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Rob Pilant

God’s Dream for Me

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He’s a stubborn, self-righteous, self-centered pain in the butt!  Have you ever had someone in your life who you knew was placed in your life so you could help her/him grow into who Jesus created them to be, but no matter how hard you tried, she or he would just mess it up? I have one of those. He’s got a lot of potential, but he has to be right. He has to understand how it all works before he’ll take any steps forward. And, he’s convinced that his way actually will work. In fact many time, the best way I’ve found to lead him is to flat out just let him run into a wall! The only bad thing is he’s got such a hard head that it doesn’t really seem to make much of an impact unless he’s running at full speed. I know what’s best for him and the best way for him to achieve it, but he is determined to learn from the school of hard knocks.
Now, it’s not kind to “out” someone in a public setting but I asked his permission, and he has hesitantly agreed to let me share his name with you. His name is Rob Pilant, and he’s the absolute hardest person for me to lead. I’m not kidding! The problem with Rob is that most of the time, he knows the right answers. So that’s not the problem. The problem is getting him to live by them. Maybe you’ve found this to be true in your own life. If someone were to ask you for counsel or direction on God’s will for his/her life, you could eloquently give 10 steps to finding and fulfilling God’s will for his or her life. It would be amazing! And yet with that knowledge in our heads, we end up not following that wisdom nearly as much as we should.
So when it comes to God’s dream for Brooklife, we must start by looking at God’s dream for ourselves. To lead others into what God is dreaming for them, we have to submit to what God is dreaming for us. To lead others well, you must start by leading you. At the Surge Leader Event, we gave you these questions to work through, but we did not give you enough time to work through them. So I would love for you to take some time and really think about these questions:
  • What has God been putting on my heart?
  • Where do I need to grow/stretch myself?
  • Who do I need to ask for help?
  • What will I have to stop doing to make room to do this?
  • What’s my next step?
The temptation will be to skip this and not take the time to ask yourselves these questions and honestly answer them. If you do, you will be missing out on a great opportunity to discern God’s dream for your life and the next steps He has for you. This world has us running like hamsters on a wheel and, many times, that wheel feels like the drum inside your dryer. The heat’s on; if you stop, it feels like everything will keep spinning and you’ll just be flip-flopping all over the place. But, the only way to get off the hamster wheel and find the true next step to fulfilling God’s dream for your life is to stop, listen for God and take the next step He has for you.

The Best Is Yet to Come

By Rob's Blog One Comment
My glory days are behind me. Every time I pick up a basketball, I’m reminded of that. Never again will I be able to dunk a basketball. Never again will I be able to play with the speed and fluidity that I once did. Never again will I be able to play two hours of full-court, full-throttle basketball and not wake up sore the next day. Never again will I be able to play at the level I once could. My body will just not do what it once did. My glory days of basketball are behind me. It’s a bit depressing now when I walk on the court and pick up the basketball, but I’ve mostly gotten over it. In fact, basketball is now just a pastime and the most important things in my life are not behind me; they are very much in front of me.
I have a dream of Brooklife becoming A Place For Everyone to Experience the Love of Jesus, Find Life-Giving Relationships, and Pursue their God-given Purpose. It is my dream but only in that I have embraced the dream that is actually God’s dream for Brooklife. God dreamt the dream of doing whatever it takes to make sure every lost sheep is found- doing whatever it takes and whatever is within His power to bring each and every lost sheep home. He passed that dream on to me, but He also passed it on to every one of us who calls ourselves Jesus followers. He commissioned us to fulfill His dream, and we should take that very seriously. It’s a crazy big dream that seems insurmountable, so it’s tempting to consider it a farce and, basically, give up before we get started. I mean how are we realistically going to create a safe place for the 50,000+ people in the MukMetro area to ask their real, raw questions about Jesus? That’s crazy talk! But, hold your horses! Have we forgotten Who Jesus is? Have we forgotten why we have placed our trust in Him? It’s not simply because He was a great talker and had great teaching. Many have had those skills and presented great teaching. We trust Jesus because death could not hold Him! He conquered the grave for Himself and for us! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that is active in our lives and is the source of our capacity to fulfill the dream to which He has called us. To say His dream is impossible is to completely disrespect Who Jesus is. Jesus is the resurrected Savior! He is God in the flesh! He is our hope! We must not only dream God’s big dreams. We must trust His power and presence in our lives to empower us to fulfill that dream.
And, by the way, God’s dream for us is not nearly as crazy as it sounds. That is…it is not as crazy as it sounds if each and every one of us steps up to the calling God has placed in our lives. There’s an old riddle that asks the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” And the answer is, “One bite at a time!” This same principle applies to reaching the 50,000+ people in this community with the love of Jesus. We’ll do it one bite at a time, and we won’t do it alone! Last year, our average adult attendance on a Sunday morning was 687 people. What if we could get 300 of those people to commit to create a safe place for someone to experience the love of Jesus and then commit to following Jesus like we are over the next year? That would take the 300 and turn it into 600. What if those 600 then committed to do the very same thing over the next year? Our 600 turns into 1,200. Then 1,200 becomes 2,400. 2,400 becomes 4,800. 4,800 becomes 9,600. 9,600 becomes 19,200. 19,200 becomes 38,400. 38,400 becomes 76,800. And now we’ve run out of people so we have to look at how to claim even more territory for the kingdom of God. All of that happens in less than eight years if under half of the adults at Brooklife take up the call to help at least one person find Jesus each year. Jesus’s plan works! It’s doable. But in order for it to happen we have to DO.
So let’s get busy. By 2025, we want to see:
  • 2,000 people attending our worship services!
  • 400 kids in Kidlife!
  • 400 students in our Student Ministries!
  • Over 1,200 people in small group environments!
We want to see God do something crazy amazing in this community! We want to see His kingdom coming here! We want His name lifted high in this community, transforming it from a community filled with desperate people to a community filled with people Hoping in Jesus Christ!
Over the next four Leadership Blogs, I will be expanding on this dream and giving us some steps to take as we take on God’s dream for Brooklife. Please take time to read and apply each one.

Growth is a journey

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I don’t think we can fully appreciate the incredible transformation which takes place in our lives as we grow from being a tiny tike to a full-grown adult. I mean, you start out as an infant incapable of doing anything for yourself. You slowly learn to hold your head up, then sit up, stand up, walk, and then finally to run. You start out with no communication skills whatsoever, well, except for screaming! You slowly start moving into verbal communication of grunts and groans, then to a couple words here and there, to fragmented sentences, to complete thoughts, to cohesive conversations and the ability to guide others with your words. We go from a place of involuntarily latching on to someone’s finger (this was a hard hit to my ego when I found out that babies grip your finger out of reflex and not because they like you! I was crushed!), to holding a toy, to holding a spoon, to tying a shoe, to plucking out notes on a piano, to swinging a bat, to riding a bike, to driving a car. We are really quite incredible creatures with growth potential that doesn’t stop even at adulthood. We might be done physically developing, but our mental, emotional, relational and spiritual capacities have no limit. We were designed by God to grow. In fact, if you’re not growing, we know that you are dying. So how do we keep this growing going. Specifically, how to we continue to grow and become who God designed us to be.
Growth of any kind is a journey. Maturation requires intentionality and time. It doesn’t just happen naturally, and you just can’t rush it. Most of the important lessons in life require the right voice at the time in the right environment. Spiritual growth best happens in the context of intentional, growth relationships. Our best method of creating these growth relationships are through our small groups. Groups designed to walk us through what it means to follow Jesus with all of our lives. On the front end of spiritual growth, there exists a great need for information, because how can you put into practice what it means to follow Jesus if you don’t really know Who He is or what He wants from you. Once you have started to grasp these things, then you can start practicing living out the Jesus life. And then once you’ve got some practice time under your belt, it’s time to start helping others figure out Who Jesus is and what He is about and then how they can put it into practice. In this journey, you’ll just continue to grow in your knowledge of Who Jesus is and what He is about and your practice of living out the Jesus life. It’s a beautiful thing that shouldn’t surprise us at all, because it’s a Jesus’ thing!
Please, please, please don’t think you have arrived! You have so much potential! Keep growing! And please, please, please don’t place limits on people based on where they are right now. Instead, see their potential and help them become the unique creation God designed them to be!

We are called to be lifesavers

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Lifeguards Rock! As a kid and then teenager, I remember just thinking there was something amazing about lifeguards…the red swimsuit, the life preserver thingy, the whistle and the big white chair! It was like they were on a different level than me. As a little kid, I dreamed of becoming a lifeguard! I don’t know exactly why it appealed so much except I knew it was a position of power, influence and importance. These people were literally there to make sure no one died. They had a responsibility, and it meant something. I still remember a specific time when I heard one of those lifeguards blow his whistle. I was at a wave pool at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, and when I looked up to find where the whistle had come from, all I saw was a streak of red and a lifeguard diving into the pool. I tried to figure out who he was going after, who needed his help, but I couldn’t see. I hadn’t been paying attention to what was going on with anyone else; I was too busy having fun! The lifeguard dove under the water and brought up a little kid. He hauled him back to the side of the pool, did CPR on the child and the child was fine. I was mesmerized by what the lifeguard had done. He had left his position of safety and authority so that he could save that desperate child. That lifeguard would have done no good whatsoever if he had just sat in his seat blowing his whistle or even yelling for the kid to stop drowning. For the lifeguard to make a difference, he had to get into the pool.
When we look into this community, I can’t help but think that Jesus has called us to be much the same as that lifeguard. Jesus placed a call on each and every one of His followers to go out into the world and shine the Jesus light brightly, just like He did. Jesus lived with real people in a real world which involved real problems. Jesus encountered both the beauty of humanity and its ugly underbelly. Jesus didn’t run from the culture; he actually ran to it. He went to parties, participated in religious activities, worked a real job, and talked in the language of the day. He never made it about Him. He came to seek, serve and save that which is lost. He came to redeem, to make all things new. And because of it, He shined brightly. He effervesced with life, love and truth. People were just drawn to Him even if they didn’t agree with Him. He was one of them, with them and yet so, so different. His difference was not forced; it simply flowed from Him having a different agenda. Jesus was for people; whereas, people are for themselves. Jesus knew people would never come to Him so we went to them. He left heaven to meet us where we are at. We’ve got to allow the church to be the church.
Jesus has called us into a high, sacred position as His followers, but that position is not one from which we look down and blow proverbial whistles when people are out of bounds. Instead, we do what Jesus did. We get our hands dirty. We get out into this world and bring Jesus’ love, truth and life to those who are drowning in desperation, without hope, because they haven’t yet met Jesus.

Unsensibly Sensible. Those Who Mourn?. – 7.14.19 – Rob Pilant

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Unsensibly Sensible is such a great way to describe Jesus’ teaching. He pushes past our natural way of thinking into His supernatural way living. This week, we look at His statement, “Blessed are those who mourn.” How can someone who is mourning be the blessed one?

Small Group Questions

  • Please read Matthew 5:4. What things in this world break your heart? What things in this world should break our hearts but don’t? What things in this world break God’s heart?
  • Please recap the story of Jonah 1-4. What parts of the story stand out to you? Why did Jonah despise the Ninevites so deeply? How do you think Jonah rationalized his hatred for the Ninevites?
  • Can you relate to Jonah? Be honest! Why is it seemingly so easy for us to hate people we don’t like? Why would we not hate those we dislike?
  • Jesus flips our entire world on its head with His way of doing life. Why is His way so much better? What would happen if we truly started seeing people, all people, like Jesus sees them? How could you start seeing people through Jesus’ eyes?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Is stubbornness a bad thing?

By Rob's Blog 2 Comments

Stubborn, headstrong, bullheaded, cantankerous, ornery, hardheaded, mulish, pigheaded, and unreasonable. Those are just some of the synonyms for how my parents referred to me and my little brother, Aaron. Aaron was stubborn in a loud way, and I was stubborn in more of a quiet way. We fought a lot. I mean, what else would two incredibly stubborn boys do? So when it came to whatever our latest debate of the day, Aaron’s arrogance came in the form of him having to have you agree that he was right. He was always so convinced that his view point was correct that he literally could not sleep until you agreed with his position on a topic-no matter what topic it was. My form of being stubborn comes off as more agreeable but is probably an even worse form of pride and doggedness. I would debate with him for a while, but when I came to the conclusion that he was never going to have the clarity of mind to see that he was in error, I would just dismiss him. I would then say something spiritual sounding like, “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” Oh, he hated that, and I loved that he did!! In all of those debates/fights, the biggest thing missing was a desire to see another perspective, to see that there is more than one way of looking at things. Truly in most cases, there are many “right” ways to do things. If your initial response to that last sentence was something like, “There might be many ways of doing things, but there is only one right way!” then you might just be as stubborn as I am!

Before I go further, please know that I believe persistence is an incredible gift from God. Otherwise, we would give up at the first sign of trouble, or we wouldn’t stand for anything. We all should be proud that we are resilient and persevering, but we must be careful to ensure we are being tenacious with the right things. When I stubbornly hold to a point without being able to hear a different perspective, I don’t believe I’m being wise. Some of my greatest break throughs in my walk with Jesus have come through people who saw things differently than I did. I made a commitment over 20 years ago now that if someone brought up a perspective that was different than mine about God (or really anything else), I would take the time to research why I believe what I believe versus the other beliefs. Let me tell you, it’s uncomfortable at times. But my faith is stronger because of it. I am stronger because of it. And my witness of Jesus is stronger because of it.

Here’s a quick example. Last night, I was playing sand volleyball with a team I’ve played with since the summer of 2016. One of the young ladies on my team was talking about a great new show she found fascinating. It’s some sort of science show on Netflix with Will Smith as the host. In the middle of telling me about the show, she stopped and said, “Wait, I take that back. Don’t watch that show.” I was very confused. I asked her why she took back her recommendation, and she said it’s because it’s very science based and teaches stuff that goes against the Bible. The old Rob might have debated the point with her on how science is mostly theoretical and how people make statements based on blah, blah, blah…  The old me would have felt the compulsion to defend my stance. But slightly wiser version of me today simply said, “What are you talking about? I love science! I’m not bothered by science at all! I nerd out on the stuff!” I asked her the name of the show, and you better believe I’m going to watch it. Not because I’m going to believe everything in the show, but because if my faith can’t stand up to a tv show, then what kind of faith do I have? And there was a bonus to my conversation with this young lady as well. Later, that evening she brought back up that I was a “priest”. I told her I wasn’t a priest but a pastor but that I could understand how that could be confusing. She then went on to ask if I would be willing to perform her marriage ceremony for her. I just wonder if that opportunity would have happened if my stubbornness had led the way in my conversation with her.

Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is the best choice for keeping a relationship alive. But many times for me, it becomes a cop out, the easy way out. I’ve got to do my homework. I have to understand why I believe what I believe, and I need to understand why someone else believes what they believe. Our beliefs are tied to our identity. If we don’t take the time to learn the what and why of someone’s beliefs, we aren’t really taking time for them. We’re just stubbornly pushing our agenda without caring for who they are, and they deserve more.

Emotional Intelligence: Enneagram

By Rob's Blog 2 Comments

“I’m not yelling!” Yes, I am one of those who doesn’t think he yells even though others perceive me as yelling. I grew up in a house full of yellers. My family is loud and sarcastic! My family is probably a bit inappropriate for some people! So when someone says I’m yelling, the filter I run it through is the filter of what yelling looked like in my house. With that in mind, I quickly dismiss this person’s observations that I’m yelling because if they want to hear “yelling”, I can show them yelling!

But here’s the thing. Perception is reality for people. You can argue that perception isn’t reality and people should know better, but what good is that when we are trying to communicate with people, to help people, and to live in community. If I want to be able to speak into people’s lives, to help them experience the love of Jesus, to be a life-giver for them, to help them pursue their God-given purpose then I’ve got to exercise some Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

The first time I heard of EQ was at a Global Leadership Summit, where Dr. Travis Bradberry presented what he thought was the most essential attribute of successful people today in any industry. He spoke of how IQ (intelligence quotient) and business acumen were all nice and grand, but without EQ, you’d never be able to make the splash in this world that you could. I’m not going to bore you with a ton of details. You can go look them up for yourself at TalentSmart.com. But, I will tell you that the more I’ve looked into this EQ thing, the more I’ve become a believer. Why? Because it’s based on two simple concepts: knowing yourself and knowing others.

We know we are all different. We have some similarities, but we are unique. That uniqueness is part of God’s design for each and everyone of us. Each of us holds with us a glimpse of the majesty and glory of God. We are not accidental. So to get to know our great God, it makes sense to get to know His creations, and I think you should start with you. The better I understand myself, the better I understand why I do or don’t do the things I do.  When I understand myself, it allows me to start becoming who God created me to be. It requires a lot of sober judgement because I have to admit where I struggle and where I flourish. It also requires that I acknowledge that I don’t know it all, can’t be it all, and that I need help.

So let’s take a step toward getting to know ourselves a bit better. I love personality assessments. I’ve taken a dozen if I’ve taken two! I think they help me be honest with myself. One that is pretty popular in the church world right now is called the Enneagram. It has nine main categories and is pretty accurate on describing what motivates you and how that effects the way you live. You can take a free Enneagram assessment by going to this website: assessment.yourenneagramcoach.com. Once you’ve taken the assessment, I’ve found the definitions of each type extremely helpful on this site: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions.

I think it would be great to sit down, take the assessment and then see if you agree with the results. Now the more honest you are in your responses, the more accurate the assessment will be. If you don’t think you agree with the results, just ask your spouse or close friend what they think. Let me share a word of warning. Every personality type has a “dark side.” You know why? Because every one of us has a dark side. It doesn’t do us a “hill of beans” to take an assessment like this unless we can admit that we have room for growth. Some of us have a lot of room for growth, and I put myself on the top of that list!

I can’t wait to hear your results. In fact, I’d love it if you would share your results with me. Just email me what number the assessment said you are and whether you agree with it or not! If you share yours, I’ll share mine!

Coming up next time, we’ll talk about some next steps in this Emotional Intelligence Conversation!

Are we paying attention?

By Rob's Blog One Comment

I remember thinking to myself, “This guy actually cares what I think. He’s actually listening to my opinion. Why would he care what I think?” At the time, I was a sophomore in college sitting in the office of the Executive Vice President of my college. Somehow, I had pulled off the dream gig of being Dr. Shoemaker’s personal assistant. I can honestly say that I have no idea how it happened. No one in all my life had garnered as much respect from me as Dr. Shoemaker had. He was the best professor. He pulled off cool even though he was 30+ years older than I. He drove a Buick LeSabre and, somehow, even made that cool! He was the man, and he was my hero. He was asking my opinion, and then, genuinely listening to my response. He had piles of work on his desk, but he stopped to hear from me. That day, I started to believe I might actually be able to make a difference in this world. I started to believe I might have something to contribute. Why? Because someone I looked up to and respected to took time to honor me with his attention.

We live in a world that, itself, seems to have an attention deficit disorder. I mean look at the definition and see if it doesn’t sound like our culture today: “Any of a range of behavioral disorders occurring primarily in children, including such symptoms as poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.”  We are so busy and distracted by so many things We are running at full speed, and I’m afraid we are missing the most important things. Unfortunately, it happens in the church too. I look back at my last month, and it was a bit insane. Yes, we had an awesome Easter Egg Drop (turned Hunt/Dig), Good Friday service, and Easter services. I’m overwhelmed by how God is using Brooklife to make an impact in this community. But in the middle of all that impact, we can easily lose sight of sitting down and asking someone what they think and letting them know they matter. Who knows where that conversation will take the person? It might be what God uses to light a fire in them…a fire that will give them the confidence to take on the great big dream God has designed for them to live out.

I know I’m no Dr. Shoemaker, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speak life into someone’s soul and let them know that they are an incredible masterpiece of God and matter a ton in this world. It reminds me of what Jesus said to the disciples when they tried to shew the children away from Him. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14).” You might not be a Dr. Shoemaker either. But, God has given each of us a sphere of influence, and we must make sure we use it to bring life to someone’s soul and, in doing so, help bring the Kingdom of God to this desperate world.

Church Through the Eyes of a Guest

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So, by far, it was one of those most intimidating of experiences in life. Rachel and I had picked the place out, but we really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, we had been to this kind of place before, but each one is so different and has their own nuances. I remember actually spending time thinking about what I was going to wear. I wanted to fit in and didn’t want to be the odd ball! When we arrived, it was a bit confusing on where we were supposed to park and where the entrance was. There were two, so we just went for the one that was closest. The trepidation intensified, and we freaked out a bit about being complete strangers there. We wouldn’t know anyone. At least, we didn’t think we would. And then we had the thought, what if we do know someone here. How would we explain why we are here? Once we had entered, then came the fear of trying to find the main attraction. How do we get where we are supposed to go? Once there, what’re we supposed to do? We didn’t want to stand out as the weirdos. It was so awkward!

Guess where we were. Visiting a church one Sunday morning when I was off from Brooklife. I’m a pastor. I’ve been inside more churches than most people. I know how church works and what it is about. I was familiar with this church, even though I had never been there. I know how typical services work and know most of the ins and outs on which most churches operate. Yet, I, the pastor, was freaked out! It made me realize how desperate someone has to be to enter the doors of a church. Their world has to be a wreck; a catastrophe must have occurred in their world. They are looking for something they can’t find anywhere else in their circles. So, they are looking for hope, for some help, for God. I honestly have no clue how they do it, but it did make me ask the question, “How can we make it easier for people?”

I started thinking through strategies. Having people with big smiles at the front doors (which is awesome) might make someone smile, but would it put them at ease? Yes, it will a little. Then once they enter the building, they will be warmly greeted by several people. That’s gotta help a ton! But would it put them at ease? The service can be well thought out, and we can explain everything we’re doing to take away the awkwardness. Would it put them at ease?

We do all these things and so much more, but none of them is as valuable as this one thing:
a friend of theirs meeting them in the parking lot and walking into church with them. All of a sudden, they’re not worried about where to go. They’re not worried about not fitting in ’cause  his/her friend gives them the skinny on what to expect. They’re not worried about looking foolish; they’ll just do whatever their friend does. They still may be a little nervous because it’s a new experience. But, it’s the exciting kind of nervous because “I’m safe. I’m with my friend.”

When it comes to what we do as followers of Jesus, there might not be anything as important as building friendships, real ones with real people. Then, when the door opens up to have a God-conversation, you are able to invite those friends to come with you to Brooklife where you’ll be their host. People need you. People are hurting and desperate for love, hope, peace, and belonging. We can give that to them…if we build real friendships with real people in our real world who need the Hope of Jesus.