Category

Rob’s Blog

Teaching Styles

By Rob's Blog One Comment

“We need a new cat!” Okay, now if you know me, you know I would never utter those words! I’m just not a cat guy. Those words actually come from a story, that has stuck with me through the years, and goes something like this. There once was a church where every Sunday before the service began, someone was designated to go and put the church cat on a leash in the front of the church. This was done every Sunday for years. Then one day, the poor cat died. After giving it an appropriate burial, someone went out and bought a new cat, and they continued the tradition. A newcomer to the church asked why they did this. No one seemed to know. It has always just been our tradition was the reply. But now everyone was curious. There happened to be one elderly member of the church who had been there since the beginning. They asked her why. She replied, “Well, that original cat was ornery and would run in through the door when people were entering and would cause a horrible ruckus. Finally, someone made the wise decision to leash him out front during the service. Problem solved!” Too funny! The cat had no value to the service, and yet, it had become a tradition, an essential part of their worship that meant…nothing.

That story has always led me to ask “why” questions like, “Why do we do what we do the way we do it?” So today I’d liked to answer one of those questions., “Why do we preach/teach the way we do at Brooklife?” Specifically, why do we sometimes teach in an expository manner and sometimes in a topical manner? Great question! First, let me define the terms. Pure Expository teaching is when you work through a book in the Bible. Some would go so far as teaching their way from Genesis to Revelation. The goal would be to not skip anything but teach exactly what the original author taught in the order they wrote it. Topical teaching is more based on dealing with the specific struggles or needs of the congregation and then finding biblical passages that address the topic. Topics could vary from marriage, family, finances, spiritual growth, sexuality, etc.

Secondly, why do we use both styles? Because I believe we need both approaches. I think there is incredible value in working through a book of the Bible. It gives historical context and context within the book. It is incredibly insightful and gives a depth you just cannot get cherry picking throughout Scripture. But, its weakness lies in that it doesn’t address today’s biggest needs as often as I believe most of us need them addressed. That’s where the topical messages come in. They help us work through concepts, which need God’s direction, that might only get addressed a few times in the whole Bible. Think about this. We all believe in good marriages, but how many times is marriage addressed in the Bible? Not nearly as many as you would think! So, we intentionally discuss some topics on a regular basis to meet our real needs.

I believe that a good balance between the two styles helps us gain a fuller understanding of what God revealed to us through His Word and helps us deal with the real problems we face every day. In both styles, we always are seeking out God’s truth and love and how it applies to our every day lives of creating places for everyone. We desperately need to understand God’s truth so that it can transform our lives, because we know He loves us desperately and is guiding us to the absolute best for our lives.

New Logo

By Rob's Blog 2 Comments

“We’re getting married!!!” Now this is one of those pronouncements pregnant with anticipation, whether said by the bride-to-be, who expects everyone to “oohs and ahs” and congratulate her with a big hug as she extends her hand to display “the ring”, or by the groom-to-be, who expects punches in the arm and good natured comments like, “What are you thinking? You’re life as you know it is over!!!” We all have expectations! And on Sunday, February 3rd, thankfully, our expectations were met and even exceeded with the presentation of the next step we are taking in owning the dream God has given us for this community. We are all about creating A Place For Everyone to Experience the Love of Jesus, Find Life-Giving Relationships and Pursue Their God-Given Purpose!

I believe the logo is a great representation of that dream. It uses the geo pin concept to represent the “place” where people can find Jesus, and then, the “b” in the logo shows the journey to what should be the center of our worlds, Jesus. The open space at the top gives the idea of both being open to everyone coming in but also to us going out to bring people in. I am very proud of what our team has come up with, and I received so much enthusiastic feedback that I am confident we have taken the right step.

The other thing I was excited about sharing is how our congregation knows our mission and what we are about. Not much could be more exciting than that! We are all on the same page! I love it! There’s not much that can stop a group of people united together with one focus, especially when that focus is on fulfilling the dream God has called us to and empowered us for. Big things, GOD-sized things, are coming in our future! I am so excited to be a part of what God is doing in this community through His church, Brooklife.

With all of that being said, what’s next? We’ve got to get busy growing in our walk with Jesus! We need to truly experience His love and direction in our lives. The more we experience His truth and life, the better our lives will be. Then, we will naturally overflow with His love into our community. People in this community are just as lost as we once were. People need to know who Jesus is, what He is about, and why it matters. We’ve got to make disciples of Jesus, who are able to go out and make more disciples. In our context, that means we need to be raising up new adults, student and group leaders. To be A Place For Everyone we have got to get out into this community so we can bring Jesus’ love to people where they are at. We have to have a heart for those who have not yet found the amazing love, hope and life, which only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus. We have a huge calling! There are over 50,000 people in this community and we cannot rest or relax until everyone of them has a safe place!

Thanks so much for embracing this dream and helping equip others to grow to be an effective part of accomplishing this dream. You are the heroes of Brooklife Church! Keep up the great work! We can’t and won’t accomplish this dream without you!

Leadership Training #1

By Rob's Blog No Comments

As promised, here is our first online leader training! I hope you will take the time to watch it as I explain what I believe is the biggest problem effecting America’s church today. It might surprise you what it is, but it is very distressing. Each of us working to lead others well in helping them to overcome this obstacle will move them to a much better chance of living out the “Well Done!” life God has called each of us to!

Excellence

By Rob's Blog No Comments

I hate this statement, “Good enough for who it’s for.” Maybe that’s a new one for you, and to be honest, I can’t remember where I first heard this statement or identify a particular time someone said it. I do know it’s been said to me many, many times. In fact, worst of all, I’m sure I used it at one time or another. Why does it stir up such emotion in me? Because it is such a loaded statement. It implies that some people are not deserving of my best. It implies that some people are not worth as much as I. It implies that some people are inferior to others. This flies in the face of everything we believe about people. God thought so much of each and every person that He laid His life down for them. He values each and every person that has ever lived as much as He values you. There are no classes of people with God. Everyone of us are wayward kids that He is trying to help back to life. Paul captures this beautifully in Galatians 3 “26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  God values each person higher than any of us can possibly imagine. It’s crazy but it’s true.

Now, I get why this statement can sort of make sense in the world we live. Some people have the power to seemingly make you or break you. They can help you along in life. So, when you have the opportunity to do something for someone like that, it’s always tempting to go the extra mile. After all, by scratching his or her back, you’re actually scratching your own. Whereas, when you are doing something for someone who has either very little power to help you or none at all, why would I treat them in the same way as someone who can help me? From a world perspective, the statement “Good enough for who it’s for” makes perfect sense. But, it must not ever make sense to a follower of Jesus.

Remember this little passage that Jesus shared in Matthew 5, “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  This is so countercultural! Why would I do that? Because God values your enemy as much as He values you, and what was God willing to forgive to love you?

So then I guess the statement “Good enough for who it’s for” could actually work for followers of Jesus, because it would demand that we do everything we do for people so valuable to Jesus that He willingly died for them. In that case, our level of excellence would always be top tier. Take that a step further, and if everything we do is actually for Jesus, then how good is good enough? This is why one of our Guiding Principles in becoming A Place For Everyone is Excellence: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. For the follower of Jesus there really isn’t any other option.

Succession

By Rob's Blog No Comments

All good teachers have to be mean sometimes…

Looking back, I now really appreciate the teachers who gave me a hard time and pushed me to be more, but at the time, it just seemed like they were being mean. Mr. Henderson was one of those great teachers. You’ve probably heard me talk about him before. He passed a little over a year ago. He was a pain in my butt that helped me become the man I am today. Mr. Henderson had a passion for answering the “why?” questions in life. He’d never let me get away with the easy answer. He always frustrated me, because he measured my success by my potential, not how I compared to everyone else. He saw something in me, and he wasn’t going to let me get away with anything less. He poured into me because he saw me as a worthy investment. Now, that might make you think he thought I was something special, and he did. But he saw all of his students that way. He saw it as his goal to pass on what he had learned so that we could have a greater impact in our world of influence. Mr. Henderson was building a legacy. It was so interesting when I saw on Facebook that he had died. All of the kids I went to school with were posting how much Mr. Henderson meant to them and how he had changed their lives. Much of my curiosity and “nerdiness” was fostered by Mr. Henderson in my adolescent years. I am incredibly grateful for his passion to prepare the next generation to take his place. He knew he wouldn’t live on this earth forever, so he decided to plant a bit of himself in each of his students and now he lives on through us!

This perspective is so incredibly core to what it means to be followers of Jesus. There is no way any one of us could reach this entire community in a meaningful way with the love of Jesus. And even if you somehow could reach this entire community and were able to your whole life, what happens when you die? Who carries on the mission? The mission is too important for any one of us to hold by ourselves. People- eternal souls are at stake, and the very best way to make sure every person Experiences the Love of Jesus, Finds Life-Giving Relationships and Pursues Their God-Given Purpose is to Pass It On To Move It On. We Value Succession.
The mission is straightforward:

 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:19-20.

In and of itself, making disciples is Passing It On. The “To Move It On” part comes in when we recognize that to keep it moving on we have to equip people to do what we do. Not only does it propel what we are doing into the future when we are not around, but it releases more followers of Jesus into this community creating A Place For Everyone. God’s mission for His church is way too big for any one of us, any three of us, or any hundred of us. God’s mission is for each and all of us to Pass It On To Move It On.

Team

By Rob's Blog One Comment
So I need to make a confession. During my high school basketball career, I was a ball hog. In my defense, no one else on my tiny little Christian school team seemed to even know what a basketball was. Every time I’d pass them the ball, they’d either drop it, airball a shot, or basically, give the ball to the other team. So, it was just more effective for me to hang on to the ball. Oh and another comment in my defense, the coach encouraged my behavior! To be honest, it worked…really well. We were one of the better teams in our (tiny Christian) conference. But then, something very unforeseen happened. It was the morning before our conference tournament began. Our coach had called a special “walk-through” practice. We had devised a few new plays, and he wanted to make sure we were performing them well. During one of these plays, my teammate got a little over zealous and ran into me, sending me flying to the floor. I landed right on my hip bone. Immediately black and blue bruise colors appeared on my hip. It wasn’t a serious injury in the long-term, but for the next couple of days, I could barely run. Now, I know not everyone reading this understands the game of basketball, but one thing is extremely necessary to the game, running! I could not. What I did during that tournament more resembled skipping than running. It was awful, and because our team was predominantly me, we did horribly in the tournament. Our team wasn’t really a team, and basketball is a team sport. The same holds true for church. God designed “church” to be a “we” thing not a “me” thing.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture comes from Paul’s letter to the churches in Corinth. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Every one of us followers of Jesus are essential. Every one of us has been especially gifted by God to fulfill his or her role in the church. We are each called to unite with one another to together be the church in this community. We cannot do it without each other. 
This leads us to our Guiding Principle: We Value Team.
We is better than me. There are no super Christians. We all need each other. We’re each better at some things than others, and we’re all a little more shaky in some areas than others. But together, just like God designed it, we are something beautiful that God can use to transform this community! I don’t know about you, but that gets me fired up! We don’t need a ball hog. We need each other. To truly be A Place For Everyone to experience the love of Jesus, find life-giving relationships and fulfill their God-given purpose, I need you, and you need me. That’s the way God-designed it, and that’s what God will bless!

Authenticity

By Rob's Blog One Comment
I don’t know if you saw the movie or not, but it was quite an intriguing one. It’s based off a real guy named Frank Abagnale Jr., a con artist. The movie has a thrilling plot as it follows this guy, pretending to be all kinds of people, conning just about everyone he meets! Tom Hanks plays the FBI agent who pursues Frank (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and eventually catches him and turns him into a good guy. In the end, the movie leads us to basically “fall” for this con artist. As they say, “Only in the movies.” A con artist, who writes over $4,000,000 in bad checks, gets romanticized into someone we all respect.
In real life, the thought of someone conning us disgusts us. To say someone is a fake, a phony, a poser, a hypocrite, a charade is maybe the worst insult you could give someone. And unfortunately, many churches have that label placed on them and, if I’m being candid, rightly so. Churches say that God loves everyone. Yet, churches can be some of the most prejudiced places on the planet. Churches say they believe in truth; yet, they water down that truth to become more palatable. Churches claim to be following Jesus, but the paths of the lives of the people in the church are no different than the neighbor who doesn’t even believe in God. Churches claim to want to shine brightly for Jesus; however, the only place you can see their light is if you walk into their building. And that’s only a few disparities.
I am so thankful that does not describe Brooklife. We love people genuinely. We care for all people…really. We speak truth and love. Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. No other way works. We don’t offend for the sake of offending, but we also will not water down Jesus’ truth just because we don’t want to offend. We also do not pretend to be better than we are. We are all messed up. We have all failed badly. We have all tried to pretend we are our own gods. We all still struggle with sin, with living in ways we know are not healthy, life-giving and God-honoring. We admit that living the Jesus life is not easy. We admit that living the Jesus life does not result in no problems. In fact, we’ve got problems I didn’t even know about before Jesus came into my life! We are a bunch of sinners saved by Jesus’ grace and love. We haven’t forgotten that, and we must never forget that.
People do not need to be sold a bill of goods. People do not need to think we have everything figured out or think we are perfect. In fact, they need the exact opposite. They need us to be real, to be authentic. We are doing our darnedest to live the Jesus life. We messed it up quite often, but we love Jesus and are trying to love and honor Him more everyday. That’s why one of our Guiding Principles is
We Value Authenticity: Honest with ourselves, real with others.
I love how Jesus was always so real with people. He admits to being tired, hungry, frustrated and angry. If He can admit it, why can’t we. The appeal of the church should never be how awesome the people in the church are. It should always be how amazing Jesus and the work He has done in our hearts is.
We really have issues, and we really have a Savior Who loves us so much He walks with us through our issues. He leads us to life that only He knows how to get, a life of peace, joy, love and security.

Risk

By Rob's Blog No Comments
I gave up on juggling. I don’t know about you, but it just didn’t seem to work. I could do the whole two ball thing but when you added the third, I was lost. It seemed like my mind just couldn’t put it all together. How do you keep it all moving at one time and not get lost in tracking that other ball?? So, I gave up. Why? Because I kept failing. And guess what? I still don’t know how to juggle, and I never will unless I’m willing to risk failing.
Have you noticed that kids are different today than when you grew up? I just had the opportunity to sit down with a bunch of high school juniors and seniors. I was invited to talk with these students about what it means to be a leader. Through the course of the conversation, we came to the topic of what they want to do after they finish their education. Almost every one of them said they would like to travel. When I was growing up, when I said I wanted to travel, it meant I wanted to go to Florida for vacation. To be honest, California was about the most exotic place on my radar. I mean, that was like a whole different world! But these students were not talking about heading over to California. They were talking about literally traveling the world. They wanted to go to places like Ireland, Australia, Great Britain and India. It blows my mind. I didn’t leave the country until I was almost 40 years old, and these students will probably have visited more countries by the time they are twenty-five than I will in my entire life. Is that bad? No, just different.
With our world changing so incredibly, the way we reach our kids with the good news of Jesus’ loving truth is going to look a lot differently than it did for us. In fact, what it took for Jesus to reach you probably looked a lot different than what it looked like for Jesus to reach me. I was listening to a great sermon by Chris Brown, one of the teaching pastors at North Coast Church in California, and he had a great insight on a passage from the Bible that I had read and used to teach so many times. But I had missed something so incredible. Here’s the passage:
Matthew 4:18-20, 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
So here’s the insight. If Jesus walked up to you today, would He invite you to be a “fisher of men”? You might be tempted to say, “Yes.” But the answer would be “No.” Why do I say that? Because Jesus wasn’t talking to people who live in Southeast Wisconsin when He shared His vision of Simon and Andrew becoming fishers of men. He was talking to fishermen who fished for a living. Jesus spoke to them in the language that made sense to them. He reached them right where they were at. If Jesus were speaking to us today, He wouldn’t be wearing a robe with sandals. He’d probably be wearing a pair of jeans! Jesus adjusted His approach to the people He was speaking to. He was amazing at speaking to people exactly how they needed to hear Him. It doesn’t hurt that He knows everything! We don’t have that advantage, but we also don’t have any excuse to not try. We are commanded to go into the world and make disciples. If we are going to do that, we are going to have to speak the language of the people we are trying to reach.
We are not always going to get that right. In fact, we are going to mess it up pretty badly many times. But we cannot give up because if we give up trying to reach people for Jesus, we give up on the people Jesus’ loves. We have to try, to attempt and, yes, to fail in order to succeed. We don’t just fail to fail. We fail to learn how to better succeed at helping people find Jesus. And since our world is constantly, continually changing, we have to be constantly, continually taking risks to learn how to bring Jesus’ way, truth, life and love to people. That’s why one of our Guiding Principles is:
We Value Risk: Our passion to succeed far outweighs our fear of failure.
Our passion to fulfill God’s command for us to make disciples must always outweigh our fear of failing in the attempt. We must become A Place where Everyone can Experience the Love of Jesus, Find Life-giving Relationships and Fulfill their God-given purpose.
P.S. I just ordered a set of juggling balls, and I’m not giving up until I figure out this whole juggling thing!

Generosity

By Rob's Blog No Comments
I just don’t know if there is much that makes me smile more than when I see the 300+ Mukwonago Area school teachers, administrators and staff walk through the front doors of Brooklife. This is especially miraculous when you consider that they are NOT using our building for a training or seminar. They are coming to just be blessed, and it’s completely optional.
Why do they come? Because of our generosity. Yes, for some, it might not ever be more than free food, but for many, it will plant a seed in their hearts that this church actually cares about them. We ask nothing in return. We serve them; we feed them; we thank them; we bless them; we say a prayer over them and their food. And then, we cheer them on to their calling of helping our kids discover adulthood.
How does something like this happen? We’ve asked ourselves this question many times, and the answer is quite simple. We started praying, showing up, and displaying care and concern for our schools. But we did more. We stepped into the schools and started asking how we could help. At first, they didn’t believe us when we said we just wanted to be a blessing. They thought we had an agenda. We kept telling them that our agenda was to love and bless because we have been loved and blessed. Eventually, it started working. They’d ask for something, and we’d make it happen. And then they kept asking, and we kept making it happen. We earned their trust. Our extraordinary generosity was being accepted. And after it was accepted, it started making a lot fo people ask the oh so important question, “Why?” And we were so ready to answer that question. We are generous because Jesus has been so generous to us and because we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus by being generous. “We want you to experience the love of Jesus.”
Now, many, many, many people walk through the doors of Brooklife because they have found that we are a church that is not just about talking about loving people but a church that actually does love people with a selfless love. We give love because that is what we are called to do. We show genuine love and compassion in order to earn the right to share the loving truth that will transform their lives as it has already transformed ours. I’m reminded of Jesus words from Matthew 25:
   34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Here’s what we believe: outrageous hearts of generosity cultivate hearts of curiosity. People are looking for something real and true, something that stands out not because it is flashy but because it speaks to their souls. They might not know it yet, but their soul knows they are missing something. By following this incredible Guiding Principle of Generosity, we position ourselves to be the place where they go looking for the reason we are so overwhelmingly generous in our love, concern, and presence! Jesus showed up for us; how can we not show up for the ones He loves?