Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What a tremendous time of ministry

The past several days at the CORE Church of Troy have been jam packed with some exciting opportunities as God continues to open new doors to us for effective ministry.

Our feed-a-kid ministry is continuing to grow as more and more children and their families come through our doors. We started this joint ministry effort with Rev. Willie Bacote and the Missing Link Street Ministry this past summer and have not stopped since day one. Every Monday, Wednedsay and Friday we are continuing to serve a hot, nutritious meal to children and families in the North Cental and South Lansingburgh neighborhoods of Troy. Serving these free community dinners has become a great way to connect with people and to build bridges for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. We are getting to know many of our neighbors; to the point where they know us and trust us enough ask us to pray for them. We are not just feeding their bellies, but their souls as well.

Saturday, October 25th, was national "Make a Difference Day." To coincide with this we (CORE Church and Missing Link) came together and cleaned several city blocks that surround the CORE Church facility. We started the day at 9:00am with a community breakfast. 25-30 neighborhood children joined us and were treated to sausage and hash browns, muffins, donuts, pastries, etc. Despite the rain that drizzled outside, we took to the streets at 10:00am and spent the next two hours clearing the side walks of fallen leaves and trash that had accumulated. We were joined by six local college students from RPI who labored with us in an effort to show our community that we care, and to instill in these children a sense of community pride and responsibility. We ended the clean-up with a lunch of pizza and chicken wings, provided by Jimmy's Pizzeria. Thank you also Mr. Mike Martin for your donation of donuts and pastries.

Sunday, October 26th we partnered with our neighborhood association for our third annual community harvest party. More than 5o neighborhood children and their families came and enjoyed some games, crafts and snacks, and pumpkin decorating. It is through events like this that we are able to establish connections with unchurched people for the purpose of making Christ known in the heart of the city.

Monday, October 27th In addition to our three day a week community meal, we were joined by Jerry and Candy Moyer, who brought their Jubilee Gang children's evangelism ministry to Troy and blessed our socks off with an evening of fun packed adventure. 39 children and several adults came forward at Pastor Jerry's invitation and prayed to receive Christ. Pastor Willie Bacote and I were brought to tears of joy at the response of these children (and adults) and the work God has allowed us the privilege of carrying out on His behalf. This is the crowning achievement for all that we do in the name of Jesus, for the glory of God almighty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God Ordained Partnership

Several people have asked me recently about our relationship and partnership with the Rev. Willie Bacote and the Missing Link Street Ministry

I am seeing The CORE Church doing more and more with Rev. Willie Bacote and his Missing Link Street Ministry. He and I have a common vision and passion for reaching out to Troy's urban poor. We have developed a relationship that is continuing to be shaped by the hand of God. He and I have spiritual gifting that compliments each other, while at the same time there are differences that God is working out in his time. Some would call such differences “barriers.” Barriers are nothing more than challenges that can be met and overcome through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. For one, there is a racial barrier. As much as I’d like to think that this is not an issue, there are thoughts and feelings on both sides that have been shaped by society, culture, life experiences and upbringing. Whenever people of different backgrounds and upbringings come together there will be challenges that must be addressed. By the grace of God these barriers will continue to erode, as he transforms us by the renewing of out minds, and the glory of God will be revealed.

What a powerful testimony we will have as this ministry partnership continues to develop, as people of different races and cultures come together, in the name of Jesus Christ, and He is lifted up. Together we are planning some great community ministries, in addition to our ongoing, three-nights-per week feed-a-kid ministry. Our common desire is to see people’s lives transformed by the powerful hand of God. That includes the lives of two men called by God to lead such a vision. Even as ministry leaders God continues to transform and shape our hearts and minds individually, so that we can come together and serve Christ. He increases our capacity to love others, regardless of their skin color, cultural heritage, language, social status, etc. This demonstrates to those we are leading that God is at work in us, and that we are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Will you continue to pray for us as we serve the living, triune God?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Please Pray for my young friend James

There is a single mom that has been regularly partaking of our community meal who has made it known to us that her eleven year old son, James, has been diagnosed with tumors in his brain.

This hit home for me because my own two boys are 9 and 11 years old and are healthy.

Would you please make it point to lift this young man up in prayer (along with his mom and siblings).

What a way to end the day

After spending half of my day in NYC attending The Journey Church's Activate Seminar, and taking in a few Manhattan sights (it's been awhile since I've walked through Times Square), I managed to make it back to Albany by 4:15pm; just in time to pick up our bread and milk donation from Stewart's Shops and make it to The CORE Church for our Feed-a-kid community meal. It was a great sight and blessing to see many children and their families partaking of this free community dinner, which is co-sponsored by The CORE Church and Missing Link Street Ministry. This evening's meal was, once again, provided by Olde Daily Inn Catering. Olde Daily Inn has been gracious and generous, as they have partnered with us in feeding hungry children and their families, who may very well go without a nutritious, hot meal.

Frank, a friend and licensed electrician, came and offered to look over our aging, ailing electrical system. After a thorough examination he was able to determine the cause of the problem and quickly fixed it. We are thanking our Great God for providing for our needs and sending Frank, along with another friend, Mike, a roofer by trade, who got up on our roof, found the cause of our leak and then fixed it. These and other building maintinance issues have challenged us as we have sought to be diligent and obedient in God's call to be His hands and feet, and bringing His good news of a risen Savior to harassed and helpless people.

If you feel led by the Holy Spirit to pray for us, please do. Additionally, if you'd like to help us serve our community and make Christ known, through financial giving and/or volunteering, please give us a call: (518) 526-6079 or send us and e-mail: corechurch@gmail.com.

May the peace of Christ rest upon you!

Ready to Activate

Hopped a train from Albany to NYC this morning in order to hang out with Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas at The Journey Church's Manhattan headquarters and learn some of their small group insights in their Activate Seminar. This was the first in their new series of small group seminars, which centers around four components or steps to planning and implimenting a successful small groups ministry in a local church setting; focus, form, fill and facilitate. Nelson and Kerrick outlined this strategy, which is also available in their new book, "Activate:an entirely new approach to small groups." The Activate Seminar is or will be available on CD. Check out their Church Leader Insights website for further information.
The CORE Church is at the point of launching small groups. In fact, we have started our first, which has been meeting at the home of one of our church members for several weeks now. The vision and prayer for us is to reproduce. Small groups are necessary for giving church attenders opportunities to connect with one another, outside of the larger weekend gatherings. There are quite a few successful small group strategies to draw from, but I was intrigued by Nelson's challenge to get 100% of my church involved in small groups. Attending the Activate Seminar was worth my time and money. The CORE Church will soon impliment this strategy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Opportunity for integrity

I had to appear in Troy city court this evening to answer to a charge of driving while talking on my cell phone. Now it was time to tell it to the judge. As I sat in the courtroom, awaiting my turn, I began thinking about what I could say to the judge in my defense. When my name was called I approached the judge's bench. He asked me if I had been talking on my cell phone while driving. I replied with a simple "yes." He then instructed me to see the city attorney and "see if we can work something out." I could have tried to lie my way out of the charge or I could have taken advantage of a typo on the appearance ticket (The responding police officer had listed the wrong intersection in the "place of incident" space on the ticket he gave me). I could have done any one of a half dozen things to weasel my way out of a minor traffic infraction, but in the end I pleaded guilty. I escaped with a lesser charge, which resulted in a mere $25.00 fine, and I with my integrity intact.

Several years ago I read a Bill Hybels book entitled Who You Are When No One's Looking, the theme of which is, choosing character over compromise. That book came to mind as I sat in the court room this evening, waiting for my name to be called. It may seem like a minor thing to lie my way out a traffic ticket, cheat a little on an exam, keep a wad of found money, etc. "Who would know," one might ask. But God sees and knows everything we think, say or do. So who am I kidding when I think no one is watching or no one will notice?

Thinking missionally

I happened to tune into the Planting Channel thanks to Dave Ferguson's blog updates.

I was not able to make it to LEAD, so catching it here gives me the opportunity to glean from some of the conference speakers. I was on the Planting Channel earlier today and was able to catch some highlights from Catalyst 08, which I was also unable to attend, and got to watch replays of Vince Antonucci interviewing several people, including Jay Hardwick, as part of Catalyst 08 Start LAB. Jay was sharing about living missionally in his hometown of Columbia, SC and how they are meeting in his home as a group and then going out into the city of Columbia and being "conduits" for Christ. He also mentioned that they haven't done a big mailing/matketing campaign or launched big, but have intentionally held back from such an approach so that they can build DNA for disciplemaking.

As I was listening to and watching Jay's interview I was identifying with what he and his team are doing because that is very close to what I've been thinking over the past couple of years as my family and I have moved back to my hometown of Troy, NY, to an inner-city community that is in desparate need of God's hand upon it. I have watched a few new churches launch in recent years, that are within driving distance to where we are located and they are reporting hundreds of people attending their worship gatherings. I am elated to see this current church planting movement reaching New York's capital region. I am also very glad to hear that these other church planters are being successful in their endeavors. However, as Ed Stetzer, Alan Hirsch and others point out, it will take different methods and models to reach people for Christ, and what works for one church planter in a certain geographical area, may or may not work in other areas.

Being missional is not a method or a model, it is simpy being the sent people of God in the community God has sent them too. It's about being conduits for Christ in the midst of a dark and distressed world. For me that may be vastly different than what other church planters are doing, including those who are in close proximity to me (geographically speaking). We have intentionally avoided church marketing campaigns and have, instead, invested in building relationships within our community, or as Jay calls it, "building DNA for disciple making." That takes time and patience.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Finally made it to Northway Church

Over the past few years I had heard much about Pastor Buddy Cremeans and the Northway Church. They are one church that meets in three locations in upstate, New York; Malta, Clifton Park and Colonie, although they are now meeting in two locations, temporarily, while building their new Malta facility.I had been wanting to check out one of their gatherings but had been prevented from doing so due to a busy schedule of my own.

This past weekend my wife and kids went on a weekend outing and I was left home alone. Having nothing on my schedule for Saturday evening, I decided to drive to Clifton Park to catch their 6:00pm gathering. They meet in a converted strip mall retail space, formerly home to a health club. The worship service was excellent. The band, fronted by worship pastor Kevin Brustle, sounded great. Then pastor Buddy came on and gave an inspiring, spirit-filled message from their current "PG:parental guidance required"series.

After the worship service I met up with Brian Howe, campus pastor and program director and Facebook friend. Brian gave me a brief tour of their Clifton Park facility...quite a set-up by the way.

It is exciting to see a vibrant new church like Northway grow and lead many to Christ. I am looking forward to getting to know more about Northway Church in the neat future. Pastor Buddy and Pastor Brian may see my ugly mug more frequently at their Saturday evening gathering!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Earning some street credibility

One of the most significant doors for effective ministry God has opened to the CORE Church of Troy, in this inner-city community, is children's ministry. This neighborhood is 95% residential and ranks near the top of NYS's list of communties with a high percentage of teen & single mothers. There are many children, some as young as 5 & 6, running these streets unsupervised.

One of the earliest burdens God put on my heart, when we came to Troy in the spring of 2006, was the need for someone to stand in the gap for these great kids. Having been born and raised in this very community, God has sent me and my family back, to reach out to the kids and families who live here now. These same streets that He rescued me from are the mission field He has prepared me for and appointed me to.

After two and a half years of reaching out, we have reached a point where we have earned what is referred to in inner-city ministry as "Street credibility." This term refers to the point we've reached where children and single moms, homeless pedestrians, community leaders, etc., know us and trust us. This has become more obvious tome over the past several weeks, through a series of defining moments.

Today, for example, I was at the church cleaning my office (a chore I had been putting off all summer). I was really getting into it when I hear a knock at the side door of the church building. I looked out my office window to see who it was. It was Steven, a 12 yr. old neighborhood boy who has been fellowshiping with us since this past spring. I was going to tell him that I was alone and busy when I noticed that he looked rather depressed. I asked him what was wrong when he informed me that two older boys had threatened to "beat him bloody." He was also bored and wanted someone to talk to. I spent the next half hour listening to him as he poured out his thoughts. After our conversation ended, he rode off on his bicycle, and I went back inside and finished my office cleaning chore. I thanked God for the opportunity to chat with Steven and minister to him. I also asked God to forgive me for wanting to shrug Steven off, because I was busy with my own things.

I still have some cleaning left to do, but it will get done!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Great opportunity ro share Christ through film

Most people over the age of 20 know who Billy Graham is. His life story on film will captivate many and create an environment to share Christ with our family and friends