BE the church…community makeover 2010

In March of 2008, we decided to try something that we had heard a few churches do. It was a little crazy, but it was exciting. We cancelled our Sunday morning worship gatherings and went out into the community and did ministry/service projects. Honestly, we were looking at something to do on “Daylight Saving Sunday” since attendance was always down dramatically that day. We had heard of a few churches in other areas that had done such a thing, so we prayed about it and thought it through. We had a pretty good turnout and it was an exciting day as our people got out into the community. People in the community were truly blown away. Why would a church actually cancel Sunday services and serve the community? We did get some stares and comments about our t-shirts that said “Don’t go to church…” on the front and “…BE the Church” on the back. (I still love wearin that shirt around town!)

The funny thing was, two weeks before that weekend, I ran into Brian Bloye at WestRidge Church and he told me about an idea of getting all the churches in the county to cancel Sunday services and do ministry projects in the community. I said, “Shut up! We are doing that in two weeks!” Well, it appeared that God was up to something as He was putting the same thing on different people’s hearts. Brian said to let him know how ours went and I later told him how awesome it was. Well, a couple of months later plans were being made for churches to do just what we had done all around our county. It was a bit risky for us to cancel services twice in one year, but we joined in the cooperation and it was amazing! That first year, 8 churches participated and did a couple of hundred projects. We all gathered for a worship celebration that night in the parking lot of Sam’s Club in Hiram and had nearly 5000 people there! It was truly awesome!

2009 Community Makeover Celebration

Last year we saw 35 churches from not only Paulding County but Cobb County as well. Somewhere close to 400 ministry projects were done in our area. That Sunday evening close to 10,000 people gathered in the parking lot of Sam’s Club for an amazing worship celebration! God was moving and out of that came a non-profit organization called Engage Atlanta that would serve our community in many ways, including during the flooding of 2009.

That brings us to 2010 and THIS WEEKEND! Beginning tomorrow (and in some cases today) 80 churches are to be involved in doing hundreds of ministry projects throughout our community….Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! It is going to be so exciting to see what God does through His church as we get beyond the walls of our buildings and the borders of our campuses and touch people where they are by ministering to real needs…some of people who are part of the body of Christ and others who are not. We’ll be on the campuses of virtually every school in our county. We’ll be at community parks and ball fields, in the homes of widows and single moms, reaching out to families who have a member deployed with the military, in neighborhoods, shopping centers, along streets, community centers, non-profits, wherever there are needs.

We at The Ridge will not have our regular worship gatherings on Sunday, but we WILL be at Austin Middle School on Ridge Road (our regular meeting place), so you can show up on Saturday AND Sunday morning at 9AM and help out.  (even if you haven’t signed up yet)We need plenty of extra hands. If you can make it, come on! Look for our Summer Intern, Cris Jackson, and he will get you connected with a project. We will be at two other schools, ball parks, homes in the community, commuity centers as well. If you are attending another church in our area, check with them, they likely are involved!

Ridgers, DON’T FORGET to be at your project Saturday morning and Sunday monring. THEN remember to gather at 7PM behind the Starbucks and in front of Marshall’s in Hiram for an amazing worship celebration with the wole community. I’d get there early too! Bring your own chairs and you can even plan to tailgate with your family! What a weekend this is gonna be!

Sunday Recap 7-18-10

It was a great day @ the Ridge following a great week. This past week was our Family Fusion Conference. Each night M-F we gathered with 23 families from The Ridge for a meal, family fun activities, family devotions, family worship, kids clubs and youth groups and adult study sessions. Stephen Kendrick, writer and producer of the Flywheel, Facing The Giants, and Fireproof movies; as well as the Love Dare book and the new movie Courageous (set to be released next year). I have known Stephen for 10-12 years and I have been so excited to see how God is using he and his brother Alex to impact the world for the Kingdom. We were very blessed that Stephen and his wife Jill and their kids were with us for Family Fusion.

Normally we have done Family Fusion as a camp, but this year we had to cancel the camp because of the school calendar changes. So, we decided to try to do Family Fusion as a conference. It worked very well too. Stephen did a fantastic job of teaching and Wendell Brewton (our Family Pastor) and his team did an awesome job of leading and putting the whole thing together. We had a phenomenal group of volunteers who tirelessly served this week too. Major props to all of those guys and gals!

Today we could difinitely tell we were in the heart of summer! Wow…I have been amazed at how many people have been gone seemingly all summer long! If you are a Ridger and you are missing this current series, you are missing out on some good stuff! We were in part 2 of our Dot2Dot series today. We spoke today about “Connecting The Dots For Generations”. Looking at Genesis 17:1-10 , we saw God’s plan for establishing a heritage in Abraham by first establishing a covenant with him…giving him a new identity. That heritage was to never be forgotten and was to be passed on for generations: Psalm 78:1-11  The result of that was a legacy…an eternal legacy.

God has a generational plan. His picture is not about you and I in the here and now. We are dots that He wants to connect for generations. We can so be focused on the present that we forget the past and we don’t look to the future and what God wants to do in and through us to shape another generation.

What we need to see is that God wants to establish a legacy…something that will live on beyond us. Now, who doesn’t want to have a legacy? A good, positive legacy?

 God was setting Abraham, and ultimately all of his descendants, apart for His purposes. He gave him the parameters and established a covenant with him.

As I read Sammy Tippett put it once:  Heritage + Identity = Legacy

 Abram was given an identity by God…a new heritage was begun and established which was passed on for generations.

Our heritage (which we have no control over and can be changed) when added to our identity (the choices we make, who we choose to identify with…God or self…who we are shaped into) when added together will create a legacy. We, as believers, should all want to leave a legacy for future generations that is eternal. What do you want your great grandchildren to be like? We must, if we are going to impact another generation that is yet to be born, learn and choose to look at life through eyes that see more than just the accumulation of stuff in this world. Because, you see, even for those of us that are believers, this is what we ultimately are about. A fat retirement account, kids who grow up and marry and have all the nice things that they want…having it “better than we did”…taking it easy at the sunset of our lives…this seems to be what we think of as success. We’ve kinda got a mentality that we just want to coast across the finish line. I don’t want to do that! I want to fall across the line totally spent handing the baton to the next generation who will run with endurance the race God has set out for them…that’s a heritage that is worth passing on. I want to live my life now with eternity in my eyes and on my mind. Heaven is the goal…future generations in heaven is what needs to be on our hearts, not having enough success and stuff in this world. When we embrace our past heritage…and allow God to maybe start a new heritage with us or to pass on the godly heritage that was passed to us…identifying with God through the same covenant as Abraham…allowing Him to set us apart for His purposes…then make wise choices according to God’s word each day with eternity in our sights…then we can trust God for the future..the legacy…through prayer.

The legacy is what God is going to do in the future…we don’t have to try and “build our own legacy” like so many polititians, athletes and celebrities try to do. We just need to identify with Him in a covenant relationship and pass on a godly heritage of faith and leave the future…our legacy… up to Him.

Next Sunday, we are joining over 80 churches for Community Makeover weekend. It is going to be amazing! We at The Ridge are tackling several projects in our community. As a part of this weekend, we will not be having our normal Sunday worship gathering. Just as we have done for the last three summers, we will “not GO to church, but will BE the church” by serving out in the community. If you are a Ridger and didn’t get signed up yet, you can email Cris Jackson, our summer intern who is heading up this project, at crisj@churchattheridge.com . He will get you assigned to a project. Remember, next Sunday we won’t be gathering for worship, but if you show up at Austin Middle School, you’ll find us there! That is one of our Community Makeover sites. Bring your work clothes and a lunch and join us! We’ll be starting at about 9am on Saturday and Sunday. We need more folks, so come on! Then Sudnay evening at 7PM, we’ll be gathering with all the area churches involved at a community worship celebration in Hiram, in the parking lot behind Starbucks and in front of Marshall’s. It’s gonna be amazing!