Rob’s Blog

Cultural Trends: DIFM

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“I do it myself!!!” I would love to say that I’m pulling that quote from one of my daughters when they were two years old. But, I have pretty much said this as an adult. I have a very strong, ingrained spirit of doing things for myself…at least I used to. I find myself shifting to a different mindset. For example, I used to be a PC guy. I loved the idea of building a computer from the ground up, installing my own RAM and exchanging hard drives to looking for the latest software that no one had found yet. Now, I just want the computer to work. I want it to do what I want it to do when I want it to do it. Instead of doing many of the things I used to do for myself, I’m willing to let someone else take care of it for me for a reasonable cost. As hard as it is for me to process, I can now see the day when I stop mowing my yard and pay someone else to do it. Why? It wouldn’t be due to lack of ability, but I have such a busy life. When I look at the priorities which are demanding my time and energy, mowing the lawn and messing with computers falls pretty low on my list. And I’m not the only one. In a recent blog by Carey Niewoff, a Christian pastor and blogger, he cited that we our culture is moving from a “DIY” (Do It Yourself) to a “DIFM” (Do It For Me) mentality. Everything is prepackaged. We pay the extra few bucks to have the prepackaged “Lunchable” when it would be a lot cheaper to buy the individual ingredients and put them together ourselves. We go out to eat way more than we used to as a culture. We like it for people to do it for me.
So how does this impact the church? Well, our culture’s consumer mentality has been kicked into overdrive. People are looking for something that is quick and easy when it comes to church and, at the same time, wanting something with depth. It’s quite the conundrum. How do we make church quick and easy while at the same time providing the depth it needs to be effective. The answer is multi-faceted, but let me emphasize a couple points. First, people are still willing to invest high amounts of time, energy and money into things they consider valuable. We have to make what we are doing as a church “feel” valuable to people. We know it is, but they need to feel it. We need to talk about how Jesus’ way is the actually the best way to have a meaningful life. We also have to make the steps for getting into the church, groups and serving very doable. If it is too big a step, people will just opt out. But if we can cast the vision for how their lives can have the meaning they so desperately desire and put them on a path of faith with the next steps clearly marked, then I believe not only will people be willing to go “All-In”, they will actually do it. But they’re going to need us to help them make those steps! That’s perfect, because that’s what God has called us to do.

MukMetro Area Cultural Trends

By Rob's Blog
MukMetro Area Cultural Trends
Who is Bob Dylan??? Now I know that’s a stupid question, but it is a real one for me! As many of you know I came from a whacky background where my family did not listen to any kind of music except certain approved “Christian” music. Bob Dylan was definitely not approved. Now I’ve heard of Bob Dylan over the years but, to be honest, he hasn’t been that impressive to me cause I really wasn’t alive during  that era. However, as I was considering what I wanted to share with you today, the phrase that popped into my head was “The times they are a changing’”. My curious mind wondered where in the world that phrase came from and lo and behold, it is none other than a classic Bob Dylan song. I decided to look up the song, listen to it and read through the lyrics. If you have a couple minutes you should take a listen.
I must say that I wasn’t that impressed with Dylan’s vocals, but the lyrics are powerful and relevant, even today. We live in a world where nothing is ever sitting still. Yes, we are still dealing with the same basic human problems that humanity has always had, but they are fashioned in very unique and real-world today ways. Technology is changing at a pace that is break-neck and shows no sign of slowing. Many businesses are changing their complete approach to strategizing because of the speed of these cultural shifts. It used to be a no-brainer that you should have a ten year strategic plan. But now, many companies are shifting to a 1-3 year plan because they believe that with the advances in technology, ten years from now will be such a different cultural climate that their plans will be completely irrelevant. And, believe it or not, this MukMetro area is no exception.
Over the next several blog posts, I am planning on sharing shifts and changes that have already made their way into our worlds and changes I believe are coming. Why? Because we have a message that never changes: God loves people so much He sacrificially died and rose again to give them life if they will receive that love. But, that message must be delivered in a relevant manner. We must know our community if we have hope of helping them find and receive the love and truth of God we so desperately want each of them to experience.

Me or We?

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Lebron James can’t even hold a candle to Michael Jordan! There should be absolutely no question who the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) is. If you actually think Lebron James deserves that title over MJ, then I’m not sure we can be friends, and…I’m not kidding! I could take the next hour of your time to defend my reasoning, but I know most of you would stop within the first thirty seconds. But let me at least make my case on one point that is extremely relevant to today’s thought. You can try to argue against this point, but you’d be wrong. Lebron James is one of the greatest individual basketball athletes ever. He might be the greatest basketball athlete ever. He’s taller and bigger than MJ. But when it comes to how Lebron plays the game versus how Jordan played the game, one thing becomes obvious. Lebron needs other great players to make himself good while Jordan took average players and made them incredible players when they played on his team. Jordan had this amazing ability to make those around him better. He challenged them, grew them, pushed them and helped them own their skills and abilities. It’s stunning to think back on the players that Jordan had around him when they won all those championships. There were a couple of greats, but most weren’t great until they got on Jordan’s team.
This ties directly into how we should be leading the teams and groups God has entrusted into our leadership. We have the ability to use our leadership to elevate ourselves and our own prowess, or we can choose to use our leadership to make those on our team better, to help them become everything God designed them to be. I love how the Apostle Paul is always talking about how we are better together. We are the body of Christ. None of us is the ultimate Christian with the ultimate Christian skills. Rather, we all have roles to play within the body: “4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12:4-6). Paul then goes on to talk about each of us having different primary strengths, which helps each of us understand the roles we will find fulfillment in the most. What if we saw our leadership roles as helping people understand their gifting and then challenging them to use their gifts and cheering them on when they do? What if we saw our purpose as much more then making sure they not only knew what to do and when to do it, but we helped them understand how God uniquely designed them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created? What if we helped them become the amazing creations God designed them to be?
For me, and I think God too, that would be the way for each of us to become the GOAT! Although I’m not sure that should be our goal, but it at least gets us heading in the right direction. I’d love for you to take some time the next couple of weeks and work through the following questions and see if God reveals some ways you can help your team be everything God created them to be.
  • What is God’s dream for this group of people?
  • What do I have to offer my team? What does my team need that I can’t provide?
  • What is keeping me from leading this team at the next level?
  • What will this look like if it goes well?

Whom Do You Inspire?

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She lied to me. There’s no doubt about it. My wife, who met me almost four years later, can attest to it. Her name was Sue Aubrecht. She was the brand new teacher at my tiny little Christian school. She had red hair and a temper to match!  It had been a while since we had a music program, so she came in to rekindle a love for music in the hearts of the students. Music had always been an interest of mine. My parents made me take piano lessons, and I sang in kid’s choirs and even in the junior high choir. But, it was a side interest; as you know, basketball was my focus. But when she announced that we would be starting a new choir, it didn’t interfere with basketball so I signed up. Her passion for the choir was contagious, and I found myself more and more drawn to it. One day, she stopped me to tell me that I had a really nice voice and a ton of potential. I don’t know about you, but when someone I highly admire says something like that to me, it makes an indelible print on my life. That day was the start of my music career. Fast forward several years to me auditioning for a traveling singing team where my now wife and I had our first significant interaction. Significant not because I wowed her with my vocal abilities, but in her words, “He sure is cute, but he can’t sing a lick!” Thankfully, she didn’t tell me what she really thought until much later in our relationship. Just to be blunt, I wasn’t very good, but I did have potential. Thanks not only to Mrs. Aubrecht but also Mrs. Cash and then Mr. Hancock, I was coached to a place where I became a decent singer, and I didn’t stop there. I kept working on singing and working and working and working until I actually became pretty good and served a church by being worship pastor for almost 15 years. Where did it start? One conversation with me at fifteen when someone whom I admired and I knew cared about me inspired me by saying “I see in you ______.”
God has given us a high position of influence in people’s lives. We have been given the power to inspire, deflate or miss people. I’d say by how I read the Bible, we are called to inspire. We have been given our positions in people’s lives to help them see how God has gifted them to make a difference in other people’s lives. We can help people become who God has designed them to be. People need someone to believe in them. I get it. Now, this is risky…to put yourself out there and say you believe in somebody, but that somebody desperately needs somebody to believe in them! They need you to use the words God has given you about them, and then they need you to walk with them as they take on God’s call on their lives. This is what leadership is all about. Leadership is influence.
If “The Best Is Yet To Come” at Brooklife, it is going to require more than doing the hard work of reaching this community; it requires us to empower other leaders to empower other leaders who will then empower even more leaders to go out and make A Place For Everyone! But, it starts with one person. Who’s your one person?
I challenge you to take some time over these next couple of weeks and identify someone you can pour into to help them become who God created them to be. I’ve added some questions to help direct your thoughts:
  • Who has God been putting on my heart? What has God shown you about this person?
  • What do I have to offer this person? What do I not have to offer?
  • What is keeping me from stepping into this person’s life?
  • What will it cost me to do this?
  • How can I do this well?

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

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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.

“Who are you?”

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Hogwash! That’s what it sounds like to me when someone tells me that my identity has nothing to do with what I do. Hogwash! Because what I do flows out of who I am! Now, it might not be accurate to find my identity as a basketball player, especially since I play so little of it these days. But, basketball does help reveal part of who I am as do my ambitions for volleyball, golf, cycling, running, triathlons, swimming, fantasy football, and card games. What they reveal is that I’m someone who likes to compete. I’m wired that way. You can take basketball or any other sport from me, and I will find a way to compete at something else. When God wired Rob, He decided to put a very large competitive gene in me. Not everyone has this gene. Some of you do, and my guess is everyone knows you do! But some are wired very, very differently from me. In fact, every one of you is wired way differently than I, even if we have the competitive gene in common. I am unique. You are unique. You are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of God, and so is everyone, and I mean EVERYONE else.
One of the most fundamental discoveries we must make is who God created us to be. One of the greatest secrets to finding God’s will for your life is simply to understand HOW God designed you. What are you good at? Where do you struggle? What are passionate about? I think it would be a great idea to stop right here and answer those three questions. Grab a sheet of paper or open a file on your device and start answering those questions. Then based on your answers, see if you can start to discern who God designed you to be.
You’re not an accident or an afterthought. You are very important because you are very important to God. You are one of God’s wayward kids who He desperately wants back home. You are loved. You are chosen. You are adopted. You are you, and God is crazy about you! He knows you better than you know yourself, and He wants nothing more than you to want to know Him just as much. He wants you to call Him “Daddy”. When you know who you are in God’s eyes, then you are given the freedom to admit who you are to yourself. God has gifted you in some amazing, unique and specific ways. Who are you? You should really get to know you, and you should like you because God designed you, and He doesn’t make junk! You should also be able to admit that you aren’t great at everything. Some of the things we struggle with are just not things we have an inclination toward and should depend on others for help. Other areas of struggle require us to do some maturing because these struggles are hindering us from becoming who God really designed for us to be. Until we figure them out, we will be greatly limiting how much God can pour out His blessings into our lives.
All of this requires us to stop and think about ourselves in the light of knowing that God loves us and intentionally designed us. “Who are you?” is one of the most core and essential questions each person needs answered. Once you figure out who you are, you’re probably supposed to help someone else figure out who they are. After all, this is A Place For Everyone to Pursue Their God-Given Purpose.

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.