Scandalous Grace

Second chances in life and leadership can often be viewed as scandalous. But, if you study the Bible, the message of Grace is scandalous. I mean just think about, without the act of radical grace in our lives we would have no second chances. Without the act of love and grace, why would churches be in business? Churches are not made for the righteous, but made for the sinner — people who have failed and missed the mark, just like you and me. Through Jesus’ work on the cross and by His love for mankind, Grace is given to every man and woman —to every liar, fornicator, stealer, adulterer, bank robber, money embezzler, etc…

I like quoting what my pastor, Rob Koke of Shoreline Church, Austin, TX says about grace, “The message of grace is that even though we can’t go back for a brand new start we get a second chance at a brand new future.”

A few days ago, I wrote an article about my thoughts concerning the Ted & Gayle Haggard scandal and about Gayle’s new book, Why I Stayed – The Choices I Made In My Darkest Hour. You can read the article by clicking HERE. In my article I said, “What if the church thought as chess players and saw the Haggard scandal as a opportunity and decided to leverage the crisis to impact and reach more hurting people that struggled with drug addictions, immorality and other issues of life that are in need of the love and grace of God?”

What I forgot to include in my article was how will the church-at-large pre-determine its response and actions when we see the next leader fail in their integrity or in immorality (whether it be a politician, nationally known pastor, professional athlete, etc..). Because the truth is more leaders will fall and more scandals will happen. It breaks my heart to say that, but it’s the truth. The questions should not be: When will it happen? Who do you think it will happen to? The real question should be:  “How will I respond when it does?” Will I respond in love, compassion and grace or will I be self-righteous and act as if they got what they deserved? has pre-determined our decision and our response towards leaders who fall, to be one of grace, compassion and one that encourages a second chance in their personal and leadership journey.

There is a grass-root new movement that God is beginning to raise up, called People of the Second ChanceRadical Grace in Life & Leadership. The founders are Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite and they have been speaking at conferences and events to rally a movement that give leaders a second chance to share their story and their struggles. We encourage you to follow and connect with what they are doing.

The mission of the church is to be one of love and grace to people of all walks of life. It’s amazing when you think about the power of the cross, you begin to think who Jesus has forgiven… the adulterer, the tax-embezzler, the murderer, etc… His grace is scandalous.

Everybody Has A Story by Kelly Mata

I really enjoy hearing peoples stories. You know everybody has one.  It always amazes me the journey of where people come from to where they are headed.  Everyone wants to share their story with somebody, to be heard, encouraged, to walk away with hope for their future.

My small group journey started with a women’s young adult group. It was my opportunity to be discipled, transparent, share my thoughts (and therefore my mess).  I remember being like a sponge, absorbing God’s Word, memorizing scripture, praying scripture and watching the other girls in the group live their lives “out loud” right in front of me.  My group prayed for me and challenged me in love.  That accountability was vital to my spiritual and emotional growth and kept me on track.  I still stay in touch with some of those women and thank God for positioning me with such a great group.  The group eventually grew and multiplied into two groups.  I discovered with a smaller group, there is more opportunity for everyone to share and invite new people to join the group.

After I got married, my husband Sam and I joined a couples group.  It was a new season in our life and frankly, we had no idea what to do.  Nobody gives you a manual on marriage when you say, “I Do.”  However, just being involved in a couples group helped guide us and keep us from feeling alone.  We grew in our relationship with Christ and learned how to love and respect each other according to the Bible.  We were challenged to keep returning to God’s Word to discover what He says about marriage and how to apply it to our own. Being in a small group with other couples gave us the opportunity to have married friends, to laugh, go on dates and share prayer requests.

As you can tell by my journey, I am a strong believer in small groups.  In fact, I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the small group communities I have connected with, I’m not sure where I’d be today.

Small groups have provided for me the following:

  • Discipleship
  • Celebrate victories & share burdens
  • Place of authenticity – I can be real in my group
  • Healing community – where I practically live out my Christian life.
  • Fun & laughter
  • Be with like minded people who also want to grow
  • Make a difference in the lives of others

In my opinion, small groups are most effective when the group, or community, rallies around a cause. For example, Shoreline’s cause is to unveil God’s love to all people. If people know they are loved by God they will be able to pour that same love out to others.  I believe each one of us desires to be involved in something greater and bigger than ourselves-a cause that will make a difference and a positive change in the lives of people; a cause that will make the wrongs right in the world we live in. For example, feeding the homeless or bringing groceries to a widow or building Caleb houses for orphans or buying school supplies for children with lower income status or bringing awareness of human trafficking.   I’m convinced that people who are in a community rallied around a cause also develop into committed followers of Christ and World Changers for His Kingdom.

We also hear so many stories of unbelievers who are invited by a friend to attend a small group first, and then start attending a church service.

Small groups is a place where we can get to really know people from our church and are able to reach out to our neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. It’s where they too can experience life-giving relationships.

I envision small groups in every neighborhood, workplace and school shining the light of Jesus, where people can be the “church”, and unveil God’s love in their city and world.  I’m convinced small groups of believers saturating our city will make the difference in the lives of people, both now and for eternity.  Sometimes it really is the difference between life or death.  In my case, it was the difference of hope and loneliness.   I am confident that if people are in a small group, whatever age or stage we are in, no matter what goes on in our life, we will be alright.  Small groups have made a difference in my life and I hope you give it a chance to make the difference in yours.

Your Thoughts?

Kelly Mata is the Pastor of Small Groups & Assimilation at Shoreline Church where she has been in full time ministry for 20 years. Her passion for helping people get connected to God and each other are contagious.  She thrives on encouraging people to reach their potential by using their unique gifts and talents to serve the local church, their community and the world. Kelly serves alongside her husband, Pastor Sam Mata and their 2 teen age sons, James and Robert.

You can follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyMata and Facebook Kelly McVane Mata or become a fan of Shoreline Small Group page

Guest Bloggers: Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite “People Of The Second Chance”

Today something starts anew.

It is the first small step into officially beginning People of the Second Chance.

What is People of the Second Chance? Truthfully, we’re still sort of figuring that out.

But we do know this…we have dreamed for years about a movement of people that would let radical integrity and radical grace consume them in their life and leadership.

And in God’s perfect and ironic timing, People of the Second Chance is no longer just a nice concept with some stickers and tee shirts, but the very story we are living out right now.

In the past few weeks of learning, loss, tears, and experiencing a significant valley in our lives, we are more certain than ever that God does his best work in brokenness.

But let us be very clear here. This isn’t about us. It never has been. You see we have this simple belief that deep inside of all us we are desperately wanting grace, forgiveness, second chances and a fresh start.

We realize this is a little sloppy, unclear, and a bit rough around the edges. Even so, we still want to humbly and with sincerity invite you to join us.

Every journey must begin somewhere. This is our very simple somewhere. Welcome to the People of the Second Chance.

Mike Foster (Left)  is the Creative Principal at PlainJoe Studios in Southern California. He also leads a non-profit organization called Ethur. He is the co-author of Deadly Viper Character Assassins and founded these organizations: XXXchurch, Junky Car Club, and People of the Second Chance.

Jud Wilhite (Right) is the Senior Pastor at Central Christian Church, Las Vegas, NV. He is the co-author of Deadly Viper Character Assassins and co-founder of People of the Second Chance.

Bring the Solution

Recently I heard Pastor Matthew Barnettt speak at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. His message was on forward motion! These two words define the ministry of Renue. He went on to share a powerful set of statements comparing an activist and an actionist.

An Activist makes people aware of problems.

An Actionist creates a solution.

An Activist points the finger at those who should be solving the problem.

An Actionist takes personal responsibility to be the solution.

There is nothing wrong with being an activist, we need them, but there is a time for actionists to arise and put feet to their desires. Playing it safe and always talking about what you “will” do does not get things done. If God has put something in you to do, then take the steps necessary to do it.

There’s a song that Hillsong United sings, and one line reads, “God be the solution. We will be Your hands, be Your feet.” We act in partnership with the Lord to accomplish His will on the earth.

James 2:15-17 & 22 reads, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.’ But does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…You see that his faith and his actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

What are you doing right now to serve God’s heart in your sphere of influence? Check out the video to see how you can get involved in projects happening right now.

Your Thoughts?

STOP Child Trafficking NOW

This weekend on Saturday and Sunday on September 26-27, 2009 in cities all over the world people will be walking in their city streets. For what you ask? Well, this Saturday, September 26, 2009, I will join my friends from Shoreline Christian Center and hundreds of other walkers to rally behind a growing movement called, STOP Child Trafficking NOW.

This campaign was founded by a good friend, Lynette Lewis and her husband, Ron Lewis. Ron and Lynette pastor a thriving church in New York City called, Morning Star New York (part of Rice Brooks Morning Star Churches). When I first met Lynette Lewis, I was just a junior at ORU, leading the annual student-led Ignite Leadership Conference. She was one of our guest speakers. After talking with her over lunch, you could conclude she is very professional and savvy in marketplace ministry, but also driven with a mission. Plus, very fun to talk with and get to know. This campaign to STOP Child Trafficking NOW, is not just part of the Lewis’ mission, but it is our moral responsibility.

The purpose behind SCTNOW is to target the source of child trafficking — Predators who supply the sex industry everywhere in the world, including in your local community. The objective is to rally people to raise awareness and funds to support teams of elite operatives who are tracking down and bringing to justice predators in the child sex slave industry. Watch the video below as Lynette and other operation directors present their strategy to STOP Child Trafficking.

Join the movement and get involved!

10 Things Every Leader Should Know About Reaching 20-Something’s

Now I’m probably writing to the choir on this post, but I thought I would identify the top 10 things that every leader should know who is involved in or has a passion to reach 20 and 30 something’s. I have been active in young adult ministry over the past 5 years. Here are some of things I’ve learned and discovered while serving and leading young adults.

1. Your leadership style must be relational and authentic: Young adults will not follow a leader who is unrelational, distant or fake. Young adults can pick up on plastic Christian smiles and fakeness a hundred miles away. Remember, that is one of the major reasons why so many students leave church after they graduate from High School. As a leader, you must be able to lead and influence relationally; if not, then you’re in the wrong ministry.

2. When You Teach – Go Deep, Not Wide: Over the years, I’ve had so many young adults tell me how much they can’t stand superficial and fluffy teachings. I don’t really think that the previous generation of church leaders really quite understand how much young adults are crying out to be challenged by the scriptures. Fluffy and superficial teaching that makes your average Christian feel good about themself won’t cut it anymore. This generation is hungry to know the Bible in its fullest; not just nice motivational talks. That’s why more in-depth Bible study forums attract more than traditional weekend services. What is communicated and discussed in small group communities carries a lot more Bible weight and depth than a weekend service does from a 20-something’s perspective. (We’ll touch on this a little bit later…)

3. Be active in Innovation, Technology and Social Media: Every leader in young adult ministry must be able to leverage technology and social media as a tool for community and online ministry. Technology is a tool that helps create environments and experiences online and offline that can communicate the Gospel and your mission in relevant ways. I believe every leader that is influencing young adults should at minimum be on Facebook, Twitter and have a blog. Why? Because it will keep you connected with people as well as build more awareness about your mission, your community and your ministry. I love what Craig Groeschel always asks his Innovative Pastor, Bobby Gruenewald at, “Bobby, what have we not done with technology yet that can help and impact other people and other churches for the Gospel?”  Maybe you should ask the same kinds of questions to some of your young adults in your community? What has technology and social media not already done that we could develop to reach more people for Christ?

4. Build A Culture of Community: The DNA for most 20 and 30 something’s is to be a part of a culture that has a primary focus on community. I’ve discovered that 20-something’s need to feel that they are a part of a family and in a environment where their thoughts and ideas can be expressed and valued. I’ve learned that churches that don’t value or push to develop thriving small group communities, will never experience a major involvement of young adults in their church. Why? Because 20 and 30 something’s desire to grow in a community format, not just a weekend event format.

5. You Must Be Missional: For your church or ministry to attract and sustain young adults, you must carry a DNA that is missional. Why? The DNA of 20 and 30 something’s is to respond to the social problems of our culture around the world;  for example: poverty, education, human trafficking, hunger, pandemic diseases, community development and the list could go on and on. Young Adults want to be part of a church and ministry that thinks outward more than it thinks inward. I am convinced that many Western-American churches are too focused on their weekly experience, instead of focusing on the people that have never heard the Gospel. And, that is why many young adults are leaving church. Not because they don’t love Jesus, they just want to be a part of something that is bigger than a Sunday service. They want to give their lives to a cause that is actually strengthening humanity.

6. Cultivate a Two-Way Conversation: For years we have been brought up in a church culture that says you come to church and listen while the preacher does all the talking. I believe those days are coming to an end. The Bible says in Romans 10:14, How will they hear without a preacher? So, I believe the preaching of the Gospel will never be done away with. However, how we do it will change. And, I believe it will change with the help of technology and creative discussion on how the preaching and teaching of the Gospel becomes a two-way conversation, instead of just a one-way dialog.  Young Adults want to be part of a two-way conversation, where they become a part of the formation and developing process of how the Gospel is communicated to this generation.

7. More Ministry; Less Programming: For this generation, ministry opportunity will always trump organizational programming every time. Now understand what I say, organizational programming and structure has its place in the whole 360-degree picture. But sometimes this generation will view it as a threat that could limit or cap ministry opportunity. And, guess what, they’re right. My advice would be, if you are big on programming, then you might want to evaluate your calling in young adult ministry. Start out with a little programming with a wide space of ministry opportunity. Activate young adults in ministry, not in church programs.

8. Empower Your Core Influencers: In every young adult ministry team is a small handful of influencers that impacts the overall ministry. These influencers have a few things going for them among the other young adults in the ministry: 1. Relational Capital. 2. Charisma. 3. Trust. These influencers can be your greatest assets on your ministry team. Empower them to lead. Reproduce leaders. Reach out and disciple more young adults.

9. Coach this Generation in Practical Living: The church must provide coaching in practical living to this generation. So many 20-somethings don’t know how to put a resume together, manage a budget, or become financial stewards. I believe every young adult ministry within the local church must provide tools and personal training that can equip young adults to lead and flourish in their careers, finances, and relationships.

10. Everything Must Be About Jesus: Beyond all the cool environments, experiences, small group communities, events, missional outreaches, ministry opportunities, programming, technology, social media, team development, edgy buildings, etc…Everything you do for young adults must be about drawing them in to know Jesus more! Your ministry must carry a contagious passion and energy to spread and influence the love of Jesus Christ! That’s our cause, mission and reason for living. Everything else better come secondary, otherwise your young adult ministry will die quickly.

Your Thoughts?

(Guest Blogger: Brad Lomenick – Director of Catalyst) Where Have All the Interns Gone?

You can’t be president until you are 35. You can’t run a company until you are 40. You can’t be a Senior Pastor of a large church until you are at least 45…. You may have talent, but you have to wait your turn…. You have to earn the right to lead.

Agree or disagree?

Like it or not, it’s a whole new reality when it comes to who is leading who. The entire landscape of leadership has changed in the last 15 years, and continues to do so at a fast pace. The X generation is quickly being replaced by the Y generation as the growing force within the Church and our culture. And the P Generation (producer) is right on their heels. They WILL NOT wait to make a difference. They’ve grown up with the understanding that I can make a difference now- just write a blog, send a facebook message, create an online community, and boom- you have an audience and a tribe. So it’s time you wake up and face the realities of the next generation of leaders. Hierarchy is out; flat organizational structure is in. Wait your turn is out; make a difference NOW is in. Larger than life personalities are out; collaboration is in.

All those young college graduates and 20 somethings that used to show up at your doorstep begging for a chance to be an intern on your staff are harder to find these days. But they haven’t just vanished, and there is not a tremendous derth of new fresh leaders rising up ready to lead. All the young talent is still out there, but just not necessarily showing up at your doorstep, waiting in line to be the next version of you. Where have they all gone?

The simple answer- somewhere where they can make a difference and LEAD now.

Take for instance Teach For America, a non-profit organization started by Wendy Kopp that places recent college graduates as teachers into poor performing schools across America, many of them inner-city schools. These are not your bottom of the barrel graduates from Nowhere State U. These are Harvard, Princeton, and MIT grads. And they are lining up in droves to go and make a difference in the lives of at-risk students, all for less money, less fame, but greater impact.

Or the example of Prison Entrepreneurship Program. An amazing organization that seeks to provide a bridge for inmates who are released back into society. Inmates are trained while in prison on business skills, contests are held for who can write the best business plan, and the recidivism rate for those in the program is lower than 5%. The founder, Catherine Rohr, was once a private equity executive on Wall Street, and now spends her time, along with hundreds of volunteers and paid staff, in the middle of prisons hanging with inmates making a difference in their lives and creating a better society.

You also might have noticed an unbelievable amount of new Church Plants happening. Most of these current Planters are 20 somethings. Many are leaving well-established and large megachurches to go and start something new. Why? Because the Y generation is not willing to wait. They want to make an impact now, and this entrepreneurial trend will continue to grow.

So what to do? Well, the first step is to understand the reality of the next generation of leaders. You have them on your staff, and if you don’t know it yet, they are probably considering planting their own church or going somewhere else where they can lead NOW. If you want to keep them, give them space to run, and allow them to create and innovate within the system you’ve created. Second, it might be time for some aggressive recruiting. Be as passionate about finding the right talent as you are about reaching your community.

Interns, young leaders, and talent is all around us. It’s just not showing up on our doorsteps anymore.

Your Thoughts?

Brad Lominick is the Executive Director of the Catalyst Conference, Catalyst West Coast and Catalyst One Day’s. You can follow him on Twitter here and friend him on Facebook here. Check out his leadership blog here. This article first appeared in Rev! Magazine.

Rebel vs. Reformer

Since a previous post called, True Reformers Always Buck the System — I had some questions about what is the difference between someone who is a reformer versus someone who is in rebellion against authority. I thought it was a very good question, so I would like to try to take a stab at it.

I believe it comes down to a couple of simple questions that will determine what category one might fall under:  What is your cause? and What is the motive behind it?

All forerunner’s in the Kingdom (or reformers) in any area of leadership will come up against their biggest enemy which is spiritual and social injustice. The early reformers came up against spiritual injustice. By translating the Bible into the common language of that time made them an enemy to the Roman Catholic Church. By offering the Bible to every man was not only raising the spiritual lid, it blew it up! It was breaking spiritual injustice. And, in doing so it made guys like Martin Luther an outlaw in his country and throughout Europe.

What is spiritual injustice? Spiritual injustice can be in any church and denomination anywhere. Any church or religious institution that hinders people’s growth in the context of Biblical teaching and in their organizational systems (either intentionally or unintentionally) are examples of spiritual injustice.

Because of this fact all reformers will be viewed as rebels because they are going against a system that is limited and wrong. But, sometimes people will go against authority based off their own ego’s and selfishness. When this happens they are not reformers, they are sincere rebels with no cause and no purpose except to fulfill their own ambition. You see this in the church and business world all the time. People fight to make changes in the name of “we need to change things” or “we need to do things differently” in order to give themselves a platform, cushion their pocket book, promotion, recognition, etc…

People who are in the business to serve themselves are not reformers…they are rebels that become part of the family of injustice. When you are driven with a cause that helps serve the needs of people spiritually or socially…you are a reformer.

So, in a nutshell:

Reformers =

  • Fight against spiritual and social injustice
  • Are driven to meet the needs of people
  • Are passionate about serving
  • Value personal growth from different circles
  • Are willing to risk everything
  • Give their lives away for the cause
  • Are willing to live a life of  uncertainty and faith

Rebel’s =

  • Fight against established authority
  • Are driven by ambition
  • Are about serving themselves
  • Are unteachable
  • Are not willing to risk anything
  • Won’t give anything of themselves if its an inconvenience
  • Have to be in control consistently

Your Thoughts?

Social Justice Movements to Check Out

If you want to get behind a social cause on a local or global level that is lifting people’s lives but also spreading the good news of hope and love, here are a few that I recommend:

These are organizations led by leaders from all walks of life who refuse to wait and just sit in a church bubble, but rather be the church and the hands and feet of Jesus to people around the world that are experiencing devastation, hunger, poverty and injustice.

  • Tom’s Shoes – Every pair of shoes you purchase, TOM’S will give away a pair of shoes to a Child in need.
  • The Love Alliance – Educating individuals on social justice issues and then provides ways for them to make a difference in everyday lives.
  • Red Eye – Provides a common ground of young Hollywood peers to work together to express and grow through social gatherings, humanitarian relief, and the exploration of culture and the arts. It’s an organization allowing you to champion your platform to give back to humanitarian causes that are close to your heart.
  • To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
  • Fermi Projectis a broad collective of innovators, artists, social entrepreneurs, church and societal experimenting with ways to advance the common good in culture.
  • Invisible ChildrenThree filmmakers, social activists, and entrepreneurs in the Uganda focus their approach to humanitarian work on long-term goals that enable children to take responsibility for their future and the future of their country. The people of Uganda are asking for a future beyond the conflict and a long-term war.
  • Charity: Water More than 1.1 million people on the planet don’t have clean water. Be a part of projects helping hundreds of people experience clean water by establishing new water wells at hospital clinics, schools, and water towers in communities in Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, and many others.
  • I Heart Revolution They are uniting social causes giving all of us a global perspective of the Love of God that drives us to make a difference in the world. A collaborative response to see the inseparable union of worship and justice.
  • She Rescue Home is a secure haven for young Cambodian girls who are at risk or who have been rescued from human trafficking. Each of these girls deserves a safe and secure place to live, where counseling, medical attention, education and vocational training can take place in a safe and loving location.
  • Falling Whistlesis a small story exposing the world’s largest war. Using the symbol of the whistle to call individuals to courage, we join local leaders inside Congo to build a Free World.