Why I Love The Church

THE CHURCH – she is worth it.  I mean, she is ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!  The time, the sacrifice, the energy, the baptisms, the births, the marriages, the healing, the miracles, the life long relationships, the friendships…and yes the pain, the brokenness, the addiction, the moral failures, the disappointments, the divorces and the confusion.  SHE IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!  Ever since I was a young boy, my parents exposed me to the greatest and most amazing group of people on the planet, the church.  The opportunity to be a part of a group of people who are showing forgiveness, love, hope, and acceptance, is an incredible privilege and opportunity.  If you have a local church family, don’t throw it away; cherish, nurture, forgive and work hard and fight for her!  She is the bride worth giving your life for.  Bottom line is, people will always struggle with the church and what happens and doesn’t happen, but the journey and difficulties ARE WORTH IT.

 
 “…Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Ephesians 5:25
 
Why is she (the church) #worthit?  Dione’s photo above should explain it enough. Once far from God, then on July 17th in the Delaware river, she was baptized, transformed, saved, restored.   For every difficulty and pain I have encountered, I’ve experienced exponentially more moments like the one above.  ABSOLUTE RESTORATION THROUGH JESUS!  Jesus died for her and watches out for her…so should we.  The enemy however HATES her.  Wants her dead. Wants gossip, despair, pain, and strife and mistrust to ruin her.  But I am choosing to fight for her.  I will fight for the church, she is #worthit.

5 Reasons I Love The Church

 

1. Jesus Sets the Example – If I have an example of how to love, it makes it much more tangible and easier. If Jesus died on the cross for the church, what does that mean for my own commitment and tenacity towards her.  He was crucified to set the example for us of how the people of God, the church, is valuable.  Every person and every opportunity to serve makes a difference.  WOW!  I am humbled by Jesus and his example. 100% #worthit

2. The People are Incredible – I like to say – “The church is at its best when things are at their worst.” Have you experienced the love and care of the local church.  Oh man, it is indescribable.  The people are incredible.  Over the last 21 years of pastoring, I have come to know first hand the exceptional gifts, extravagant love, and healing power of the local church.  It really is beyond words.  The church is the best kept secret in our communities and is #worthit.

3. The Potential is Endless – Why?  We have the Holy Spirit, the literal third person of God who comforts, gives wisdom, heals, empowers, and expands possibilities.  It really isn’t us and our power, it’s the power released through us that makes the local church extravagant.  Every day, every Sunday, every time we get together, a miracle could happen, people could gain eternal life, a marriage could get restored and someone could be healed.  No way I am missing this Sunday.  No way I am checking out. #worthit

4. His Will and Purpose Is Accomplished –  To think God wants to use me?  What?  That’s right, you and me to do His will and accomplish his plan.   If your church is going through a difficult time right now, “double down” on your commitment towards her.  Those who stick it out reap the rewards of the satisfaction of loyalty and commitment to the glory of God.  Even when it seems like nothing good is coming from a situation, anticipate and watch because God is redeeming the situation and something big is about to happen.

5. The Privilege is Beyond Words – Sometimes I have to take a step back on any given Sunday as I look around a room and see people worshiping and I’m speechless.  When I have the privilege of bringing a meal to someone, beyond understanding.  No matter what your role is in the local church, honor the position, pass on the credit, lead with humility, serve with zeal.  Then, sit back and watch in amazement as God actually uses you to rebuild lives and accomplish His plan.

Bottom line – the church is #worthit – If you are encountering difficulty with the church right now, write some reasons below she it #worthit!  Would love to hear from you and encourage you along the way!  

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

How To Build An Unbeatable Team

It’s that time of the year.  Fantasy football drafts are happening everyday!  For those of you who are into fantasy football, the anticipation of the fantasy draft is a lot of fun.  How it works is that you draft players who play for your team on game day and earn points for your team based on how they actually perform on the field.  When they succeed, YOU SUCCEED.  It is good fun but let me ask you a serious question?  If you were to draft a team to help you accomplish your dream for your life and your organization, who would you draft?  I want guys blocking for me that look like this guy…

football dude 8-19

 

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed…”  Proverbs 15:22

Who do you need on your team in order for your dream to happen?  YOU NEED PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU!  You need a diverse team full of people with varying skills and experiences, different ages and personalities, but regardless, you need the best!  In many ways these people will help protect you from yourself.

How To Draft an Elite Fantasy Team

#1 Know Exactly What You Need –  Part of the challenge in getting to where you want to go is knowing how to identify the needs.  You will need to shore up different weaknesses.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish dictates the WHO!  Too many self reliant, prideful people try to accomplish a big vision on their own.  If you want to accomplish a BIG DOG dream you better have BIG DOGS on your team. I want the BEST team possible!  Who is on my team?  Below you will see 4 different goals I have and then WHO is on my fantasy team.  You will quickly see, the WHO IS CRITICAL.

  • Build a Family Together / Summer – Listen, I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to do life alone.  So I found someone to love and take with me together on this ride.  She is my 1st round draft pick EVERYTIME.  I will always choose Summer and my kids over every other goal, dream and possibility.  The church can get another pastor, but I am the only one who can fulfill the role of Dad to my children.  Most important draft pick…spouse.
  • Family Health / Adoption / Bethany Christian Services – We drafted them six years ago to help us fulfill the dream of opening our home to children who need love, health and education.  They are an incredible christian organization focused on putting a dent in fatherlessness, abuse, and the underserved children in the world.  I want their whole team on my team! Sometimes it is a person you need, other times it’s a whole organization.  Now that we have three little boys from Uganda as our sons, we need counselors, teachers and doctors to help us with the unique challenges of adoption.  All are on my dream team!
  • Successfully Grow 217church to HealthDoug & The Dream Team.  Doug is the Director of Ministry of 217church.  Have a question? A problem?  He will help you through it.  I drafted him 7 years ago when we planted the church, and eventually through humility and service, he joined our dream team!  Then there are the other members of our INCREDIBLE dream team.  Jocelyn, Josh & Amanda, Roberto, Tim, Noriel, Rich, Ivannia, Steve & Debbie, our Governing board, our elders, and our small group leaders!  I love you guys. You make it happen. You need people who are running in the same direction passionate about the vision together!
  • Advise Financially and Pay Taxes / Donna – She is the best accountant/ tax professional I know.  She is honest, clear, focused, no nonsense, gold!  Paying your taxes and financial integrity are HUGE issues and you will need help to navigate this.

#2 Stop Making Excuses:   Maybe you feel like, “all the good players are gone.”  This is simply not true. One thing I like to do as a fantasy football player is to find the “diamond in the rough.”  This means finding someone no one else thought had much value and picking them in the later rounds.  Sometimes you choose someone no one else thought had value.  This will take an incredible investment of time and energy, but is worth it.  Sounds like what Jesus did for us!

#3 Cast a Compelling Vision:  If someone were to sign up to be on your team, would they be motivated by the big target on the wall?  Or would your vision be lackluster?  You know you have a God-given vision when God has to show up in order for it to happen!  If you can do it without God and faith, your vision probably won’t be compelling and people will not be inspired.

#4 Get Courage To Ask:  This is where risk comes in.  At some time I had to ask all the people above to be on my team.  For some of them it took longer than others.  Make no mistake about it, when someone comes on your team, you must be committed to serving them.  It’s not about you but the vision.  People want to be a part of something world changing and your job is to give them that opportunity.  Sure you might get rejected, but keep in mind, you don’t want people on your team that won’t be 100% committed to the vision, so let them go.

Building a team is fun, rewarding, but takes a lot of work.  Take time right now and determine what are your biggest needs.  Here are some more ideas for building a fantasy team that will serve you well:

  • Spiritual advisors
  • Confidential friends
  • Legal advisors
  • Physical trainer
  • Nutritionist
  • Health Doctor
  • Contemporaries
  • Tax professionals

 

This Sunday I would love for you to join the 217church team!   We are having a ministry fair and an excellent opportunity for you to connect to God’s dream for your life and our community.

Josh

 

This Sunday September 17 – “His Story” Series Week #1 through the Gospels (Small Groups Launch & Ministry Fair)

October 8  New Service times  -9:30am & 11:00am

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday September 17th 2017 we will have our Fall Launch celebration service.

 

Food Fasting and Faith

We are in a 21 day period of fasting and prayer for with my church, 217church.  Fasting is when you deliberately deprive yourself of something in order to listen to God and understand His wisdom.  As we are studying the book of Daniel, we see fasting and prayer as a valuable regular spiritual practice for those who follow Jesus.  When you fast and pray it is difficult, but has great benefits.  Over the first week of fasting I have gained a few extremely valuable perspectives.

“I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks”  Daniel 10:3 

Three Things I Have Gained From Fasting

1 – Clarity – Wow!  Because I have deprived myself of food I am seeing with greater clarity my own dependance and desires. Some of them are good and some of them not so good.  I can also see with greater clarity steps I need to take and steps for our church as well.  When you are constantly reminded of something you are used to having but can’t, it gives you clarity on what is important.  Do you need clarity from God?  Try #fasting.

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

2 – Focus – As I am fasting, I am more focused in my work, my responsibilities, and my convictions. I am finding I know more what I am supposed to be doing and not doing.  If God can take care of the birds and provide their food, how much more is His provision guaranteed for His church, my family, and those around me?   Do you need focus in your life?  Try #fasting.

“Consider the ravens, they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouses nor barn yet God feeds them.”  Luke 12:24

3 – Courage –  As I sense my dependency shifting, it creates a perfect storm for boldness and courageous decision making, NOT people pleasing or settling for less than God has for us.  Who needs to rise to leadership?  God will call them out.  I am sensing God telling us to move forward and take courageous, bold steps and to believe.  NOT because we see, but precisely because we can’t see.  Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and take courageous bold steps.  Fasting is increasing my faith in His plan for our future as a congregation.   Do you need courage in your life?  Try #fasting.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2

Will you join me in fasting and prayer for these next 14 days?

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

Don’t Forget Who You Are

“I’m a failure.” “I won’t make it.” “I can’t finish this race.” “I can’t pass this class.” “I can’t raise these children.” “I will never get married.” “I don’t think anyone really loves me.” “I’ll never get that job.” “I have made so many mistakes, there is no way God would want to use me now.”  Ever had one of these thoughts cross your mind?  Ever adopted one of these sayings deep into the recesses of your soul?  One of these game changing thoughts that repeats itself in your head so much that you lose sight of hope?  Forgetting who you are is no joke.  It could quite possibly be the cause of most of the pain in our world.

“O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage”  Daniel 10:19

It’s hard to forget your name, but unfortunately it’s rather easy to forget who you are, what you are about and lose your purpose.  Many of us are defined too much by things people say, opinions of others, the amount of money in our bank account, a title on a business card, or even our popularity, status and notoriety in the world.  In our striving to “be somebody”, we have forgotten the point.  You already ARE VALUABLE, and you really don’t have anything to prove. When you forget who you are, you tend to lose your way, make mistakes, say and do things that are out of character.  Your identity CAN’T be wrapped up in the above things.  What are the things that are constant about us as humans that should define us?

Four Things You Have To Remember…ALWAYS

1 – You Are Greatly Loved – This is so real.  So many of us feel unlovable, find our security, self esteem and value in the approval of others, and are in constant performance mode.  This is not necessary.  God loves us, made us with the gifts, looks, and the abilities he wanted us to have.  The process of discovering about ourselves has nothing to do with the consistency of His creativity and passion.  God is Love. Period.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.”  1 Thessalonians 1:4

2 – Fear Not – Anxiety is real, but you cannot add a day to your life through worry and inner turmoil.  Contentment is a hard place to reach but fear is always easily accessible.  You don’t have to be afraid, secure is what you are.  You are not alone, abandoned, and left for dead.  God came and took care of the question of security.  He has it covered.  Don’t forget it.

Fear not, for I am with you;”  Isaiah 41:10

3 – Peace Be With You –  Chaos seems like it is winning, but it is not.  There is an inner struggle and an outward pain in the constant fighting and power struggle in our lives.  We fight for control at work, home, as parents, in our marriages, but we don’t have to.  We can choose to be peaceable.  It is who we are when we choose to follow Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”  John 14:27

4- Be Strong and of Good Courage – Things aren’t always as they seem in the temporal world.  You are probably being deceived in some situation in your life.  You may not feel strong outwardly, but it’s a truth about you that can’t be denied.  When you start to put your faith and trust in a God who created the world, died for you as a man, identifies with your pain, and comforts you in Spirit, You can’t deny your strength.  It is God LIVING in your being.  NOTHING is too difficult for God.  Remember your joy!

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

SO, when are you going to choose to believe who God says you are?  Don’t forget who you are.

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here On Sunday August 6th 2017 we will meet at the Elks Lodge in East Windsor, NJ for our outdoor Summer celebration.

Being A Courageous Dad

What is one of the most serious issues in our culture?  I believe it’s fatherlessness.  Want to make an unmeasurable difference with your limited days?  BE A DAD!  Being a Dad is well, hard.  I’m not complaining, that is just a reality.  So many men bail on being a dad for a variety of reasons, but I am here to tell you it is worth it.  There is nothing quite like loving, caring for, and raising kids to understand what is most important in life.  But let me reiterate, it ISN’T EASY!  To put it bluntly, if you are going to excel at being a dad you are going to have to develop one SIMPLE THING… COURAGE.

 

fathers-day-sign-wp

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”  Psalm 103:13

So what does it take to be a courageous father?  Courage is the art of dependance on God.  The writer of the ancient scripture above states that God is like our father and he shows compassion.  God is a compassionate God and we are to depend on God for EVERYTHING.  Why don’t we have more courage as fathers?  It takes courage to make tough decisions, to stay faithful to one wife for a whole lifetime, to love unconditionally,  to set an example for our children.  Courage is necessary and here is what stands in the way.

What A Courageous Father Must Overcome…

1 – Danger – As dads, so many things threaten our family: garbage content from the media, habits of the world, music that creates crippling mantras, addiction that destroys, friends that use them, and worst of all, the battle for a healthy mind.  For example, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among our children.  We must stand up for them, teach them, discipline, pray and fight for them in every way possible.

“Hear, O sons, a father‘s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight.”  Proverbs 4:1

2 – Distractions – What have you mis-prioritized in your life as a dad?  Does work too often take precedent over time with your children?  Are you too busy saying no and pursuing your own preferences rather than teaching and investing time in your children?  Do you take time and listen, play with and just be with your children?  Have you placed God at the center of your life and are you teaching your children to depend on God?

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”  Joshua 24:15

3 – Disappointments –  Life is full of letdowns, but we must stand up as dads and fight through all the times when we have felt like we got dealt a raw deal.  Maybe it was your dad who failed you?  Be the Dad that you wanted growing up!

“…For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:8

4- Devastation – For some of us it takes courage just to wake up every morning.  We have battled abandonment, addiction, disease, divorce, depression, death of a son or daughter…The list goes on and on.  The good news is, this is why the church exists. This is why Jesus came and set an example for us.  Only He can turn your devastation into meaningful direction.  What is the secret?  Dependence.  When your dependance is unshakable your courage is undeniable.  No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, #Takeheart.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

What else?  What is one way you need to be courageous as a Dad for your family?  I’m choosing #courage fighting for these 7 that God has blessed me with…

connfamily 2016 NY

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

What To Do With A Colossal Failure

You watched the Super Bowl right? The Falcons choked – We have ALL been there – The project fails, we lose the job, the plan goes up in smoke, we break a promise, the spouse is extremely angry with us. Failure happens, but we know failure is going to happen, so what should we do once it happens?

failure

1 – Depend on others – Surround yourself with people who love you.  Now is not the time to just “get over it.” You will probably need some time with some incredibly supportive people. How long? Probably longer than shorter. Being around people who care about you restores your confidence and reaffirms your value.

2 – Disconnect – Now you are ready to get some time alone and go back to your vision. Two key questions to ask as you disconnect. These questions help you to rediscover what on earth you are here for.

  • Why did you start this journey in the first place?
  • What is the single biggest motivating factor in your life?

3 – Dissect – Please DON’T skip #1 and #2. Resist the temptation to go right to the details because you probably aren’t in the right emotional state to handle the truth. If you start here it leads to destructive behavior.

Ok, now you are ready for some details, what went wrong?  Take ownership of the failure and don’t blame. Don’t beat yourself up but be honest with the facts of what happened. Sometimes you won’t know why. Sometimes stuff happens to you. I know it takes courage, but don’t leave the failure, live with it for a while.

4 – Determine Your Next Steps – How will you win the next time?  What thinking needs to be in place? What actions MUST you take? Are there patterns in your life that need to change? Developing a plan is key and you probably need a few of those people in #1 to help you to formulate some new ideas. DON’T go it alone!

5 – Direct Your Life – Implement it! It won’t feel the greatest at first because it probably is a risk. Never forget the feeling of a great loss but don’t allow your impact to be ruled by the pain. As you are directing your life and implementing the plan, here are a few reminders:

  • Share the new vision slowly, not everyone needs to know everything.
  • Take a team of people with you. Once again – Destructive pride is the result of individual accomplishment. Teams build individual humility.
  • Get an outside coach to help you see what you can’t. Having an outside perspective will keep you OUT of a lot of trouble.

Now go get it!

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here.  Josh is also the Executive Coach at Activate Coaching LLC, coaching leaders in all spectrums of industry and non profits to optimum spiritual, family, financial, physical and professional health.  He can be reached at josh@activatecoaching.com. 

You Need A Watchdog

I love dogs and this is Harley, my golden doodle.  She looks out for everyone in the house.  She is flat out AWESOME!  If there is a fight amongst our other dogs, she breaks it up.  If there is a fight among people, she gets between you.  If you come to my door uninvited, well, let’s just say she will let you know she is there.  She is the enforcer, but with a loyal, justice driven motive.  There is something about the qualities she exhibits that reminds me of what we should be for each other as the church.  Who is looking out for you?  Who are you looking out for?

Harley Watchdog

“I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”  Romans 15:1

SO…Who are you looking out for?  Is there another person you feel personally responsible for?  Everyone needs someone to look out for and for someone to look out for them.  This is the definition of what the church should be doing for one another.  This scripture implies also we should believe the best about the motives of one another and be careful not to assume the worst.  We are responsible for one another.  As a matter of fact, there are over fifty “one another’s” in scripture.

How To be a “Watch-dog” and Look Out For One Another…

1. Privately Correct – We are all going to blow it, mess up, make mistakes – say something we shouldn’t say, post a photo we shouldn’t post, act in public in a way that isn’t God honoring.   FOR EXAMPLE – I saw something on Facebook the other day that disturbed me.  It was a public rebuke of what some would consider an “inappropriate photo”  But here was the problem…It was rebuked in a public way by someone, without gentleness and in an embarrassing manner.  More and more I am of the opinion that public social media rebukes are pointless.  The person almost NEVER hears what you are really saying and written harsh communication on a social media channel will almost ALWAYS be misconstrued in some way.  If something someone posts troubles you and you aren’t willing to privately go to them, don’t say anything.  After all, when you love someone enough to say something privately, you are respecting the image of God in them.  Disagree?  private message me, but this verse implies you are just flat out WRONG!

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”  Galatians 6:1

2.  Adamantly Protect – I love it when I know people have my back.  I love it when people who are a part of our church and our small group communities stand up against gossip amongst each other.  I love having someone to protect and having someone protect me.  This is what we are called to do for one another.  If you always have to have your way, you are prideful.  If you are always complaining about a church, another church, or your small group, something is desperately wrong.  The person you just criticized was made in the image of God and is a son or daughter of God.  I love watching the church care and stand up for one another. And one more thing – Please, if you claim to be a Christian – please work out your issues with other Christians in a private matter.  You are destroying the testimony of the church by airing all your complaints.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3

3. Carefully Instruct – Life isn’t easy and we all will get led astray, but we must be allowed to speak into each other’s lives with conviction and passion.  If no one can speak into your life, you have a serious problem.  Quick, name the person who has that authority in your life?  You need someone who is helping you in your marriage, finances, parenting, personal knowledge of the bible, you need a go to person who is doing the good work of discipleship in your life.

“…filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”  Romans 15:1

4. Relentlessly Care – If someone is fighting sickness, battling addiction, struggling in their marriage, facing a loss of a job, desperately alone, hopelessly abandoned, OUR ROLE IS TO WATCH OUT FOR THEM.  Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  Don’t just talk a big game, get in the game and let your life be about caring for the church and those who are your brothers and sisters.  Loyalty matters, take a cue from my Harley. Be a #Watchdog  

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

This past Sunday we had 24 new people said they wanted to commit to the vision of 217church.  They have made a covenant to protect the unity of the church.  I love it.  Jesus died for us so let’s come together and stand together for what he wants to accomplish through us and for what he has promised to us.

Josh

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania that meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Giving Tuesday – How Much Should I Give?

Today is #GivingTuesday and I am thankful for all the people who have given towards the vision of 217church to help rebuild lives in Mercer County, NJ over these past seven years!  All gifts today will go towards helping us buy a piece of land to build a church for the glory of God in Mercer County, NJ.   Click here to GIVE an online gift.  Read more about our Accelerate land vision here.

Do you remember getting your first ever paycheck?  Man what a rush!  Then, sudden frustration towards a guy named FICA taking 7% of my paycheck!  I was a bus boy at a local restaurant and at 14 years of age I felt like I was on top of the world.  Money changes you.  In my family growing up I had watched both my parents and my brother practice giving to my local church.  10% first to God’s work, no questions asked.  It was just what we did, and man am I thankful my family taught me the foundations of a lifestyle of giving.  I think most ALL of us reading this post would agree that we should all be GIVERS.  I mean c’mon!  Especially if you claim to follow the teachings of Jesus there is almost no possible way to claim the lifestyle of a disciple and not be a financial giver.  Now let me be clear, I am not just talking about giving to a local church.  But for anyone who wants to fully follow Jesus, the money under your care MUST point to a acknowledgement and dependance on Jesus.  How you handle money is a way you prove your faith in God.

giving-tuesday-2016

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

There have been so many incredible stories I have experienced both personally and church wide, of people listening to God and giving.  They are too numerous to list here.  Last year over 400 families gave a financial gift to our church.  Easily, that is over 5,000 acts of worship through financial giving.  This is the church in action fulfilling the vision!  Your giving and your handling of the money God has entrusted you with IS a spiritual issue.  But many of us have lived with guilt, frustration and even abstaining from talking about giving habits because of pain, debt, mistrust and let’s be honest, a hard heart.  If this is you the enemy is ripping you off!  So what do I do?

How MUCH Should I Give?

1.  Start Somewhere – Maybe the one “thing” holding back your faith is a reliance on things.  Once you think you rely on things and more of them, your trust in God goes down.  Giving proves you aren’t self sufficient.  If you have never made a gift or it has been a very long time.  It is time to take the first step and make and offering to God.  Ask him to bless it, use it.  be bold and ask God to show you more fully his plan for His money, remember it’s not really yours, you cant take it with you.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20   

WHAT YOU GIVE THE ENEMY CAN’T STEAL.

2.  What God Tells You – What?  Am I listening for the audible voice of God?  Maybe, but for most of us, it won’t happen that way.  The above verse frees us from guilt and compulsion motivations.  Does this mean if someone is tithing it’s wrong?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  What matters is the heart of the giver, not the percentage of the gift.  Our motivation should be to give AS MUCH AS WE POSSIBLY CAN!  Now, that’s probably not something you have prayed lately.  Once we reduce giving to a check box or a legalistic matter, our heart will become corrupted.  We may even think we are better than someone else because we give and they don’t. Be careful though, comparison is NEVER the pathway to spiritual maturity.  Also, don’t let this one be an excuse to rationalize giving less and don’t let the enemy sneak into your budget and steal your blessings with material things!  

WHEN YOU GIVE THERE IS GREAT JOY AND ANTICIPATION.

3.  In Rhythm  –  Often giving in rhythm helps you determine the amount to give.  Did you get paid this week, there is your answer.  Now, talk to God, your wife, your kids, and  give first.  Is 10% your percentage?  I would suggest you are never going to go wrong with that. In Malachi 3 God says “test me.” However often you get paid there should be a moment of reverence when you set aside your gift before the Lord to acknowledge his provision in your life.  You see, every time you get paid is an opportunity for spiritual growth.  Give by cash, Give by check, Give online, Give by text, It really doesn’t matter how, but give in rhythm.  Give as a BOLD declaration of your trust in God to give you more.  You should love getting paid because it means you can NOW give!  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

WHEN YOUR GIVING IS CONSISTENT IT IS A SOURCE OF CLARITY IN YOUR LIFE.

4.  In Faith – Some of us have been tithing for a very long time.  This is a very commendable thing.  Continue to excel in this discipline! Keep going!  It’s incredible what you have done by faith.  Over $4 Million over the life of 217church in the past 7 years!  Now, I have heard of Christ followers upset at others for not “doing their part” You may even feel this way in your heart.  Never make your giving based on what others have given.  Tithing 10% is like training wheels on a bike.  It’s there to teach us the discipline and we weren’t meant to stop there but simply start there.  Once you ride on training wheels you will want to take them off and ride like a big boy, of course!  So let me ask you a question…Who feels like Barnabas today?  

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  Acts 4:36-37  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a tithe but a gift of faith.  When you give, something wonderful happens, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

DON’T JUST GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS GIVEN, BUT GIVE WHAT CHALLENGES YOUR FAITH.

There is a little known verse in Proverbs that may be the best wisdom on giving you will ever here.  Try praying this and let me know how this changes you.  You won’t be the same if you implement this…

“give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:8-9

Click here to give an online gift today

MORE ABOUT OUR ACCELERATE VISION HERE:  (Please note: If you are viewing video on a Mobile Device you must scroll to bottom and enable “DESKTOP MODE”)

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Expectation – You Need Some

10 Things that Accelerate Vision:  Principle #2 – Expectation

I love the moment right before take off – It’s a total rush!  Over the next 10 weeks I will be sharing one attribute every week that is proven to accelerate vision.  This week is #2 Expectation.  These are essential if we are to take our vision further faster.  These lessons don’t just apply to our church, but to every area of our lives. What will it take to #accelerate the vision of our lives and our church?

Principle #2 We must believe with EXPECTATION

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“Without fatih it is impossible to please God.”  Hebrews 11:6

Expectation inspires commitment.  I’ll never forget leaving for Marine Corps boot camp on a plane as an 18 year old boy.  I say boy because boot camp was part of my essential journey of becoming a man.  Everything in me wanted to be a United States Marine.  My father was a Marine and there was something about the experience that for some reason was alluring.  I wanted to serve my country.  I wanted to challenge myself.  Everything from the motto, “The few the proud the Marines,” to the sharpness of the uniform and challenge of serving my country.  I never went in doubting I could be a Marine.  After all my dad did it, My Grandfather did it, My uncles did it.  And I was EXPECTED TO DO IT.  I was committed to the process without wavering and without compromise

Why Expectation is Important

#1 Increasing Faith – No doubt there will be things we are called to do as a church and in our lives that will challenge us.  We can’t do it, but God will do it for us.  Our faith will increase.

#2 Community – The group of people I graduated boot camp with were incredible young men.  We will always have that shared experience.  To this day, whenever I meet a Marine, any Marine, there is a brotherhood that can’t be broken.

#3 Hope –  You need hope.  No matter what you are hoping for:  Paying off your debt, graduating from college or high school, a different place to live, a wife or husband, a son or daughter to forgive you; No matter what it is, you must hold out hope!

Expect it and you will accelerate the vision!

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Join us at 217church and our SERIES #Accelerate – Let’s celebrate what God has done through 217church this Sunday!

 

October 16 – Courageous Sacrifice – Sharon School in Robbinsville 10:30 am Combined service

For more on our NEW SEASON and Why we are moving out of the Theater Click HERE 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

5 Marks of an Incredible Team

We HAVE HUGE NEWS at 217church today. It just so happens today is the Day many as well have been waiting for – the kickoff of the NFL Sunday season.  The preparation, the anticipation and the signal of a NEW SEASON.  I can guarantee you one thing, the overarching quality that makes for an incredible team that will be in the next Superbowl is…CHEMISTRY.  The qualities listed below create attractive, effusive chemistry.  Incredible teams don’t have perfect people but everyone understands their role and what the goal is…WIN.  This is Exhilarating!

It’s not personal ego or accomplishment that matters, but in the end it’s what is on the SCOREBOARD. 

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In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”  Nehemiah 4:20

Teams rally together and in the case of a church, if God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Our scoreboard is lives rebuilt, small groups living sent on mission, and disciples made.  All of these things happen through teams.  From the beginning, everything we have done has been around the idea of teams.  It exciting to be a part of an INCREDIBLE team.  

5 Marks Of An Incredible Team…

#1 Unselfishness –  When one person gets all the credit, the team is dysfunctional.  Unselfishness seeks to advance others for the betterment of the team and the advancement of the cause.  When one person makes decisions based on what is best for them rather than the team, it all falls apart.  Unselfish people are constantly early for the meeting.

QUESTION:  Do you look out more for yourself or others?

#2 Reliability   Not just when things are good but even more so when things aren’t looking good.  If you disappear when things get rough, your hurting the team.  It’s easy to be a part of a team when things are great, but your true commitment is tested when you don’t see a solution. Reliable people are present through ALL circumstances and they KEEP their word.

QUESTION:  Do you support or subvert the vision when things get tough?

#3 Clarity – The greatest teams I have been about are clear and concise about what the common goal is.  This happens when people understand how what they do fits with the overarching vision.  Where there is clarity there has already been great conviction.  WE MUST do this, WE WILL do this, NO MATTER WHAT, THIS IS HAPPENING!  The vision is razor sharp, easy for people to see and experience.

QUESTION:  Is your team clear about what your team is about?

#4 Urgency –  Look, there is limited time to complete the vision.  Working diligently to accomplish something that has a noble purpose should not be intentionally delayed.  For our church, the urgency is critical.  If we don’t work quickly, people go hungry, kids don’t find Jesus, parents lose direction, people lose hope, the enemy temporarily wins.  Now is the time!

QUESTION:  Are you complacent or compelled when it comes to your team’s vision?

#5 Honor – This may be the most important of all the qualities.  When honor is present there is a deep respect of the people you are working with and for.  People matter to God and their gifts are to be encouraged.  No gossiping, no side conversations, not a critical spirit.  But encouragement, direct communication and love for one another.

QUESTION:  Are you a complainer or a champion of unity?

Wear your favorite team jersey this Sunday and get ready to be a part of an incredible TEAM!  Go 217church!  What else would you add to this list?  Can’t wait to share the HUGE NEWS with you!

Josh

Our Next Series study of the Book of Romans Starts September 18

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September 18 – Unstoppable Gospel

September 25 – Unstoppable Grace

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here