Leadership – Desire | Part 2

I heard it said once that good leaders don’t simply train followers, but good leaders train and raise up leaders.  We have been blessed with many people who are taking the reigns of leadership at Bales Avenue.  The challenges in church planting are many but one of the major challenges in church planting is finding focused and qualified leadership.

Today I wanted to discuss, “The desire to lead.”

I have also heard it said that, ” If someone wants to be a leader that’s an indication that maybe they shouldn’t be.”

There is one sense in which I agree with that statement depending on their motivation and motives.  We see in scripture disciples asking Jesus who will sit on His right and His left, but asking to get into a place of position.  However we also see in the instructions within Timothy where that statement is wrong, because for one to be a leader biblically, they must desire it.

In 1 Timothy 3 we will find many qualifications for church leadership, including starting with the “desire” , which is something described as noble.

 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. – (1 Timothy 3:1 ESV)

There is a verse that says it is biblical to desire the office of overseer, and it says that he desires a noble task!!!  So why would someone say that those who want a leadership position probably shouldn’t be in leadership?

Over the years I have seen generally two types of leanings when it comes to desiring to be in a church leadership role.

The first kind of leader that may come up in Church or Church Plant which may come off as “Selfish Ambition” and Paul warns against selfish ambition (Phil. 1:17, 2:3)

The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. – (Philippians 1:17 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

They may have a seminary degree or not, they may have held some leadership role at another local church, and they come in with an expectation of being a leader.  They have not committed to the local fellowship, maybe they have had issues in the past with other leadership in other churches and think finally I’m going to come to this fellowship and they’re going to let me lead.  They would like a title before submitting themselves to the leadership of the local body.  The title seems to often be more important than ministering the gospel to the body. There is an ambition for leadership that has more to do with them, than it has to do with God.  When they aren’t made leaders on the timeline that they have set for themselves, then the fruit of this is often frustration or anger.  They might get jealous if someone begins to lead or be in leadership before them.  These are exhibits of fruit that are born of self.

The second kind of person desires to be in leadership, but knows it’s probably a long-term process, and it doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes it may happen faster in Church plants however that’s not always the case.  The mixture of; demonstration of character, gifting, servant hood, Gospel ministry, and maturity require time and prayer.  There is a measure of patience and maturity in their attitude towards ministry, and in actuality they begin leading within the body of Christ without a title or recognition.  If there is an initiative of the Church they are a helping hand, to serve.  They see a need and they fill it.  They may approach the leadership team of the church or church plant to inquire about the process of leadership, but it’s with a humble attitude, and not an attitude of “expectation.”

Here is a text that doesn’t explicitly pertain to leadership but all Christians which also holds true for leadership.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” – 1 Peter 5:6 ESV

If the leadership determines there are some things to work on before someone is ready for leading others, then in humility they ask what these things are, and don’t become offended or hurt.  Or if they do they are quick to repent of it.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – (Proverbs 9:8-10 ESV)

Notice in this if feedback is given to a scoffer, he will hate you.  (More to come on this in giving and receiving feedback in a later blog.) For this humble person who desires the office overseer there is an understanding that leadership is based upon biblical character, a demonstration and trust of that character, and of relationship with both the body of Christ and with the current and standing leadership.  More than anything their heart is for the gospel and gospel ministry, and this heart will shine through more than any other characteristic.

The ultimate point here is desire can be defined as a good thing or a bad thing but the underlying issue and root are motives.  Motives are hard to determine, and it is difficult to be objective.  My own motives have been mixed at times. There are times when it feels nice to be needed, and appreciated, but when the craving for this is high and I need it to feel secure or significant, I am in need to repent check my motives and bring them to the cross.   We are all in progress all growing we must bring these things before the cross.  ( More on leadership soon !)

By |October 8th, 2014|Leadership|Comments Off

Church Discipline With Flesh On

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 10.03.43 PM We have been doing a study on “Church Discipline”.

Meet Emily Duffy.  Emily joined us this morning.  Many churches don’t discuss conflict, how to deal with it in the Body of Christ and or Church Discipline.  Emily liked to call it this morning “Church Restoration”, after all that is the goal of Church Discipline.  We began the morning hearing from Emily, and she’s given us permission to share this testimony of Church discipline online.

Emily serves at Faith Community Church and demonstrated beautifully the reality of sin and the process God has ordained for restoration between a local expression and an individual who walks away from the Lord.  In the context of where we’re we have been during this short series,we’ve already discussed Matthew 18, and thus this timely testimony adds a sobering reality to the scriptures.   After this testimony Kevin Pulliam preached through 1 Corinthians 5 to discuss clearly what and how God has ordained His church to be his authority on the earth in matters of sin within the church body, and restoring people to fellowship through the love of God.

downloadHave a listen here!

By |August 18th, 2014|Conflict, Idolatry|Comments Off

Plan A or B? Missional Community Group – Pivot


Why is important to have two plans for Missional Community Group?

Part of the challenge with Missional Community Groups is often so many people are in so many different places spiritually speaking.  If you have been meeting for a while and your Missional Community Group is starting to look like a small group without new people you may want to focus your group more towards outward intentional sharing your faith through gospel conversations.  We may all be more comfortable with people we know and like and those who are already believers, but comfort isn’t usually our friend and often it is the enemy of true faith.  The idea behind MCG’s is that we are constantly, and intentionally looking for those whom God has placed in our everyday path both speak and show them Christ, or is often put to proclaim and demonstrate Christ.  The idea is so that we don’t just serve God with our lips but also with our lives as we intentionally seek to make disciples.

The people in Missional Communities have the desire to go on a journey together, and you can do that through various types of teaching, either through a book of the bible, or a video series group study, can all challenge us to the deeper things of the ‘Why’ of our faith.  You ask the “Why” what?

Why should we be missional?  What’s the point?

For example we are preparing to do a study on “The Holiness of God” ?  Therefore the question about this study, is how is that missional?  It’s missional in the sense that this study helps us understand our God and His mission at a much greater level.  It dives deep into the separation of Man and God and the complete otherness of God, and it is precisely because God sent his son Jesus Christ that we ‘Do mission’ in the first place.  I’m a firm believer in God as our primary motivation for mission and I don’t believe throwing out good doctrine gets us anywhere but in a ditch.  The fact of the matter is we have to be both missional and intentional in understanding the “Why?” of our faith, and going deep with Christ as our motivation for mission.

What does this have to do with Plan B, or pivoting? 

One of the main things we do is we hope to culturally convince you that sharing our faith in more natural, less superficial ways is attainable through being more ‘fluent in the gospel’.  In doing so we pray that God is empowering us by the Holy spirit to both go and invite people into the family of Christ.   When we do this sometimes unbelievers will come in and when they come into an MCG about the “Holiness of God” although it’s a great place to start in understanding it may be a huge chunk to bite off on an unbelievers first evening.  ( I’m not saying don’t explain the Holiness of God and I’m not saying don’t share the gospel. )  What I am saying is consider your audience.

You are planning on doing one thing, and several new people show up and now what?

When you have new people it’s often a judgement call but it’s a good time to call for plan B that evening.  We need to make new people feel welcome, play a “get to know you game” and find out about one another.  People have an innate desire to know others and be known by others.  We should share testimonies that point to Christ and stories in front of the new people.  We don’t need to force anyone new to share their testimony, but ask them if they’re interested in sharing either how they came to Christ or their story.  Listening to people can be practiced here, and where they are believing or not believing the gospel for later conversations.

The point is we need to remain flexible in MCG’s when new people arrive so that they feel as if they are welcome and the demonstration of Christ towards them is visible by all who are Christ followers in the MCG.  When everyone in the group is at a mature or somewhat mature level begin back with the series, but relationships seldom happen if people feel unwelcome, and ignored only to go through a particular lesson or curriculum.  It’s always good to end the evening no matter what splitting the group out to ladies and gents and praying for more lost, and for one another’s needs if there is time. In doing so you’re teaching people, how to share their testimonies, you are going over the basics of the faith, you are encouraging people with the reminding people of the common ground we have in Christ.  You are demonstrating vulnerability in being known, and leading by example in pursuing others who are not like you, just as Jesus did.

Therefore keep up the ‘mission out’, and invite the ‘mission in’, and when possible continue stretching existing believers within their understanding, to know God more through deep grounded theological studies that motivate people towards the mission in their ever increasing love for Jesus!

By |April 9th, 2014|Mission|Comments Off

Leadership – Qualifications Part 1

mark-10-45This is the first of a series of blogs on Bales Avenue Leadership.  We are heading toward installing more formal leadership within Bales Avenue, and there are the things which help us consider future leaders.  We acknowledge, no one meets all of these qualifications perfectly at all times, and we must have grace for one another as we strive forward toward these qualification.

Bales Avenue Community Church’s heart is to make disciples who make disciples and plant church that plant churches. In an effort to do this we will constantly be looking for people who desire to be in leadership or to lead in different capacities.  Not everyone will lead in the same way, and we are still working through these different areas, however we must be able to discern biblically who is ready for leadership, as a part of our ongoing stewardship of the body.

We have developed criteria we will use for only the “Consideration” of leadership at Bales Avenue Community Church.  If you meet the consideration requirements, it will not guarantee a position in leadership.  The decision for leadership must be around relationship, doctrine, accountability, trust, and the biblical characteristics put forth in God’s word.  It’s up to the discretion of the elder team as we seek the best interest of the people which we’ve been given stewardship over, to shepherd, discern, acknowledge and train up new leadership within the body.

  1. REGENERATION: To be considered you must have had a “Conversion / Regeneration” experience, even if accepting Christ at a young age must have a demonstration of a repentant life and lifestyle. You will exhibit living fruit from a life regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
  2. MEMBER: To be considered you must be an active church member, actively serving, and or leading others in some way
  3. TIME: You must have the time.  Simply put frequently there are other ministries, and or life circumstances, which do not allow persons who are biblically qualified enough time to fulfill the requirements of meeting with leaders, praying, and working towards the same vision and goals.  It is vitally important that if someone is to be considered to be especially an elder, they must have the time to commit to the task.
  4. VISION: To be considered you must demonstrate that you are in fully support of Bales Avenue Community Church’s Kingdom Vision & Values and be an advocate for it.  You must also support Bales Avenue’s Doctrinal Statements, and Goals in reaching the neighborhood and the nations.
  5. TRANSPARENCY: To be considered you will be in an accountability relationship at some level with other men/leaders that have heart knowledge of your life on a consistent basis.
  6. STABILITY | CONSISTENCY: To be considered you will be “consistent” in life style.   This means it will take time to get to know you as you demonstrate Christ in your life, walking out a consistent life before, your family and others.
  7. ABLE TO TEACH: To be considered you must be able to teach others, this assumes biblical knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You must be able to rightly handle the word of God, and convey this to others.

Qualifications for (Elders) and (Deacons) 

Self Controlled (Elder) 1 Timothy 3:2 ; Titus 1:8
Hospitable(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8
Able to Teach(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:2, 5:17: Titus 1:9
Not Violent but Gentle(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7
Not Quarrelsome (Elder) 1 Timothy 3:3
Not a lover of money(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:6
Not a recent convert(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:6
Has a good reputation w/ Outsiders(Elder) 1 Timothy 3:7
Not Overbearing(Elder) Titus 1:7
Not quick tempered(Elder) Titus 1:7
Temperate(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7 D 1 Timothy 3:8
Respectable(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7 D 1 Timothy 3:8
Not given to Drunkenness(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7 D 1 Timothy 3:8
Manages his own family well(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:4; D 1 Timothy 3:12
Sees that his children obey him(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:4; D 1 Timothy 3:12
Does not pursue dishonest gain(Elder & Deacon) E Titus 1:7 D 1 Timothy 3:8
Keeps hold of the deep truths(Elder & Deacon) E Titus 1:9 D 1 Timothy 3:9
Sincere(Deacon) 1 Timothy 3:8
Tested(Deacon) 1 Timothy 3:10
Above Reproach / blameless(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:2 ; 1 Titus 1:6 D 1 Timothy 3:9
Husband of one wife(Elder & Deacon) E 1 Timothy 3:2 ; 1 Titus 1:6 D 1 Timothy 3:12

These all deserve more explanation and there will be further blogs in the future.

By |April 8th, 2014|Leadership|Comments Off

Disappointment: An Idol of the Mind

Originally posted on urbanreformaiton.com 2008.

We must understand finite disappointment in our earthly endeavors, but never lose hope in our infinite God; I have heard it said once that disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.

Meeting expectations, that’s a big thing in our society today. We expect certain things from business people; we expect things from our spouse our children, and friends. Often we have expectations unstated.

As I’m growing older, mind you still in my early thirties, I notice that disappointment is something I struggle with from time to time. It’s something I do in breaking the second commandment, because “disappointment” is a form of idolatry.

We could use the word “disappointed,” another way, it’s sometimes good to substitute the word “disillusioned.”

This helps remind me that I have created an illusion in my own mind, about a spouse, or a friendship, an acquaintance, a leader, or an organization that simply isn’t based on a right or clear perspective. I have created for myself an ‘idol in my own mind’ and when my idol doesn’t perform the way I think it should I become, disappointed or disillusioned.

( God then allows me to feel the feeling that goes with my idolatry, of “disappointment.”)

Calling something an illusion suggests that my interpretation of reality is mistaken, or is at best unclear. So when things don’t go the way I expected or wanted them to go, it seems to help if I take the perspective that I’ve created a false image of reality in my mind (i.e. an idol), and I need to quickly adjust myself to a right perspective through Christ.

Therefore the best thing to do is to repent from idolatry in my own heart toward God, and realize that God is the keeper of perspective not I.

The sooner I repent the faster I get over this “feeling” of what I call “The Idol of Disappointment.”

By |April 2nd, 2014|Idolatry|Comments Off

It’s Planting Season


The sun is out today and winter seems “finally” come to a close.  Spring is in the air in more ways than one.  People are preparing to plant, tilling up soil, and the smell of dirt is in the air, as things start to come to life.

Bales Avenue Community Church often rolls with the season in their planting the gospel seed as well.  We hope to always be ready in season and out of season prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus, but we especially begin to till up the ground and sew seed in the spring time.  Often in the winter months we have a more focused intentional time on one another, and then in the spring and summer months we begin to be more intentional in the neighborhood outside.

I started the morning off be being awed by God in seeing all the beautiful ministry occurring today at Eleos Coffee.  I saw people’s needs being cared for and people sharing about Christ, and people wresting with God over various scenarios and circumstances in their life.  I quietly witnessed prayer, and encouragement taking place.  What a way to start the morning watching all the incredible ministry taking place and being amazed at how God is expanding the ministry at Eleos by adding the restaurant space next door.  To look back over the last 2.5 years and see Eleos as the Smith’s began and to see it now was overwhelming.  To know this has been created around the proclamation of the gospel on a street corner that used to be known for it’s prostitutes, and not it’s good news but it’s bad news…, the transformation is amazing.  Now this place has been transformed by the gospel and the Kingdom of Jesus has taken root in the lives of so many people through this ministry.  We also from our community groups and a weekend outreach at Bales Avenue have been, beginning to sew seed this week.


We have a ‘Relationship/Marriage‘ communication conference coming up this weekend the 21st and 22nd, and the following weekend.  We also have a free “Eye Glasses Clinic” coming up on the 29th.    In going out tonight to hand out fliers this evening, I had an unforgettable time.  To be honest I was worn out, mentally not prepared for what I was about to encounter.  As we walked down the street this evening I met a young man by the name of Marcos, I had my middle daughter our foreign exchange student with us, and another young kido.  Marcos immediately seemed more interested in figuring out how to get to a church to stay out of trouble, he was in need of a family, a place to belong, and help.  The sad thing like so many he knew already so much about Jesus.   We ended up talking for quite some time, and as I had decided after a while just to hand out fliers tomorrow, on our way back to my house to get Marcos some food, I met another neighbor.  It was as if this neighbor was standing at the foot of my home telling me I wasn’t finished yet.  He told me that he is single, but he really wishes I would go to his neighbors house across the street.  These guys live directly behind me and they’re loud, partiers, and often threaten violence late at night.  Marcos immediately asked, “Can I go with you?”  The children, for safety,  went home and Marcos was now going door to door with me handing out fliers and listening as I shared Christ with various neighbors.


We eventually got to the house behind us, the other neighbor I was asked to visit.  When I got there it looked pretty scary but I went up and introduced myself.  I told them about the ‘stuff we had coming’ marriage ministry/eyeglasses clinic,  and then we started talking about sin, and demons.  I was able to talk about how sin entered through one man named Adam, and can only be reconciled through one man named Jesus.  We discussed about “Jesus died for my sins” and most people not knowing what that really means.  They listened with attentive ears, and I noticed when they slowly started to no want to hear much more.  But they did seemed moved by what they heard, to the point of offering to come next Wed night.  The amazing thing is these hard hearted giant guys actually listened, and talked for a really long time about God.  Not the night they were expecting either!

We invited the two neighbors over for MCG the following week, and Marcos and I finished headed home.  I introduced Marcos to my home and family, and the rest of the MCG who was praying for us to have fruit on these visits.  This young man ate, and began pouring his heart out to me for the next hour, how he’s been in and out of church in and out of God.  He isn’t sure what his purpose in life.  I will save his story for later, but needless to say, it was an amazing fruit filled evening.  Please continue to lift my new friend up in your prayers and as he gets acclimated to a new church family. Pray for wisdom, not comfort, but that God might use the name of Jesus the name above every name, to humble and direct Marcos in the next few months.  That we might be able to teach, and love this young man demonstrating the love of Jesus.   I stood back in amazement at what God is willing to do through those of us who seemingly have a little energy and strength, but a small will to be obedient in the moment.  God is greater than all our fears, all of our weaknesses.  Therefore it’s time to plant, sew, water, God will bring the increase in His time!   Make disciples one relationship at a time.

By |March 20th, 2014|Mission|Comments Off

Community : Hindrances of Fellowship : Building a Culture


Do you long for deeper Christian Relationships?  Are we all doing our part?

The main hinderances of deep fellowship are always rooted in pride.  As we pray and discover and consider hindrances to fellowship, we must ask ourselves above questions, and then ask the question why?  Here are a few excerpts  from the book I spoke about in the previous post, “Why Small Groups” to give you an idea.

Self-sufficiency. This sin announces to God and others
that we are adequate in ourselves. It reveals itself in
a lack of prayer (demonstrating our delusion that we
don’t need God) and a lack of fellowship (demonstrating
our delusion that we don’t need each other).

Formality. We can also fall into formality within
our small groups—the very place
where fellowship demands spontaneity
and openness. In fact, I’ve found the
meetings of many small groups to be
as predictable as any liturgy (and I say
this without any intent to denigrate
congregations that employ a liturgy).
The leader follows a standard pattern. The same people
pray, read Scripture, talk about their problems. Every time.
But fellowship is spiritual—“of the Spirit”—and so
should our meetings be. The needs and issues of our lives
change, and so should the content and topics of our meetings,
for the Spirit is constantly at work in our lives to
conform us to Christ’s image in specific ways. We must
adapt to his work, and invite others to help us. I’m not
advocating there be no plan or format to meetings, but
rather, that the plans include opportunities for everyone
to share the work of the Spirit in his or her life.

Bitterness. Bitterness in the context of fellowship is simply a sinful reaction to something gone awry in a relationship. Consider these areas:
Unfulfilled expectations: “I’ve invited him to
lunch, and he didn’t accept; I’ve opened my life
to him and he didn’t follow up; I thought we
would become close friends, but instead he
spends all his time with someone else.”
Offended pride: “Your correction was inaccurate,
and I’m insulted that you’d even think I could do
such a thing. I’ll never open my life to you again.”

Elitism. This condescending attitude toward those
whom we deem less mature than ourselves quenches fellowship—
or turns it into a narrow one-way street. We
find elitism in this kind of thinking: “I can help him, but
he’s not mature enough to make any contribution to my
growth. I only share my life with people mature enough
to handle my problems.” Or we can form cliques rooted
in the pride of tenure: “I’ve been here a long time and my
relationships are established. Those folks would probably be more comfortable with
some of the newer members.”

These excerpts speak volumes for themselves and leave us with the question how tightly knit are our own personal Gospel centric relationships? What about in our groups and our friendships?  Many of us are new in our own groups but knowing the weaknesses of our own group is the best way to fortify our weaknesses with stronger armor.


Christian Intentionality:  The purpose of Gospel centered relationships is sanctification.  This means is you and I, via the Holy Spirit’s working in us with one another live for others, it is no longer I who live but Christ in me. It leaves us to ask ourselves where are we going in our relationships? Do we have a destination, are we multiplying and sending people out on mission to encourage their growth? Are we taking some level of risk which requires our faith to grow?  Are we aiming for a goal and being intentional, demonstrating vulnerability ?

Has an arrow ever hit the bulls eye with out the archer knowing first where the bulls eye was before he shot?  If we don’t know where we’re going with our missional community groups, and in our church plant, we might need to ask God to grant us the ability to be honest with ourselves.  We need to ask,  “am I doing all I can to foster this means of God’s grace in our own lives and in the life of our Missional Community Groups?” How may we serve God better for the purpose of sanctification? We need to ask the Lord how we can intentionally affect others through knowing one another and being known in the family of Christ?

By |February 12th, 2014|Mission|Comments Off

Community : Building a Culture

gospelimageClose your eyes.  Think with me for a moment with me of your closest spiritual friend.  Think of how you became friends.  Now thing of the qualities that make up that friend, their character.  What are the genuine qualities that draw you to them, that allow you to be transparent and vulnerable with them?  Perhaps they inspire you, motivate you, encourage you? Have you ever had a friend that you could hear truth from?  For example, when something is wrong in your life, or when your heart is at a low point the help you lift your head up and out of your pity party and help set your mind on the things above?

I’m speaking of Christian friendship.  There are a lot of warm and positive things that you can often say about these people, yet at its base, these relationships are only the way they are because Jesus has transformed them, and now their  life demonstrates Christ toward you.  Some are discipleship relationships, some are brotherly  or sisterly relationships, some are spiritual fathers or spiritual mothers in your life, regardless all of these friendships are based in the only perfect common denominator and that is the Gospel.  In other words the one thing that you have in common with these people is, the fact that God has granted them repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ, and there is no friendship, or fellowship that brings temporal satisfaction like these relationships.

Often however, in American Christianity we have secluded ourselves so far away from true relationships for of a number of busy excuses, our churches are often filled with spiritual orphans.  We have in fact many congregations a spiritual epidemic on hand of spiritual orphan hood.  Often it’s difficult to see, we in our American ‘self sufficiency’ need little want for little, and desire little to be shown our sin.  In fact our skin has grown weak and thin, to the point where no one else can say much of anything to us about our sin or we roll up in a fetal position and request some new anti-depressant medication to medicate our internal wound.

I wanted re-introduce you to a book I read some time back called Small Groups, and specifically chapter 2  Rediscovering Fellowship.  You can download it for free at the link.  This book has a lot of value, I think the only critique I would have about it, is the fact that it is more ‘inward focused’ and could use a more ‘missional focus’ overall.   It’s really a guide in how to do “real” church on the inside though.  It’s not the “ecclesiology” per se but it is the knitty gritty of relationships.

The author of this chapter John Loftness begins the chapter by explaining that true fellowship is found only in that common bond, that wonderful identifier of Christ alone.  This is the power, and motivation, love, and forbearance in our relationships.  What I appreciate about this chapter is he described the issues and demonstrated the answers. He explains well what is needed in a small group or church for it’s own good and health.  He described some examples of the means of this grace of “fellowship” to be these eight suggestions.  I phrased them to be questions so that we can ask ourselves these questions, in our own lives, and in our small groups are we doing this with people from our fellowship?  And if we’re not, how do we make changes to get there?  Here are some remedies to help move us out of the shallow waters of the “Iceberg Christianity” into the deep of Gospel Centric Relationships.

Do we Worship God together?
Do I or Are we Praying for one another?
Are people allowed or encouraged in our lives or groups to utilize our spiritual gifts?
Am I or do we Carry one another’s burdens?
Am I or do we Share about our spiritual experiences with others?
Am I or do we Confess our sins to one another?
Am I or do we Correct one another, in love?
Am I or do we Serve one another in practical ways?

This is a self assessment if you will, modified by me, but taken from the book to see how we are doing with our own lives and with our relationships.  Are we getting beyond the surface layer of relationship ?

Let us ask ourselves these questions.   Lastly to add to the missional aspect of this, are we inviting people into the mission, demonstrating before the lost these things?

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:35

This includes the all the questions above, asking how we show our love in Christ for one another.

We add mission to the equation with some questions to ask ourselves below.

Are we making space for the lost?
Are we inviting the lost?
Are we speaking the gospel to unbelievers?
Are we praying for the lost?

By |February 11th, 2014|Mission|Comments Off

We Have Changed Our Name

babynameWe have changed our name! 

We understand that there will be strong feelings involved here and rightly so, please pray before you respond here us, and pray through any difficulty you may have beforehand.  We also know for so many this will always be Bales Baptist Church, and there is nothing in the charter or the original documents that we’re changing, only our name for present members and the neighborhood.

Why are we changing our name?

We started this process around the end of October 2013 and completed the merger process at the very end of December.  During the negotiations about Living Faith coming in and taking over stewardship of the Bales legacy one of the request that were made is, “could we keep the name Bales in the new name.” Bales and the Bales family have a historic and rich testimony in Historic Northeast and we want to continue to honor the heritage of the church and location where so many Christ followers have invested their time energy and attention to make much of Jesus in Kansas City over many generations.

Through the merger about 98% of the remaining church members that have remained at Bales, for are from the church plant Living Faith KC.  Living Faith KC had a rich and yes challenging beginning and the name “Living Faith” will forever be planted deep in the hearts of those who have fought also to bring the gospel to bear on the lives and relationships that they have created in the city through the last three years.

We decided to change our name to continue under one new local identity keeping in perspective that we should find our true identity in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.  We acknowledge that the neither the name Living Faith nor Bales Baptist will be names which will carry weight in heaven but hey have been meaningful name here while we have sojourned here on earth.

Why Bales Avenue Community Church for a name?

Bales, in keeping our word to honor the heritage and legacy that Bales has made historically we have kept the name to honor this legacy and pray that it will continue bring a legacy of honoring the Lord Jesus Christ for the Glory of God and the good of the City.  To see our brief history and longer history click on the links.

Avenue, we also realize that a good majority of people, and groups both in the Northeast now, and those who are here internationally living in the Northeast have no idea what “Bales” is apart from a street.  We visited Whittier elementary and there are over 32 individual people groups represented with English as their second language, and none of those people groups will know the name Bales apart from the “Bales Avenue” street signs they see in the neighborhood.  We felt that making it “Bales Avenue” would help identify it as more of a location based name, and therefore help the community understand where the location of the building might be as opposed to our previous name “Living Faith.”

Community, Community for two reasons.  The first reason, we believe we are here for the community, this was one of the reason we longed to be in the Northeast because there was brokenness and absence of Christians and Christian influence in the neighborhood.  The community has changed in the past 50 years, and although there are Kingdom Hall’s, Buddhist Temples, and Muslim mosque everywhere Christianity in the community has only weakened.  Therefore we wanted to add community to the name for the first reason because we want to be a church that is here for the community and that reaches the community with the gospel.

Secondly as a church we desire to be a “Christian Community” who is in deep fellowship with one another.  We want to model and demonstrate biblical community to the world, where Jesus Christ is at the center of all we do!

Church, this is the easy one!  The word ecclesia (Church) always referred to an assembly of people, not a place, or even a building but a called out people gathered together in the name of God.

The Church is God’s People (who we are) saved by God’s Power (what He has done and is doing) for God’s Purposes (the good works he created us in Jesus Christ to do)

Now for the explanation, why have we taken Baptist out of the name?

Many people are passionate about this on both sides of the isle and I respect and believe I understand both positions well.  One person told me it was an ultimate compromise if I removed the name Baptist.  I would disagree; in removing the name Baptist it does not mean we remove the gospel.  We believe we have a strong biblical gospel to bring to the world and over the years while many of us are fond of being “Baptist” by tradition, and by denomination the community has not always seen “Baptist” in a friendly light.  Different people have different impressions and preconceived notions of what being “Baptist” means and because of this and our heart to reach the lost in the neighborhood we have removed Baptist from our name.

Does this mean we are not Baptist?  Absolutely not, of course we are still SBC and MBC affiliated, our local Baptist Association Blue-River Kansas City, and we still have a strong heritage of being Baptist, only we are allowing people to know the love of Christ through knowing us, without some of the pre-notions and stigmas our culture has stamped upon the name Baptist.

We are first and foremost Christians, Christ followers.  We believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sin.  Jesus took on the punishment we deserve and all the wrath that was meant for us, because of our rebellion toward God was placed on Jesus at the cross. We believe Jesus was the great reconciler and made a way for all who believe to be made right with our God.  We have a stewardship of this glorious gospel to take this good news to a lost and broken world.

And we are at our core Christ followers, and we continue to have a growing and maturing relationship with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  In fact I met with Josh Hedger their new director of Church Planting yesterday, and he’s excited to see Bales Avenue Community Church impact the city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We will be changing over email soon to @balesavenue.com and various other changes are on the way.  We also have a new website that I mentioned above http://balesavenue.com 

Thank you so much in advance for your patience, and we move forward in an every changing world, as we attempt to bring the same gospel and the same message from Acts until now to the world.  I am so grateful for all help and patience with all the change that’s taking place.

I truly do love you all, and am praying God will continue to grow and mature us all in 2014 as well as add souls and change lives here in the city this year, more than ever.

In Christ,



By |February 4th, 2014|Merger|Comments Off


mergerToday Living Faith KC & Bales Baptist voted to become one body 100% Yes, and 0 no votes with one abstention.
Both congregations will have a new name in the upcoming weeks, (Bales remaining in the name) and we will be moving forward under one new local identity, but we must not lose sight that our true identity is in Christ.  We as ambassadors’ of reconciliation to the world have this charge to be salt and light, and to see as many people as possible come into the kingdom of Heaven. What a great opportunity we will have in 2014!
I want to thank you in advance for everyone’s patience.  So many things have been put on hold awaiting changes.  Everyone has been amazing through the transition, and there will be many more changes to come, as we establish things newly as one body.
Some important things to focus or consider on over the next few weeks.
  1. Continue to pray for unity as change is still always difficult.  We still have much to do!  We have never done any of these large moves without prayer, perhaps never enough but God has always used them for His purposes.  Please continue to pray for unity on all sides, and for fruit in the coming year of 2014.
  2. Relational connectivity is very important.  It’s wonderful to come together on Sunday mornings, however over the next several months to interconnect with one another outside of the couple of hours on Sunday morning.  We want to encourage as much as possible relational connectivity between everyone, and it takes everyone being intentional inviting one another, sitting next to people you don’t know, asking questions, and being genuinely interested in “knowing others” and “being known” by others.
  3. Therefore hospitality is key.  Over the next 2 – 3 months invite either someone new or someone not from your original fellowship, over to your home for dinner.  Please take some intentional time to get to know people hear their story understand one another!
  4. Have patience.  It will take time to learn everyone’s “Style”, how we will newly delegate, to work out many rough edges over the next year.  I want to thank you for your patience in advance, we are humans with lots of responsibilities, and just my usual disclaimer : I will fail many at some point, I want to encourage you all to look to Christ not put me or any of the other leaders up as infallible or on a pedestal where we do not belong, we are very fallible men, praying to do the will of the father.  Therefore thank you in advance for your patience.
  5. Mission – As we connect with one another relationally over the next few months, I would encourage those from LFKC originally to continue to repeat the Vision of making disciples to those not as familiar with it.  The idea of reproduction and personal discipleship is often foreign and continue to brainstorm how to do that individually from our MCG’s and corporately.  We will have new opportunities in 2014 and pray with us that we can be impacting missional church where the people go outside of the four walls and make disciples, mature in the faith, and then reproduce themselves, ie Matthew 28 ( the Great Commission ) DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THIS!

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Love you all…. In His Mercy,

By |December 29th, 2013|Merger|Comments Off