Training Matters

Every day after high school, I would jog down to the track and get the days training schedule from my track coach, Mr. Graves.  He always knew what I needed and helped me to be a better, more disciplined runner.  As a freshman starting high school track, there was so much excitement and vigor around doing the exact workout he wanted us to do.  But about two weeks into the season, as the miles began to pile up along with the sore muscles, I wasn’t as enthusiastic.  I was a 14-year-old undersized boy dragging myself to the track every day.  It was painful, and to be honest there were some days I not only didn’t want to train, I wanted to quit.  I began to wonder if this whole “track” thing was for me.   This Sunday at 217church we will discover some key truths about what TRAINING has to do with us being a church on mission.

Proud of my kids as they finished their first ever race!

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”  1 Corinthians 9:25

Training is tough work.  It isn’t glamorous putting in all those miles when no one is looking and your race is sometimes months away.  But one thing we forget: God is preparing us for what is next, even when we don’t feel like it matters.  Trust me, It all matters!  In every difficult situation and every phase that seems harder and harder, God is constantly teaching and training us.  Here are some hints to train smarter in every area of your life:

4 Hints on Training

1. Be Realistic – Most of us think we can do more than we actually can.  In our spiritual lives, reaching the goals Jesus wants us to achieve has to do with us being realistic about our training.  As we enter into the new year, be realistic about what you can achieve and what you can handle.  God will not give you more than you can handle and remember not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to.

2.  Have a Long Term View – In a world of instant gratification, it’s those who see the future race while they train that excel the most. I have seen so many people, marriages, athletes, small group leaders, pastors, friends, and co-workers burn out and flame out because of a lack of long term perspective.  The more I can connect today’s activity to the vision of the big picture, the more meaningful the training becomes.  This means that you have to pace yourself. Perspective will lead to better training.

 3. Get A Good Plan – Once you have a long term perspective, you need a training plan.  Sure some of the things you will learn will be on “accident”, but intentionality matters when it comes to personal growth.  Identify key areas of your life where you want to grow, then ask what is one action that will lead me to the end vision.  A good plan keeps you on track, encourages you along the way and provides confidence and enthusiasm.  This also allows you to trust God’s voice.  If God gives you the plan to execute and you see results, it helps you to trust him more.  By the way, if He changes the plan mid stream, it doesn’t mean you were “wrong,” it means that now you are at a different place in your training and He wants you to go further!  Once my track coach saw I had mastered certain runs, he changed it up and this allowed me to run faster!

4. Execute with Accountability – Training alone is NEVER as good as training with a coach.  Once you have a plan, YOU MUST SHARE IT!  If you think you are better alone, you have a pride problem.  If you think your ideas are the best, you have a trust problem.  Still not a believer?  Here is why accountability makes you better:

  • You’ll Feel A Sense of Urgency – If you have the habit of training with someone, you are less likely to sleep in on your workout partner.  The easiest way for me to go on a run is to take someone with me.
  • You’ll Want Others To Succeed– When I actively train with someone, I find myself wanting them to finish strong as well!  It’s not about me beating them, but helping them.  It is harder to feel tired and sorry for yourself when you are helping someone else succeed in their plan.
  • You’ll Finish Stronger – When you are at the end of your training, others can push you when you don’t think you have energy left.  Trust me!  There is usually more left than you think there is.

Now let me leave you with this thought:  I was far from the best athlete on my track team, but I will say this.  There weren’t very many people who out-trained me.  My philosophy was train hard and the results will come.  Training hard may not lead to a championship but it will lead to character and respect.  As you live on mission this week, Train hard or go home!  I believe in you church!



Getting Over Yourself – Pride

I remember being in the band in high school, and though it may be hard to believe, I was undeniably A BAND NERD.  I had played trumpet for three years in high school and even sported the latest large wire rimmed glasses that sealed the deal for me.  Every year at the beginning of the year we would have chair tryouts.  I had taken great PRIDE the year before of being 1st chair.  There were solos, better parts and it was a prestigious thing in the band to be first chair.  After chair tryouts we were all gathered around the director’s office as he was posting the official results.  I looked at the wall and I – WAS – CRUSHED.  2nd chair.  I had gotten dethroned by someone who was younger than me and for the next three months I begrudgingly took my seat.  I was absolutely ticked and my EGO took a large hit.

Most of us have dealt with the most disgusting five letter word in the English language P-R-I-D-E.  But how do we get over ourselves?

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

So what did I fail to do?  I failed to realize that the band wasn’t about me.  This should have been obvious.  A band takes, well, multiple people playing multiple instruments to create the sound of a band.  “The whole world is comprised of other people with one minor exception, that is you.”

4 Simple Ways To Get Over Yourself

1. Practice The Me Third Principle – The me third principle is rather simple, God first, others second and me third.  If you want to see an example of humility, open the door for someone, let someone go in front of you and last but not least, choose to give someone else a better seat on your next flight.  Choose the middle seat.  If I could afford it, I would buy a first class seat then randomly choose someone on the plane to upgrade.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

2. Give Generously –  It’s hard to remain prideful when you give with no strings attached.  The way to combat prideful giving is to give and ask for nothing in return.  Tell NO ONE!  Once you share it, immediately you will feel pride well up in you and you just wasted your money.  Your humility was snatched up by your evil ego.

3. Laugh At Yourself Regularly I often become the butt of my own jokes because I know I am a goof ball who has no business doing what I am doing.  I have no business being married to my amazingly gorgeous, hot wife. I work with amazing people who for some reason choose to work for me.  (By the way, you choose your boss). And I can be the quirkiest person around.  STOP taking yourself so seriously, calm down, relax, and laugh at yourself.

4. Be Willing To Be Forgotten – This means in every instance pass along the credit.  I believe we are the sum total of what people pour into us.  Teachers, coaches, parents, brothers, classmates:  There is no way I got here alone, and you didn’t either.  I think what the world needs is more people with a sober view of themselves and their accomplishments.

One more thing, here is the warning:  Once you think you are humble, you become prideful.  Just because you do the above you won’t necessarily shake the “pride virus.”  Humility takes a life-time of depending on Jesus and self managing.

You weren’t born as Superman, so get over yourself!


Question:  What is the most difficult situation you have had to show humility in?

P.S. If you know of anyone who has a specific need from Hurricane Sandy, please contact Tim 732-306-9074.

Finish Strong

Running is a hobby of mine that has grown on me since I ran track and cross country in high school and every race is an experiment.  I still love the sound of the starting gun and the anticipation of lining up before a race, but one thing has changed for me: I run more against myself than I do against other people.  One of the ways to achieve “PR’s” (Personal Records) is to finish strong.  This simply means run your fastest miles towards the end of the race.  This is a difficult art to master.

Ashton Eaton crushes the world record in the decathlon at the U.S. Olympic Trials
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

    Finishing well in life is not about how fast you start but how intentionally you finish.

    Some of my favorite people are senior adults!  Part of the joy of being a pastor in a multi-generational church is that we have the privilege of honoring senior adults among us.  217church is not just a church full of young people; but also those who have been around the block a couple times and are finishing strong.  Why? Let’s break it down with seven keys to finishing strong.

  • Intentionality – Discipline is the one thing that intentional people have.  They are looking for certain outcomes and have the fortitude to order their schedule to invest in high impact activities.  They don’t “retire”, but view their advanced years as the most productive and meaningful years lived.
  • Perspective – Finishing strong means you know that it isn’t about you.  Whatever your passion and purpose, it’s ultimately about passing your skills, ideas and wisdom on to the next generation.  If what you discovered dies with you, what’s the point?
  • Experience – Not just experience but evaluated experience.  Get as much experience you can in what you want to excel in.  Finishing strong means you learn not only from your own mistakes but from the mistakes of others.  This is an art that if you master can serve you well.
  • Focus – By the time you are in your sixties and seventies, you not only know what you are good at and not good at, but you no longer desire to be all things to all people.  You also know what is important, not important and have the FOCUS not to simply talk about it, but to do it!  One of my character mentors, who is eighty-five years old, arises at 4:30 am every morning and prays for 2 hours.  HE PRAYS FOR ME EVERY DAY.  As I am writing this, he is just finishing up his prayer time.  He gets it. He defines finishing strong!
  • Family – NOT hobbies, yes I said family!  Hobbies and pleasure are not bad, but they become subversive when they inhibit relationships. People who finish strong will do anything and stop at nothing to propogate a healthy generational legacy.  I recently heard of grandparents that moved far away from their grandchildren to live the good life in Florida because they “deserve it.”  Now they see their grand kids once a year.  They chose pleasure over purpose.  I hope you enjoy your golf outings, your grandchildren will miss you.
  • Clarity – The older I get the more I find I am telling it like it is. (that’s scary)  I think almost everyone has witnessed grandma or grandpa sharing truth at the Thanksgiving table and cutting right to the point.  In essence, finishing strong means you can’t worry what other people might think or say about you.  Be clear about what you are about.
  • Character – It is not about the outward appearance, but what happens when no one is looking.  Those who finish strong don’t have a public performance mentality; they are performing for an audience of one.
    I am learning more to have long term perspective and I am looking forward to aging with intense focus!

    What about you? What would you add to this list?  LET’S FINISH STRONG!


Leadership 101 – Humility

When I think of Martin Luther King Jr. I think of humility.  He devoted his whole life to equal rights and the ending of racial oppression in our country.  He won the Nobel peace prize at the age of 35. Amazing.  People who stand for peace are usually humble people.  This should not be so difficult but we know how difficult it can be for us.  Was Martin Luther King Jr. perfect, not at all!  But we look back at his life and look at his moments of reconciliation and peace as the most humble moments of his life.  His well known I have a dream speech carries so much humility with it and it motivates me to jump on board with his vision.  Humble people are those who promote peace which makes them attractive.  It is why the message of Jesus is so powerful, so much humility.  I want to stand for humility and be a broker of peace.  This is one of my most important roles as a Christ follower.  It is spiritual leadership at its simplest form.  Spiritual leadership is dependency on Jesus.

humble leadership makes sense to people

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”  Proverbs 18:12

When a man displays humility it is plain to see.  I love being around people who want nothing in return, no accolades or credit, no recognition or expectation.  We are wired as people to naturally expect something in return.  No one likes to be around people who know it all or think they are better than everyone.  People who lead according to their needs and fail to look out for those they serve, are on the edge of a downfall.  There is a strict warning for when we feel our heart tending towards pride.  When this happens, words and credit may come, but truly the honor becomes lost.    Humility is a beautiful thing and yet, I don’t want the title humility.  Once I claim that title I become proud.  Spiritual leadership is dependency on Jesus.

All The Answers –

I am tired of people who have all the answers.  What blesses a ministry, a work place, a home, is humility and integrity.  I’ll gladly take a person who is humble and who has integrity over big vision any day.  Show me unconditional loyalty with no entitlement and I will naturally want to walk alongside you.  A lot of people have vision based on ego, but this is corrupt and evil.  If we depend on Jesus we get his vision and develop our trust in him.  As a leaders, before I release and call someone a leader, I want to see if they can serve someone else’s vision.  I must follow, then maybe I can lead.  Spiritual leadership is dependency on Jesus.

5 Weeks of training

Over the next 5 weeks at 217church, our main topic will be training in leadership. This week we start with spiritual leadership.  What’s next for us as a church family?  Whatever it is, one thing is for sure, we better get this one right…Spiritual leadership is dependency on Jesus.

What is one simple action step you can take in order to cultivate humility in your life?

At The Crossroads…Decision Time

Six years ago it was decision time and the pressure was intense.  It was either move to New Jersey from Oregon or stay where we were and wait some more.  Do we leave everything we know including family and friends?  Do we jump into an unknown city with unknown people where we literally knew not one of the 9+ million people in the state of New Jersey?  Before we made the decision to move as a family from Oregon to New Jersey there were so many unknowns.  Would anyone like us? Are we doing the right thing?  I remember sitting on my deck with my bible open early in the morning asking God for direction.  I have never been more in tune with trusting God and wanting to be close to Him. Even then, it was an incredibly difficult decision.  What made it even harder is there were people who told us we were making the wrong decision.

Being at a Crossroads can drive you to total dependance on God

Maybe it isn’t leaving a geographical area but it could be a different type of major decision.  What major decision is on your radar and what are you going to do?  Go left or right there is no other choice.  You are on the hot seat and there is uncertainty.  What will you do? 

And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:15

Joshua needed to get this one right.  It was time for their first battle at Jericho and the whole nations blessing depended on a sound decision.  I love what God says to start the Crossroads Conversation.  Essentially, “You better get right before Me first if you expect me to talk to you and lead you.”

If you are at a Crossroads, here are some things to consider…

  • Have You Heard God Out?Go ahead and try to make a decision without consulting God and waiting on Him and you will get a GIANT MESS!  It may not look messy at first, but sooner or later you will end up realizing your own pride has ruined you.  I implore you if there is a MAJOR decision coming, LISTEN!  Marriage, buying a house, selling something, moving from one place to another, no matter what the decision is, you have to listen.  Anyone can talk themselves into the “logical” decision.  Stop using your mind and let God mess up your life.   
  • Are You Running From Something? – I have sat with many people in times of major decision and NONE of them have EVER admitted to me they were running from God.  EVER!  Were they? I have no idea, but I do know that denial is a major issue in CROSSROADS MOMENTS.  Come clean!  God will let you walk away, but He won’t stop trying to get your attention.
  • The Illusion of Control – The truth is you don’t control things!  Everything is under the control of God.  We make our plans and quite honestly, sometimes I think God laughs at them.  We think we are providing for our families with our great talents and gifts but God knows it is His provision. The thing about God I have realized is He will love us no matter what, but we can miss out BIG TIME on a blessing if we choose to control rather than yield to His control.
  • The Need For Courage – Stop thinking about it and just do it.  Your life is so short.  Try it!  What are you so afraid of?  Obviously, God does not tell us to do things outside of His Word, nor will he call us to sin, but if you need courage, ask God for it.

This Sunday 217church is all about A Fresh Vision!  I absolutely cannot wait to share the vision for us that God wants to bring his poeple out of ‘EXILE’!   “He will keep you in exile no longer.” Lamentations 4:22. Each one of us has been given an incredible opportunity to walk alongside Jesus, but for some of us, we are in exile. It is time for deliverance, it’s decision time.

Our church is at a crossroads. It is time to make some major decisions about how we grow and new townships to reach.  Will you pray with us as we seek God’s face in His will for 217church?  The journey is about to get really interesting!

What will you do at the CROSSROADS?


Keep on Pursuing

My son Titus has a new hobby, collecting baseball cards.  Over the last few months a day has not gone by when he has not talked about his new favorite hobby.  He is living, eating, and breathing baseball.  Statistics, rookie cards, hall of fame induction dates…If this keeps up, in a few years, Titus will be a walking baseball encyclopedia.  Something happened and I’m not sure what it was, but ever since the day he received his first cards, the boy won’t stop asking for more.  It doesn’t matter where we are: Vacation, Target, heck we could be in the car in the middle of the desert and Titus sooner or later would ask me, “When are we going to get more cards?”  At first it annoyed me, but now, it just reminds me that my son is intensely pursuing a vision.  To know everything possible he can about baseball and to acquire as many cards as possible.  He is PURSUING me relentlessly for MORE CARDS!  I mean really, it is quite amazing.

Titus’ latest acquisition / Jim Rice 1975 Topps Rookie Card

If there is one thing I need to hear and sense on a daily basis, it is that God Is Pursuing Me.  He is always trying to communicate with me, always trying to help me see things from His perspective and always willing to listen to where my heart is.  He is constantly asking me to take more risk, change something and come alongside Him in what He is doing.  As a matter of fact, my biggest fear is that I would lose touch on how to listen to God. 

His faithfulness to us is NOT dependent on our faithfulness to Him.

When you feel helpless and even like God has given up on you, try this…

  • Wait on the Lord – STOP!  Wait!  You have to calm down and realize that your timeline is not God’s timeline and it won’t be.  Stop freaking out!  The closer you get to God the more you learn to be faithful in the little things and will wait for him to do the work in the big things.  Learn the discipline of sacrificing short term instant gratification for long term gain.  There is something to be said for waiting a VERY long time for something. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “God hasn’t moved YET, so it must not be His will.”  maybe God is saying “NOT YET”  GOD IS PURSUING YOU!
  • Hope in the Lord – I have seen so many young pastors, leaders give up on ministry, their families and their calling.  They live with this idea that they have to be in control and after a while they lose hope!  Things are probably not going to go your way 100% of the time!  But don’t lose hope.  This scripture once got me through a time of despair and doubt:  Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Seek the Lord – Don’t stop asking!  Be persistent and beg God for His plan for your life to come to it’s full fruition.  This means you will probably have to listen like you have never listened before.  Cut out the distraction, think like you haven’t thought before and lean on His understanding. Go ALL-IN with GOD!  Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

This Sunday 217church is all about a God who is faithful and PURSUES US! (Lamentations 3:21-23) Even when we absolutely ruin our lives and deviate drastically from his plan for our lives, HE STILL PURSUES US!  This is crazy, I would have given up on me by now, but God hasn’t and He won’t.  He won’t give up on me, His church and His plan for humanity.  If we pursued God like Titus is pursuing baseball, wow! We would be closer to His heart for us!

Today, live in the reality GOD IS PURSUING US

Hold on Tight Dad!

I have been a dad for almost 12 years now and man it has been a crazy ride.  Every year has brought more and more challenges from walking my three kids through the toddler phase to now entering into the middle school malaise.  I’ll never forget the moment my now 11 year old was born.  It was life changing.  All of the sudden I caught a glimpse of how God felt about me.  It was remarkable.  I knew billions of men had experienced this moment but this moment was my moment.  I believe fatherhood is how God speaks to men at some of the deepest levels possible and I love watching people engage in experiencing God. 

When you abdicate your God given leadership role in the family, you miss out on God’s voice.

At my church today, Pastor Kevin shared his own story of how God has restored his relationship with his father.  He shared how God affirms, encourages and commissions us as fathers.  An incredible one hour experience with men holding the bible in their hands commissioned to be Godly fathers.  He is HOLDING ON to us.

My older brother Adam has been a dad now for just over a week!  I was thinking about him today as he sent this picture of his little guy, Malachi Charles Conn, just after he was born 26 weeks after conception.  My nephew was 2 pounds 2 ounces at birth and is a testimony of how much we truly are HOLDING ON to God for every breath.

Gripping Daddy’s hand

Can we just be honest?  Being a dad isn’t all glory and accolades.  As a matter of fact, most every dad I know including my own dad has dealt with a whole range of emotions and feelings.  Here some things I have had to deal with as a Dad.

  • Pressure – It seems as though everywhere I look there is pressure to perform.  Pressure to be a Godly man, a great provider, a loving husband, an exceptional example to my kids.  Being a dad comes with a lot of pressure.  Take the pressure off and just accept the responsibility and pay the price.  Being a Dad is a God given privilege. Most any man can father a child but it takes a real man to be a Dad. Find biblical ways to deal with the pressure and Choose legacy over biology… HOLD ON!
  • Insecurity – I have never felt as out of control as I have when being a Dad. I wonder if I am spending enough time with my kids, if I am disciplining them correctly and if I am relating to them in the right ways.  There are so many questions.  Doubt can become strong and overpowering in my own mind. Choose God’s opinion of you over the world’s… HOLD ON!
  • Failure – the dreaded ‘F’ word.  Failure is a difficult pill to swallow especially when you have so many people watching you. Maybe it’s a failed business or broken promises. As a dad the truth is you will fail but that isn’t the real issue.  The issue is, how will you react to your own failure?

Here is my admonishment to us today as fathers – Stay in the game, don’t quit on your kids, give something up and do what ever you have to do to HOLD ON.  This means stay faithful to your wife, put down the remote, choose to depend on Jesus and whenever you are tempted to do something stupid, remind yourself of the unconditional love Jesus has for you.  There is nothing like being a Dad.

Embrace it with everything in you…

Vision and Teamwork

ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN baptisms down, nine thousand nine hundred and eighty-five to go!  Yes, you heard it straight from me.  Our BIG MONSTER VISION is to reach 10,000 people for Jesus and to help them become fully devoted to Jesus! I believe it can happen and I believe it will happen.  This is the role of vision casters.  BELIEVE!  Last Sunday we baptized twenty-five more people, more than we ever have in one day and it’s just getting started.

217church’s 100th baptism

After the first leadership vision meeting of 217church in August of 2009, progress began to happen very quickly.  We prayed, planned and personally invited people to be on the team.  We set out on a vision to “create environments where people could meet and follow Jesus.” We set out on a mission to Restore people to Jesus by pursuing God passionately, Rebuild the church through caring for one another deeply, and Renew the community through serving relentlessly.   We realized almost instantly that everything depended on God and we needed Him to supply us with a strong team that works together.  Our team lives with the reality of this verse in mind.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners…” (Mark 2:17 ESV)

If God is going to use us to Extend this ministry farther and faster than we could ever imagine we MUST have an incredibly strong team!  If we are going to reach those who are ‘sick’, our team needs to grow even more healthy.  What are some qualities of strong team members?

  • Chemistry – On our team, certain stuff just doesn’t fly. Let’s face it, we don’t all fit every team.  We have a very diverse team but we have to all be pulling in the same direction.  We are always looking for people to lead small groups, excel in the gifts of hospitality, attention to detail and be exceptional in their work ethic.  We already have a great team, but maybe it’s time for you to step up and maximize your gift.
  • Hunger – We are looking for people who are not content with the status quo but want something more excellent.  People who are desperate for a change will always outperform the complacent and mediocre.  You can’t replace hunger and passion and you can’t make someone want to excel.  We are looking for people who don’t make excuses because it is a “volunteer role” but know there is a higher standard.
  • Initiative – When Jesus called Matthew in Mark 2, he saw something in a passionate tax collector.  I believe some of our best future leaders have yet to come to know Jesus!  They are pursuing other things and they haven’t come to Jesus yet.  They haven’t realized their ultimate calling in the world…but they are about to!  Some incredible initiators are about to experience transformation.
  • Character – This means when no one is watching, we are the same person as when a spotlight is shining on us. We are looking for people who are devouring God’s word not out of obligation or legalism, but out of a passion to find out what Jesus says about this life and how we should live it.  When Jesus says it, we do it.  Going in to this commitment we realize that it won’t be easy and the world won’t accept us.  But it’s not about pleasing people, it’s about pleasing Jesus.

I love 217church and I love the passion you continue to exhibit!  This week is vision week and we will let it all hang out!  Let’s celebrate and believe big for the future because we need Jesus and our community desperately needs Jesus.  After all if we can accomplish the vision on our own, it isn’t a God given vision.

Expectation is in the air,


Just Follow – The Direction for 217church

I am SO PUMPED about the next season at 217church! Starting Easter Sunday we enter into a brand new series called “Live Differently.”  This series will address the heart transformations that happen when we follow Jesus, particularly in the area of spiritual, financial, physical and family health.  Our #1 energy going forward will be to architect a church where discipleship and multiplication flow at the speed of the Holy Spirit.  I believe a church plant happens in three Phases:  As a matter of fact I think every church needs to cycle through these phases every so often recognizing that churches have seasons.

#1 Establish – Getting everything up and running, getting all of our vision, systems, values cemented so we can have a strong future.  We have had an INCREDIBLE Launching pad for this church.  WE ARE ESTABLISHED.

#2 Empower – People flourishing and 217groups owning the responsibility to make the vision of the church happen through serving, learning, inviting, caring (praying) and eating together.  Every group cell has the power and the DNA of the church built in.  Experience a 217group and you have experienced the potency of 217church!  Every group has the relationship base to become a disciple making group.  I believe we are in the dog days of the Empowerment stage. I believe we will make a major transition from Easter 2012 to the Fall into the following stage:

#3 Extend – Multiplying Disciples, which multiply groups in different neighborhoods and then eventually send missionaries abroad. We will launch various discipling models for people in different circumstances but they will have one marked uniqueness.  They will be 1-1 transformational relationships.


Here is what this means for us:

A Philosophy I hold close is I believe discipleship best happens 1-1, life on life.  I am amazed at these two simple words of Jesus… “Follow Me” (Mark 1:13) I have had a 1-1 coaching/discipling relationship ongoing for almost 10 years now.

The vision statement for 217church is to “Create Environments where people can meet and FOLLOW Jesus.”  Meeting someone is one thing, following someone is a totally different thing. Following Jesus is hard work and I need help.  If we pattern our lives after Jesus eventually we will have to battle the heart issues of pride, possessions and purity. Paul encourages in 2 Timothy 1:13, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 

Our guiding word will be COACHING…why coaching?  I believe it best describes what a disciple maker does! Coaching is a discipline within disciple making that we will focus on.


Here are our guiding principles:

#1 We will coach in order to learn to coach –  The second part of Mark 1:13 is often forgotten when talking about disciple making environments… “and I will make you become fishers of men.”  You are discipled in order to disciple. What God entrusts to you through relationships, he EXPECTS you to impart to othersJesus fully expected the disciples to do something with their experiences with Jesus.  They were transformed by Jesus and were responsible to lead and disciple others.

#2 We will leverage 217groups to do life on life coaching – By the fall every leadership team member and every small group leader will have a coach.  This is someone who will disciple them.  This represents about 15% of our congregation.

#3 We will Develop a coaching culture that will trump everything else – This is how we will measure growth in our church.  Everything in our church will point to coaching relationships.  This multiplication will lead us into the Extend phase:  2 Timothy 2:2 says and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”   That’s FOUR GENERATIONS of discipleship in 1 VERSE! Did you see that?

#4 We will use various tools/methods – There is no one size fits all, but we have our hands on some great proven tools and some we developed on our own that speak to the culture of Central New Jersey and our church.

This will not be easy.  This will be messy. This will be hard work.  This will be Holy Spirit driven.  This will be a movement. We will get attacked.  We will persevere.  We will be transformed. This will be very expensive…

“Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you everything.”  Your leaders are preparing…Who is in?



A Slow Death – Momentum Day 5

Scripture:  Acts 5

Key Verse: Acts 5:4-5

“You have not lied to man but (F)to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he (G)fell down and breathed his last.”

Having financial integrity is perhaps one of the biggest reflections of a good heart.  On the other hand, people that can’t handle money, well, it reveals an ugly reality.  I just got my W-2’s in the mail, you probably will shortly too.  many will be tempted and then cheat on their taxes.  Is it really worth it? not a big deal, it was YOUR money after all right?  Unfortunately, things like this are just revealing the underlying issue that is truly killing us.

Every time we compromise our integrity we are dying a slow death inside.  Who you are when no one is watching is who you are anyway because the rest is just a show. The world may not see through us but God does. It is critical that in every detail we seek the truth. Ananias DROPPED DEAD INSTANTLY.  This probably won’t happen to you.  Integrity is all you have.