women who believe in the vision God has placed in my heart. I don't have to fight them to take ground for the kingdom. They are all passionate about reaching the SF Bay Area and people who are far from God. This is a real blessing to me.
* Our team laid hands on me this morning during our tech run through, this was a huge boost to me. Felt like God really used people's prayers to strengthen me while teaching this morning.
* Teaching at the Purpose Driven summit church planting breakout session this week. Looking forward to teaching with some great guys: Ron Sylvia, Hal Mayer, and Dave Page. It is my first time doing something like this and a real honor. Please pray for me!
* Glad I have such a wonderful wife who has a heart to build the kingdom of God and loves our church. She amazes me with her support and desire to see God's love extended the ends of the earth.
* Went to Freedom Summit on Friday night, 27 million slaves world wide, half are children. The church must act and get involved in God's work of justice all over the world. I feel like we are seeing God birth a movement of justice in our generation. Don't want to miss what it is that God wants to do in our midst.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Oprah thinks about Jesus

Thought this was pretty interesting video. Undoubtedly Oprah is one of the most influential people in the world. Here is what she thinks about the question... Is Jesus the only way? Come to South Bay tomorrow as we discuss some fatal assumptions we make about this question. I will post my message outline here tomorrow after the service.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Early to bed! Early to Rise!

I am learning a new little trick about life. I am dense so sometimes it takes me longer to figure things out and this one might be a little obvious but it is helping me so I am going to say it! :-) So, I've timed my morning routine, for me to have a good quiet time, workout, pray, eat breakfast, shower and get ready it takes me 2.5 hours without any wasted time from wake-up to the office. About one hour for quiet time, 45 minutes for workout, 15 minutes for breakfast, 22 minutes for getting ready and about 7 minutes from the door of my house to the door of the office. Do I sound anal? Well, I want to be to the office by 8:00am each morning so that I can get home with my work done by 5:30pm. Two days a week I meet with some men from South Bay Church at 7:30am. All of this to say, in the past I would get up at 5:30 and kick myself because I couldn't do it more than 3-4 days in a row. I am learning that a part of my morning routine is really protecting my evening routine. So this means that after Caedmon is put to bed at 8pm Stacie and I spend the next 20-25 minutes getting everything for the next morning ready. Clothes for work day laid out(for me), coffee grounded and ready to go, workout clothes laid out, faces washed and teeth brushed (yes I brush my teeth before bed). After that I have about 30 minutes or so that I can either read a book, pray, watch an episode of the office or talk with Stacie. If I don't protect my nights I am in trouble for disciplining myself in the morning. If I am rigorous about my evenings it is much easier to be disciplined with the start of my next day. I want to also say, there is a difference between being disciplined and legalistic. This is not legalistic, because I am doing it out of a desire to honor God and make the most of my week and my life! Anyways, may seem overly simple but this line of thinking is helping bring discipline to my mornings and my desire to honor God with my time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Urban Legends

This Sunday at South Bay Church we launch a brand new series titled, "Urban Legends." Thanks to Pastor Craig Groeschel and we as a new church plant were able to use their graphics and a ton of their sermon ideas to help us connect with our community.

Here is a short description of the series:
Do you know someone who's seen Bigfoot's tracks? What about Nessie in Loch Ness? Of course, almost every kid has learned that there really are alligators in the sewer. You know how it goes: someone sees something and tells someone who then tells someone else. On and on and on it goes until it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. This doesn't just happen with alligators and Bigfoot... it happens with spiritual truths as well. Join us as we separate fact from fiction and debunk spiritual myths.

I am excited about this Sunday as we deal with the question: "Is Jesus the only way to God?" This is a very controversial topic that I think people want answers for. I hope that you will make sure to join us and not miss out on this exciting new series. I believe God is going to do some incredible things in our midst over the coming weeks.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Staying Fresh

I find one of the biggest challenges to a busy life is staying fresh. I recently heard a talk from Rick Warren where he said he, "diverts daily, withdraws weekly, and abandons annually." I found that advice to be extremely helpful but often times I find it hard to disengage my mind with only one day a week off. Like today is Friday my day off. I spend all week running at break-neck speed and than almost come to a halt for my sabbath day. I typically fill my day off with a longer quiet time in the morning, a little longer of a run during my workout, hangout with stacie and caedmon (typically going to a park), lunch at in-n-out, nap in the afternoon, reading after my nap and chill in the evenings either going on a date or watching the santos kids while they go out on a date. I had a conversation this week with a mentor asking him how he disengages and he challenged me to take up the study of great leaders in the past- George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Churchill, Ghandi and others. So today I purchased a copy of 1776 about George Washington's life. Anyways, all of this is a little ramble. I guess the conclusion I am coming to is this, it is very important for me to stay fresh as a husband, father, leader, pastor, friend and more. I want to live passionately for Jesus until the day I die. I think that sustained impact in life will require me to more diligently pursue mental, emotional and physical health.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections

Okay, so the best day in the history of South Bay Church is drawing to a close so before I fall out I wanted to write down some reflections from the day and celebrate what God did in our midst!
* We had our first ever baptism celebration as a church. Everything was built around this celebration from the song choices to the message to the baptisms at the end of the service. We challenged people to step up and be baptized on the spot. 18 people took the plunge!
* It was exciting to me to see people that I have prayed for for months display their faith in Christ. It was so exciting to watch people obey Jesus and respond to him. There were a handful of people in tears as they wrestled with God and then let Him win. This is one of the best things to watch!
* God showed up, I could sense His presence all over the day today from the worship set through the message and during the time of baptism. He flooded the room with a huge sense of His joy. People were clapping and shouting and hollering like the 49ers had just won the super-bowl. It was incredible.
* 169 people total were present, this is the biggest non-easter/non-launch Sunday of local people from our community. It is so exciting to see the church gain momentum coming out of Easter!
* Our staff and volunteer team did a great job planning all of the details of the baptism from purchasing clothes and the transitions during the service. Their hard work made it easy for people to focus on the most important part... changed lives!
* We finished our Upside Down Life series today. My message was strictly about baptism and the change that baptism represents. Next week we will have a special mother's day message and then the following week we will start a series called, "Urban Legends"
* Praise God for all that he did in our midst! I am so proud of the 18 people who responded to God's call to be baptized!! I am attaching a short video with a couple of the stories. There are so many more, but this is just a taste of the lives that are being changed at South Bay!

Baptism 09 from South Bay Church on Vimeo.