Revival: The Expansion of our Hearts, our Mission, and our Building

Here is a video that will explain where we believe the Lord is leading us as a church. I hope you find it informative, but more than that I hope it inspires your hearts in light of what God has for us as a church.


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Loving Forward

I like to listen/watch sermons from other preachers. The other day I decided to watch a sermon by the Senior Pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary. I have heard he is a gifted expositor. He is. I believe Colonial was planted  by Pastor Davey in the 80’s. It is a large church and has experienced significant growth through the years, which has entailed several building projects. I have driven by their campus once, and it is indeed beautiful. Clearly, many have been quite generous to establish that kind of brick and mortar presence as a post for the gospel in the Triangle.

Back to that sermon. There was a moment in the sermon I watched where Pastor Davey was recollecting the early years. He recalled how that much smaller group of people had a vision for a church in the future, and they sacrificially gave because they had the people in the current church in mind. I believe Pastor Davey looked at the people in front of him and said: they had you in mind and they were generous for you.

I love that. I love the picture of a group of Christians who are willing to dig down and give generously for people they have not even met yet. I imagine savings were liquidated, vacations were simplified, used cars were purchased instead of new ones, niceties were forgone for a year or two, and/or people who did not give began to give even though it initially felt alien. Why? To glorify God, I hope, but in that vein to bless future generations who would be impacted by the Gospel in that church.

I pray that would be our heart here at CHBC, too. As we consider expanding our facilities, it is our desire not to use the Triangle to make us a great church; but for our church to be useful to the Triangle, for Christ’s sake. Imagine with me a church five, ten, fifteen years down the road. Imagine people impacted by the Gospel who will be part of our community and mission in large part because we enabled our facilities to impact and bless them.

May we love forward.

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Preparing for a Re-Vision Campaign

I am not sure we are going to officially call the season ahead of us as a church a Re-Vision campaign. One, that word can be confusing and ‘they’ say a brand should not need much explaining. But, for the sake of this blog I thought it would be quaint to call our upcoming campaign a Re-Vision campaign as a combination of the two words Revival and Vision. Those two words are what I am asking God for as we proceed to follow him into a season of increased ministry impact. This impact, we believe, will involve us addressing additional space needs for our church. But, the point of even addressing those needs is the greater purpose of becoming a church more equipped, more passionate about, more committed to, more anchored in, more depended upon the Holy Spirit, in order to be used of God in greater ways here in the Triangle and even in the world. I hope to begin a series of blogs as we approach this re-vision campaign. So, I certainly don’t mean revision in terms of changing our theology or our mission, or that things are broken and need to be fixed. What I mean is that God likes to send fresh vision to his people in order to lead them into deeper relationship with Him. We believe he is doing that for us now.

I want to begin by simply putting before you a list of prayer requests for this campaign. In these requests, I hope you see your pastor’s heart, I desire for you to see your leaders’ hearts, I want you to see the realities behind a potential brick and mortar project, and I long that we all hunger for revival in deeper ways. Here you go:

Please pray that…

We seek God’s face together

Our desire to invest in our church would be driven by kingdom vision

Our leadership will lead with utmost integrity, earnestness, transparency, and wisdom

We all grow not just in a willingness to give generously to this campaign but that we become more generous in general

Principled givers would become influencers in other people’s lives out of their experience of joyful giving

Irregular givers become regular

Non-givers become so taken by the Gospel that the idea of giving away lots of money as a lifestyle would be seen as a joy producing and grace bestowing life

People would receive Christ during our campaign

Those who feel distant and indifferent about our church would become connected and inspired

Money would not be the only gift we give, but many would become generous with time and talent, too

Some who will not or cannot be inspired by our church would make the hard but wise decision to consider what kind of church would inspire them to taste and see the goodness of God, if not this one

God would lead all of us in a unified sense of his will concerning a building and increased ministry impact and that we would believe he will provide

We ask boldly of God, trusting he can absolutely astonish us at how he will provide

We would all grow in sanctification in general during this campaign

If we end up with a beautiful building addition and other resources for ministry, we will be good stewards of such things

Most of all, God would receive great glory!!!!



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Approaching Halloween

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October 27, 2015 · 5:46 pm

Children’s Ministry: Get Your Promise!

Friends, I want to make an appeal and I want to do it gospel-style. What does that mean? It means that I want to make a call to action but one that is squarely based  on promises. As I have said, repeatedly, all of God’s commands are a promise in disguise. What I am about to invite you to, namely, the opportunity of investing in our children, is also a promise in disguise. I want to lay out a set of promises that are the foundation for investing in the lives of our children at the Chapel Hill Bible Church.

  1. God will use your time, energy, and talents to make Christ known in the lives of our children, if you will give it. He will! God does not let gospel motivated investment go to waste. We all want to get a return on our investments. Well, this is a for sure. This is a win-win. If you will invest your time, energy, and talents in our children, you will see fruit. God will work. Children will be saved, discipled, and equipped to be disciple-maker kids.
  2. Our church, as a whole, will be blessed if our children’s ministry is highly invested in. Jesus really cared about children. Just look up “Jesus” and “children” in a concordance or Bible program and check it out (Luke 17 for instance). There is something about loving and investing in kids that reflects an overall disposition of obedience and worship toward God. The family unit is also a massive health indicator of the church. When the family is healthy, the church is healthy. So much of what we are about in our children’s ministry is not replacing parents but rather equipping parents, and partnering with them, to disciple their children. So, when we have enough hands on deck to do this well, all of us will flourish.
  3. The future of the church is largely about how we disciple the next generation. I know you’ve heard this before, but this is true. This is a grand promise! Our children’s ministry is not babysitting so parents can focus during our services. It is about teaching the Bible, mentoring, and training in righteousness. It is about enabling kids to prize and savor Christ in all things! If we do this right, then these are the future men and women who will lead, teach, protect, and serve the church. Think about a next generation who know their Bibles, who know that mission is not a choice but a call on all believers, that the church is a sweet organization, that prayer is essential, and that God is infinitely wonderful!
  4. You will grow in your faith, grow in Biblical knowledge, see the heart of Jesus, be more pliable toward the Spirit, and more obsessed with the gospel, if you will give of yourself to disciple our kids. Serious. You know this is true. Enough said.
  5. You will have a lot of fun. The work of God is fun!

Next step? Pray about it. Check what I said against Scripture. Call or email our Children’s Minister, Josh Cooley ( Just talk with him. We need teachers. But, talk with Josh and if teaching is certainly not your thing, there are many other roles.

What is the need? Well, we want to drive this by vision, not necessarily need, but here is the deal: we are staffed at about 60%. That’s not good. We are combining classes left and right, and this is not a good longterm solution, especially if we want excellence. We want to make this great for our church family but we also want to be a church that is attractive and inviting for new families. When we have visitors and they see how understaffed we are, that is not a great first impression. Some will stay because they know we are in process, but others know there are other churches with good teaching, Biblical vision, and a much more staffed children’s ministry.

Friends, let’s do this! Spread the word. We have great leadership in place. Great vision. Biblically driven curriculum. I am inviting you to see Jesus in greater depth. Nothing less. Join our children’s ministry team!


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The New Auditorium Look

Some folks may have walked into our auditorium on Sunday and wondered if they were at the right church. Things looked a bit different. While I have heard only positive feedback, I imagine some folks quietly thought to themselves: Am I comfortable with this? Does this portent a direction and a set of priorities that will compromise our core vision and mission to stay focused on the Gospel? Are we caving to social pressure and trying to be hip and attract as many people as possible? Is this us? I thought it might be helpful to unpack the reasons why the auditorium experienced a bit of an aesthetic overhaul.

First, some history. Chapel Hill Bible Church was planted in 1971 as a group of believers who wanted an evangelical church to bear witness to Jesus in Chapel Hill. It met at Gerard Hall on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill for several years. I wish I could have been a part of those years. From the stories I hear, it warms my heart to think about this church and its life in that period of its history. Many lament those days are over, days of meeting in a rented space, with the bare minimum of devices to set up and plug in to make a simple worship gathering occur. CHBC was a church committed to the essentials, so the thought of putting a lot of time and money in a building and aesthetics and media was just not a priority. In fact, as I have been told by key founders, it was actually a priority to stay away from those things. There was something important about viewing a building or space as just that, a building and space. The church was the family of God, not a building. The NT seemed to represent the church as a Jesus-devoted, ragtag group of people, thrown to the margins, obeying and worshiping and waiting for Jesus. The idea of buildings, branding, professional leadership, media, etc, was not a priority. I admit, it is hard to argue that the NT early church was not a building-less, smart phone-less group of disciples.

However, and this I also get from key early leaders, a response to excess can sometimes lead to an overcorrection that also leads to excess in the opposite direction. So, for many years our church eschewed aesthetics as it pertained to its building and space in favor of a sparse atmosphere. This decision was made in earnest, with good motives, and with pure hearts. I love that emphasis. But, sometimes the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. While many in the church really loved art and aesthetics, and were/are gifted artisans, and art was occasionally installed in hallways and during functions, the desire was to keep some distinction between art and our worship life, and the art that was accepted was either high or folk art. Most things modern were avoided, due to fears that things might become about appearance, numbers, and compromise. To be sure, many churches were cleverly devising brand image and high tech media in order to attract people, and yet there was little substance once people arrived and got plugged in.

Now, I value the decisions made to stay away from that mindset and ministry strategy. But, I think there is room for balance. In fact, in overreactions one misses out on blessings and opportunities that God has given as a good thing. One of the reasons I think the Lord brought me here is that he designed me with the same core theological and ministry values as CHBC, but I don’t share some of the cultural factors and shapers in my approach to life and ministry. I wonder if part of what I and the leadership team that God has assembled will add to this community is a balance of principle and progress, with both being expression of careful Biblical thought, wisdom, and worship.

With that said, we felt like it was time to add some aesthetic grip to our worship space. Let me reiterate, this was not done: to be hip, to signal that everything is about appearance, that we are becoming seeker driven, to reveal we are caving on core ideals to be like other well branded area churches, to draw us away from our mission. Quite the opposite. We believe adding a bit more aesthetics to our life together will enable the following.

  1. As a church we will experience and reflect God’s creativity. God loves beauty. God creates with beauty. Aesthetics and church life go hand in hand. Beauty should not be an idol, but it should not be rejected either, like any other part of creation. I think our worship services will grow deeper and be more vital for all of us precisely because we are inviting a gift God has given to our assembly space.
  2. We will be able to create an atmosphere that will engage people who are visually stimulated. Many people care about how space is devised. Lack of aesthetics, especially along with signals that aesthetics don’t matter, can repulse people who would ordinarily benefit from a Christ-centered, Word-driven worship service. It can hinder mission to not care about appearance. It can stimulate mission to invest in it, with carefulness and wisdom of course. To illustrate, one could dump food on a plate. It might be really good food, but it is just dumped on the plate without any thought for presentation. It looks unappetizing to most people that way. So, a caring chef not only cooks with great ingredients, and prepares with excellence,  but she plates the food with care, aware that the first bite is taken with the eyes. This is just the way God has created the world, and we want to apply this to our church life, too.  *For those of you who don’t care, well, this is not really for you. And, this is where we want to call you to jump in with us, not because it does much for you, but because it does help many people feel comfortable, stimulated, and ready to hear God’s word. If a bit of visual appeal will get a youth, or collegian, or older adult to focus and praise God with us, sit under careful expository preaching, and then plug into community and mission, then I think we need to do this out of a responsibility to faithful gospel ministry.
  3. We will be able to model what it looks like to be a church striving for balance in the middle of the spectrum of ministry application, rather than far to one side. With balance comes tension, the art of sacrificing for others, committing to things not because they are our preference but because it will help others engage the church, and with balance comes the constant need to reflect Scripturally. But, it is worth it. God will bless this commitment to balance. By the way, the changes that have been made in the last few years all put us about in the middle of the spectrum in terms of how progressive our use of media and technology is. If you do the research, you will find that these changes have been modest, slow, and done with theological carefulness. They may seem big because we inhabited a far edge of the spectrum.

So, if you love what you see, great. If you feel neutral about it, that is fine but try and join us in this holistic mission, and one day the particular stage set up might really impact you. If you feel cautious or even put off, try and evaluate your feelings Biblically and theologically. Are there any inherent wrongs in the general commitment to aesthetics as part of a worship space or to the particular way our leaders have chosen to apply that principle in our worship space? If you think there is, come speak with us. We can walk with you in a healthy and respectful discussion. But, if you don’t think it’s an issue of right or wrong, consider some of the points made above.

One of the things this is boiling down to is that we want to be a church on mission, which informs and calls forth certain decisions, in areas we have freedom to do so, to reach people far from God. This is not a numbers things, this is a loving the lost thing. Certain things will not change. Core things. Our preaching will be expository and deep. We will be God centered. Our mission will be about God’s glory. We will value our community and stress relationships. We will not let things be driven by numbers and fame. We will not compete with other churches. But, in order to help people put down walls in order to experience the power of the Gospel in our church, we need to be open to Biblical progress in setting the table and plating the food with excellence and innovation.


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Thankfulness, Open Hands, For Jesus’s Glory

This past Sunday I made three applications with regard to how Christians can continually grow in their worship of Jesus, rather than their religious devotion to their idols. Someone caught me at the end of the service and asked if I could put that in writing. So, here you go. The following are the three ways I think we can inoculate ourselves from idolatry.

  1. Be thankful. Everything we have is a gift of God. Thankfulness is the disposition of our hearts that affirms this reality. If something is inherently wrong, like a sin, we cannot be thankful for it and it needs to be repented of. But, everything that is part of God’s good creation, our talents, opportunities, health, relationships, time, etc, are good things God gives us. So, simply remain in a state of mindfulness that everything you have is a gift. Be thankful. You cannot worship what you believe is a free gift of grace. You cannot become possessive if you don’t feel like you deserved something. You won’t jealously guard an item that was bestowed in mercy. Your idols are things you are currently putting in the category of: deserved, my right, absolute need, my treasure, entitled to, can’t live without. Get those things out of there! Put them in: undeserved, privilege, grace, reminds me of my absolute need for Jesus, reminds me of my ultimate treasure in Jesus. You can’t worship what you are thankful for.
  2. Hold it with open hands. Along with thankfulness comes a posture of openhandedness. If something is a gift, you don’t get to put a white-knuckle grip on it. It is yours to hold. That is called stewardship. But, it is not yours to hoard and cling to. Hold your brain, body, time, education, relationships, marriage, and even children with an open hand. Hold your ministry with an open hand! Along with this posture, you also need to have a willingness to give it right back to God. God gave it. He can take it away. You need to view all that God gives you with that counter-cultural, counter intuitive perspective. It is okay to be bummed if God calls you to give it up or give it back, but you should not be heart broken, angry, or self pitying. It truly is a freeing experience to hold all of life with an open hand, all the while trusting that God holds you and will never let you go. You cannot worship something you hold with open hands.
  3. For Jesus’s glory. Once something is seen as a gift, and stewarded but not hoarded, one can utilize that thing for Jesus. Our jobs. Our families. Our time. Our gifts. Our hobbies. Our suffering. It is all for Jesus and Jesus is working in them all. So, try and be intentional with everything. Pray that your work today would be used by God for the glory of His Son. Pray that Jesus would get fame in you as a spouse, parent, son, daughter, friend, roommate, student, employee, boss, student, athlete, artist, pastor, even in your sleeping moments. You cannot worship what you believe to be an instrument for Jesus’s glory.

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