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NLC 2012


Table of Contents DEVOTIONAL

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NLC 2012

NLC LEADERSHIP MAGAZINE We hope you enjoy these articles from each of this year’s NLC speakers. And during each session, feel free to use the notes section in the back so you don’t miss anything.

2012 NLC Schedule & Map

Welcome from Perry Noble

The History of NLC

When Leading is Tough By Shane Duffey

10 Signs You're an Insecure Leader

You—Shut your Mouth

But I Don't Have What it Takes

Keeping Church for the Unchurched

By Perry Noble

By James MacDonald

By Steven Furtick

By Andy Stanley

Why Rules Create Toxic Religion

2012 NLC Speakers

Relationship vs. Religion

Success is a Hollow Goal

By Jud Wilhite

By Matt Chandler

Leadership Through Serving

Twitter

By Craig Groeschel

Grace Grows the Church By Judah Smith

Serving at NLC

By Brooke George 3


Map DEVOTIONAL

SCHEDULE

7:00am

8:30am 10:30am

10:30am

EAST AUD.

10:45am

10:45am 12:45pm

12:45pm 1:45pm

1:45pm

WEST AUDITORIUM

3:45pm

3:45pm 4:00pm

RESTROOMS

4:00pm

GUEST SERVICES

6:00pm

COFFEE & SNACKS

4

Registration Session 1 Break

Session 2 Lunch

Session 3 Break

Session 4


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WELCOME! We are excited you took time out of your schedule to be with us! Today we will hear from some amazing leaders who love Jesus and love the church, and our prayer is that you will leave NLC challenged, equipped and encouraged! Jesus passionately loves His Church and has called you to carry the Gospel to your communities through His Church! Your leadership and influence is so important. God is changing the world through His Church and we get to be a part of it! Take notes, talk with your staff, connect with other leaders, and enjoy your time at NewSpring Church!

PERRY NOBLE Senior Pastor

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Glimpse THE HISTORY OF NLC

NLC began in 2010 out of the desire to create a conference where pastors could share wisdom on leadership and following Jesus. 1673 leaders attended that year, and 2262 attended in 2011. Thank you for making 2012 our best year yet!

PHOTO BY CHRIS ISHAM


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When Leading is Tough BY S H A NE DU FFE Y

We all know the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. The story is found in multiple Gospels and it serves for most as an example of what Jesus can do for hungry people when the odds are stacked against them. I love that truth in this story. As I was reading through this story recently it hit me that there is more to this story than just the miracle that was performed. There is a strong leadership lesson for us all. I don’t know about you, but I often read

The disciples act like I probably would have in telling Jesus to send the people away to take care of themselves. But to show them (and us) what a real leader does, even when times are tough, he looked on them with compassion and met their needs. The challenge for us is to realize that true leadership is proven not when things are great, but when times are the toughest. Those who follow us can’t suffer a lack of

over the context of this story.

leadership just because we’ve had a re-

Jesus had just found out that John the Bap-

compassion and meet their needs. That’s

tist had been executed and he was looking to retreat and grieve. Then, all these hungry people come looking for him for no other reason than to have their bellies filled. So what is Jesus’ attitude toward those looking

ally bad day. We have to look on them with why we’re the leader. A final thought from this passage is to look at what Jesus did for the disciples. He showed them that when leaders pour them-

to take from him?

selves out for the people they lead, even

We see it clearly in Matthew 14:14, “When

to give, they receive back more than they

he went ashore he  saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed

when it doesn’t look like they have anything could ever give out.

their sick.”

In Matthew 14:20 we read, “And they all ate

Wow!

baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”

Doesn’t it seem that some of our biggest leadership challenges come up when we’re not in the best frame of mind to handle them? Jesus sets us a great example. He knew the people were coming to him to take from him, yet he still looked on them with compassion and met their needs in healing the sick and feeding the hungry.

and were satisfied. And they took up twelve One full basket for each leader. To be given the gift and the position of a leader is a great thing when we start to trust Jesus, even when the situation looks dim, and serve the people He has given us to lead, knowing that Jesus is able to give us back more than the little we started with. 9


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ONE You see people as working for you and not with you.

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TWO Everyone who pushes back on any of your ideas is automatically branded as disloyal. (Because for you “loyalty” is defined as, “loving everything I say and do!”)

THREE

FOUR

Every time someone begins to say something good about someone else you always have to be the person who says, “yes, but what you don’t know about them is…” and from that point tear them down under the disguise of being concerned about them.

You get jealous when someone on your team receives any sort of public affirmation but you are not mentioned at all. (Remember how Saul felt when it was said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”)

FIVE You cannot celebrate what God is doing in other churches. (OR, you always critique instead of celebrating!)


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SIX You always believe someone on your staff is going to attempt a coup and try to take over your role as a leader. (This leads to suspicion and distrust, which will destroy ANY team.)

SEVEN You dismiss what God is doing in another ministry because it does not line up exactly with where you are theologically.

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

You lead through intimidation, always threatening to “fire someone” if things “don’t shape up around here.”

You really do like the fact that people on your staff are afraid of you.

You feel the need to prove yourself in every meeting you are in by seizing every opportunity you have to speak, believing that everything in the meeting is not going to be its absolute best until you have had your say about it.

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YOU– SHUT YOUR MOUTH BY JAMES MACDONALD

A

complex issue for ministry leaders is how to process the incredible amount of feedback that comes from so many sources, both in and outside the church. It falls into some basic levels, regardless of the source: •

General input (random and one time)

Persistent input (continuous on many topics, not always negative)

Irreconcilable disagreement without sin (Paul and Barnabas)

Constructive criticism (always negative, but goal is helping)

Destructive criticism (always negative, with goal to wound)

Harsh unjust criticism (intended to tear down)

Personal attack and character assassination (intended to destroy)

The further what you’re facing is down that list, the more this article is intended to guide you. Part of the puzzle in processing feedback requires evaluation of the person who brings it. A.W. Tozer and many other men of God have had, throughout their ministries, a policy of ‘no attack, no defense’ when the opposition involved unjust or untrue statements from those outside of their own churches. Instead they chose silence, and I believe we should do the same. 13


will question your loyalty, your friend at

1. WHEN ANSWERING WOULD CAUSE YOU TO SIN Every question does not need an answer. For those outside the information flow, the

MAYBE SOMETHING MUCH BIGGER IS AT STAKE. MAYBE IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR DETRACTORS AT ALL— MAYBE IT IS ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING.

interrogative can be more appealing than the prerogative of love, as the former expands the ego while the latter deconstructs it. Knowing the whole story is a burden that leaders must bear in plurality, so the company or the congregation or the country does not have to carry the weight of full disclosure. In a culture where journalists dictate the information flow, we start to think getting the full scoop is the ultimate good. But seeing firsthand the failings of others without becoming disillusioned

church will question your fidelity. Can you continue to keep your mouth shut when your heart wants so badly to set the record straight? Can you wait on God for vindication when you have the information that would silence the scoffers in a second? Can you remain quiet when the incensed strike you in anger for your silence? Can you bear the reproach rather than return fire to injure those whose words are wounding you? Jesus did. “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats…” 1 Peter 2:23

is what leaders are called to carry for the sake of all. To keep serving and loving and giving while knowing every detail of every

3. WHEN THE WEIGHT SEEMS TOO HEAVY

disappointment with yourself and others is a

As you wait for God’s vindication you may

deterrent to sanctification, not an accelerant. Parents, pastors, and all in authority learn that those they lead are better at asking questions than they are at living with the answers they often demand. If the questions are misplaced, badly motivated or beyond the petitioner’s need to know, the wisest thing to do is remain silent. If the answers requested require betrayal or gossip or casting pearls or dignifying someone’s disdain, it’s better to bite your tongue. “[Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.” Luke 23:9

begin to fear that you will be crushed by this burden. Is that so bad? Maybe crushing is just what the Lord has in mind for the pride that insulates our souls from greater grace. God’s sovereignty is so awesome and all-encompassing that He can capture what others meant for evil and use it for your good (Genesis 50:20). God can utilize the misplaced zeal of the ignorant and the well-intentioned crusade of the uninformed as the crushing that increases your Christ likeness. Often what we think is the worst season to endure will become the best season of our lives, if we handle it God’s way. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to

2. WHEN REFUSAL TURNS TO REVILING

crush him…” Isaiah 53:10

When the answers don’t come in the right amount at the right time to those who de-

14

mand explanation, they will sometimes

4. BUT JESUS WAS SILENT AND INNOCENT

become caustic. Your child will attack your

The obvious difference is that Jesus was si-

withholding of explanation, your employee

lent while 100% without guilt, and we never


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are. Jesus could give it over to the Father,

choice to be silent when reviled is not about

wrong about, with a vigor at least equal to

knowing that His complete innocence

the 10 that are caustic or the 100 that are

your anticipation of vindication. Sit back,

would eventually come to light. However,

curious—it’s about the 1000 that are calling

listen to those closest, keep silent, and wait

only by self-deception can we view our-

out for a space and time example of how to

for the Lord.

selves as innocent. It’s so tempting to run

handle injustice. Scan the horizon of our

to the part someone else is getting wrong,

world and see how seldom those that are

“Avoid foolish, ignorant controversies; you

or camp on the corner of a third party’s

falsely accused hold their tongues. Hear the

know that they breed quarrels.”

misperception—but is all the opposition

hurting pleas of the men in loveless mar-

2 Timothy 2:23

without merit? Isn’t it better to find the

riages or the women who keep serving in

truth that exists in almost all criticism and

humility when affection and appreciation

embrace your own responsibility? Don’t

are not forthcoming. See the overlooked,

7. CAN I EVER SAY ANYTHING?

make the mistake of hiding behind the parts

underappreciated and often maligned all

of the problem that flow from the faults of

around us who truly want to handle injus-

I have written a post about when to an-

others. Get a mirror and focus, with the

tice as God has commanded. Those who

help of those you trust, upon the portion

think silence means there isn’t a good an-

of the reviling that is legitimate. Covenant

swer are naïve. Maybe something much

with God and those around you that collec-

bigger is at stake. Maybe it’s not about you

tive regrets will turn out for better service

or your detractors at all—maybe it is about

to God and others in the future. A contin-

those who are watching.

ued focus on learning what you can from your own mistakes will help suppress your

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought

desire to retaliate and keep you focused on

to what is honorable in the sight of all.”

the one person you can change, yourself.

Romans 12:17

is to answer only once and then remain silent. Silence may enrage the foolish, but it will model something important for those you are called to lead. If a fuller defense becomes essential, as in Paul’s ministry at Corinth, let others do as much of that talking as possible—you are not Paul, none of us are apostles. Beyond that, your silence helps you turn down the volume on fixing others and focus in on what God is trying to teach you.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes.” Proverbs 3:7

swer a fool and when not to, but the key

6. GIVE IT SOME TIME The most important partner you have in a season of injustice is time. The season will

5. BUT MY SILENCE IS MAKING MATTERS WORSE

end, the false criticism will be eclipsed by

Can you sit quietly even when you see

with all the facts and the love of those that

people you care about get picked off in the

know you best. The problem with most of

crossfire? Shouldn’t you stand up for the in-

us is that we want the issue settled, handled,

nocent who get drawn into the campaign

inventoried with all blame assigned and ev-

to criticize by telling the ‘whole story’?

erything back in the place it belongs for our

Don’t allow yourself the rationalization that

own peace of mind. Yet Scripture exhorts,

you are breaking your silence so the sheep

“Therefore do not pronounce judgment be-

don’t get scattered. Yes, any leader should

fore the time, before the Lord comes, who

be grieved deeply to see a formerly sup-

will bring to light the things now hidden in

portive participant become disgruntled or

darkness and will disclose the purposes of

disillusioned. As hard as it may be, though,

the heart. Then each one will receive his

we must look to a purpose beyond help-

commendation from God” (1 Corinthians

ing those who know better than to listen to

4:5). And while you await your appoint-

self-appointed arbiters of orthodoxy, who

ment before God’s throne, be sure you are

do little more than guess and gossip. Your

preparing for shock at the things you were

your growth in grace, the loyalty of those

When I have gotten this wrong I have deeply regretted it, and purposed afresh to keep my focus on what God is teaching me. I am in the midst of a month largely without email or twitter or much of the internet at all. I am following no one and keeping up with nothing, except my relationship with Jesus, my family, and the wonderful leaders of our church. It has been incredibly refreshing to my soul, and the silence has given me a much clearer picture of what God is growing in me. “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25–26

www.jamesmacdonald.com 15


BUT I DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES BY STEVEN FURTICK


NLC 2012

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

something greater, transforming it into an extraordinary tool for the extraordinary purposes of turning the Nile into blood and parting the Red Sea. When feeding the five thousand, Jesus didn’t send the disciples to buy out Five Guys. He simply asked them, “What do you have?” Five loaves and two fish were more than enough (Mark 6:30–44). When the prophet, Elisha, was approached by the desperate widow in 2 Kings 4:1–7 he simply asked her, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” She said she had nothing at all, “except a little oil.” It turns out, one jar of oil isn’t a bad place to start. God

“You don’t belong here, boy. You don’t have

Whatever the reason, something keeps us

anything worth saying to these people.”

from realizing what we have is more than enough for God. He has a history of using

You’d think a pastor about to preach to

what little someone has in order to do great

thousands of people eagerly awaiting his

things that only He can do.

message would feel confident and courageous as he walks to the pulpit. But as I

Unfortunately, one of the enemy’s most

stepped out on stage, I literally had to talk

effective strategies is to get you to focus on

to myself aloud to drown out the voice

what you don’t have and all the ways you

inside me telling me I didn’t have what

fall short.

it takes. So when I hear that voice reminding me of Have you ever stopped short of God’s call-

my shortcomings and limitations, I’ve de-

ing on your life because you felt almost par-

cided to say, “You’re right. But my greatest

alyzed by your limitations and insecurities?

limitation is God’s greatest opportunity.”

We often excuse ourselves from God’s

All throughout Scripture God has shown

greater vision because we don’t believe

this to be true time and time again.

we have enough for God to work with. Maybe it’s our insufficient experience.

When calling Moses to lead the Israelites

Lack of resources. Lackluster training.

out of slavery from the Egyptians, God

Awkward social skills.

simply asked him, “What is in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). It was just a staff—a com-

Maybe it’s a busted up marriage or a job

mon tool used by a common worker for

we’re sure is meaningless.

a common purpose. But God used it for

supernaturally multiplied that one jar of oil until she had enough to pay her debts and live with her sons on what was left. And how did these miracles start? They started with something that seemed to amount to nothing. These examples remind us we need to take inventory of what’s right in front of us. Use that. Be obedient right there. Start saying yes to God right where you are. Instead of focusing on your limitations and insecurities and saying, “I can’t,” start praying, “God, use what I have. Take what little I have and make it overflow.” Indeed your greatest limitation is God’s greatest opportunity.

Please visit greaterbook.com for information on Steven Furtick’s new book, Greater, and to join in the Pray Greater for 4 Days initiative.

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KEEPING CHURCH FOR THE


BY ANDY STANLEY


A

s committed as our team is to creating churches for unchurched people, we still have to fight the

pull toward becoming a church for church people. Honestly, I don’t understand why every church wouldn’t determine to become a church unchurched people loved to attend. Nothing brings this conviction into sharper focus for me than baptism. To be baptized in our churches, candidates have to allow us to record a three-to-four minute video describing their faith journeys. We show these videos in our worship services just before individuals are baptized. Week after week, I sit and listen to people of all ages share their stories of how they connected with their heavenly Father as a result of getting connected to church. I’m sure you have stories of your own. I don’t share these by way of comparison. It’s just that stories like these are the bull’s-eye on the target for us. It’s why we exist. I’ll never forget Allen’s story. He grew up

accepted Christ as his Savior, he cried the

like to say that I am Jewish, Jesus Christ is

entire day.

the Messiah, and He is my personal Lord and Savior.”

with a single mom who worked three jobs to keep the family afloat. He stopped attend-

Then there was my friend Nancy. Nancy

ing church as soon as he could. When his

began attending because we hired her

A few weeks earlier, a thirty-year-old

mother contracted cancer and died, he be-

husband to play in one of our bands. Her

woman began her baptism story this way:

came very angry with God. His words were,

story began like this: “I grew up in a Jewish

“I had always been told that because I was

“I couldn’t understand how He could let her

household, the granddaughter of an ortho-

gay, God hated me and I was going to hell.”

work so hard and never have anything for

dox cantor. I was bas mitzvahed at thirteen.

She went on to explain how she turned to

herself and die at the age of forty-one. For

My ex-husband was invited to play in the

alcohol at the age of fifteen to deal with her

the next twenty years I lived a very destruc-

North Point band and thus my journey be-

rejection. She continued, “I was a miserable

tive life.” It was Allen’s wife who eventually

gan. At first, I considered Andy’s preaching

lost person trying to find something to fill

persuaded him to attend North Point. He

to be motivational speaking. Yet slowly my

my emptiness.” But God brought someone

described it this way, “I sat in rows here at

heart began to open to the message of the

into Jessie’s life who challenged her to get

North Point for over six years just to make

New Testament. It was in the sermon series

sober and begin attending church. After

her happy. Then suddenly the messages

The Star, the Cross, and the Crescent that

fifteen years of avoiding church, she said,

started making sense.” Allen still had a lot of

I realized that Jesus was my Savior.” Nan-

“When I came to this church, I immediately

questions, so he joined a Starting Point22

cy went on to thank the people God had

felt at home.” I have to tell you, that state-

group as well as a couple’s group. “Eventu-

brought into her life to facilitate her jour-

ment was emotional for me. I imagined

ally all my dots connected and I truly got it

ney to faith. Then she concluded by saying,

Jessie as a teenager carrying the secret of

for the first time.” Allen said that when he

“Today I proudly and profoundly would

same-sex attraction compounded by the lie

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NLC 2012

makes it difficult for those who are turning

generation. God has seen fit to bless us with

to God. I could go on and on. And in case

the responsibility to ensure that the twen-

you visit us someday, you should know that

ty-first century church is a place where all

in our churches, when someone comes up

kinds of people with all kinds of stuff can

out of the water, we cheer. We celebrate. It’s

gather in Jesus’ name and find restoration,

not uncommon for friends to bring posters

acceptance, and grace.

with the name of the person they’ve come to see baptized written in big bold letters.

Music comes and goes a lot more quickly

People throw confetti and ring bells. It’s

than it used to. We sang “Just As I Am” for

awesome. We take seriously Jesus’ words

decades. Currently, the song we sing that

that “there will be more rejoicing in heav-

captures that same sense of transparency,

en over one sinner who repents than over

restoration, and hope is Gungor’s song

ninety-nine righteous persons who do not

“Beautiful Things”:

need to repent” (Luke 15:7). We figure if heaven is celebrating, we should join in.

All around
 Hope is springing up from this old ground

Pardon my naïveté or arrogance, but I think

Out of chaos life is being found in You

celebrations like the ones I just described

You make beautiful things


should be the norm in every gathering that

You make beautiful things out of the dust

calls itself a church. From time to time I get

You make beautiful things


notes from attendees thanking me for cre-

You make beautiful things out of us.

ating a church to which they can invite their neighbors and unchurched family mem-

There it is. Another reference to the glori-

bers. As appreciative as I am, it still strikes

ous mess from which God brings life. The

that she would never be acceptable to God,

me as odd that someone would have to

church. So church leaders, let’s get out

and then fifteen years later walking into one

thank a pastor for creating a church that is

there and do what Jesus died to make pos-

of our churches and feeling “immediately at

doing the very thing the church was created

sible. Let’s heed brother James’ advice. Let’s

home.” I don’t have words.

to do in the first place. Why should that be

rid our churches of anything that makes

the exception and not the rule?

it difficult for those who are turning to

The turning point for Jessie came during a

God. Let’s proclaim God’s liberating truth.

message preached by one of our associate

It’s a shame that so many churches are

Let’s create communities characterized by

pastors Rodney Anderson. She said, “Dur-

married to a designed-by-Christians-for-

grace. Let’s get comfortable with the ten-

ing a message I heard Rodney say, ‘There’s

Christians-only culture. A culture in which

sion, the inconsistency, and the messiness

a monumental difference in believing in

they talk about the Great Commission, sing

that ensues.

God and believing God.’ That hit home. I

songs about the Great Commission, but

had always believed in God, but I had not

refuse to reorganize their churches around

believed God.” She went on to describe the

the Great Commission. These are often the

transformation she experienced as a result

same churches where members talk about

of embracing God’s forgiveness, love, and

grace, sing about how “amazing” it is, but

grace. She concluded with this, “I have now

create graceless cultures where only those

filled my emptiness with the love of Jesus.”

who play by the rules feel welcomed.

That’s what happens when you decide to follow the apostle James’ advice. That’s

So we have our work cut out for us. But

what happens when you decide that under

what an incredible work it is. We are privi-

no circumstance will you do anything that

leged to be stewards of the church of our

Let’s be the church. www.andystanley.com

Stanley, Andy. Wide and Deep. Zondervan, Grand Rapids Michigan 49530, 2012. Print. Gungor, “Beautiful Things.”. Copyright © 2009 worshiptogether.com. Songs (ASCAP) (adm.at EMICMGPublishing.com). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Whenever I’m enjoying a great conversation with someone I just met and they ask what I do for a living, I’m occasionally tempted to lie. On a recent flight, I sat by a business guy named Steve whose demeanor instantly changed when he discovered that I’m a pastor. Defensively, he exclaimed, “Well, I’m not religious!” I nodded and said, “No problem,” and tried to return to our discussion of our favorite apps.

way, they discount and denounce every

However, my response must not have been

First, religion leads you to focus on the

sion. In our world, it might be Christ plus

convincing because he repeated himself

external rather than the internal. Religion

church membership. Or Christ plus tithing.

and fired an extra warning shot in case

requires a behavior-oriented path toward

Or Christ plus “the right” doctrine or theol-

I’d missed the first: “I’m not religious, and

pleasing God. Religious people, often

ogy. But the gospel is Christ plus nothing.

I can’t stand religious people.” I looked at

well-intentioned, focus on an outward

The final work of Christ on the cross is ev-

him for a moment and said, “We’ve got a

expression

erything we need.

lot in common then. I’m not religious and I

transformation. Religion is our effort to

can’t stand religious people either!”

close the gap between sinful humans and

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t come to make us

rather

than

an

inward

other style or philosophy. In doing so, they unknowingly become sour, self-righteous people. Why in the world would someone without Christ want to join a joyless, cynical, hypercritical and judgmental group of religious people? Toxic religion tries to add rules, regulations, and requisites to the free gift that God offers us through relationship with his Son. Religion is Christ plus anything. In Galatia, some thought it was Christ plus circumci-

a holy God. Sadly, it reduces the beauty of

religious. He brought us the good news

Christianity was not intended to be a re-

the Gospel to a checklist of do’s and don’ts.

of his eternal life, a relationship with the

ligion but rather a relationship with God.

Rules try to regulate religion.

living God. Religion is about me. Relation-

Yet from the time Jesus walked on earth,

ship is about Jesus. Religion is about what

people have tried to add rules to the rela-

Not only does religion focus on the exter-

I do. Relationship is about what Jesus has

tionship. In fact, the Apostle Paul battled

nals rather than the internals, but this ex-

done. Religion says, “If I obey God, He will

a group known as the Judiazers who said

ternal emphasis produces an internal pride.

love me.” Relationship says, “Because God

a male must not just believe in Jesus, but

Rule-following religious people believe

loves me, I can obey.” Religion believes we

he must also be circumcised to be right

their behavior and beliefs are right and ev-

have to do good things to get God’s ap-

with God. Paul said, “Evidently some peo-

eryone else is wrong. It’s like a piece of food

proval. Relationship says we get to do good

ple are throwing you into confusion and

that spoils—not only is it nasty and ruined,

things because God already approves us

are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ”

but it omits a noxious smell as well.

through Christ!

pervert is mestastrepho and means to cor-

No wonder then that many non-Christians

There’s nothing more we need to do.

rupt, to distort or to poison. Even with right

can’t stand Christians. For starters, our

motives, people take the purity of the gos-

spiritual pride often makes it impossible

pel and pollute it with religion.

for us to get along with each other. Why

(Gal. 1:6–7). The Greek word translated as

should we be any better with anyone else? Any time you stumble into toxic religion,

Some religious Christians are so convinced

you’ll likely see two poisonous problems.

that their way of doing church is the only

Nothing. www.swerve.lifechurch.tv

23


2012 Speakers JAMES MACDONALD

ANDY STANLEY

@jamesmacdonald

@andystanley

James MacDonald (D. Min.

and around the world. James

Andy Stanley is a pastor, com- Community Church, and Wa-

Phoenix

has

also teaches on Walk in the

municator, and the founder termarke Church.

committed his life to the

Seminary)

Word, a daily radio broadcast

of North Point Ministries

unapologetic proclamation of

committed to “igniting passion

(NPM). Since its inception in Andy’s books include the re-

God’s Word. He is the found- in the people of God through

1995, North Point Ministries cently re-released When Work

ing senior pastor of Harvest

has grown from one campus to and Family Collide, as well as

the proclamation of truth.”

Bible Chapel, one of the fastest

five in the Atlanta area and has Enemies of the Heart, The Grace

growing multi-site churches in

James is the author of several

helped plant over thirty strate- of God, Next Generation Leader,

the Chicago area reaching over

books including Lord, Change

gic partner churches globally.

13,000 lives each weekend.

My Attitude, Gripped by the

Andy and his wife, Sandra, live

Greatness of God, When Life

Each Sunday, more than 30,000 in Alpharetta, Georgia, and

and How Good is Good Enough?

Through James’ leadership and is Hard, and most recently Al-

people attend worship services have three teenage children.

by God’s grace, a church plant- ways True. James and his wife,

at one of NPM’s five campuses:

ing ministry was formed in

Kathy, have three adult chil-

Browns Bridge Community

2002, Harvest Bible Fellowship,

dren and make their home in

Church, Buckhead Church,

which has planted more than 73 suburban Chicago. churches across North America 24

Gwinnett Church, North Point


NLC 2012

JUD WILHITE

CRAIG GROESCHEL

@judwilhite

@craiggroeschel

Jud Wilhite is an author, speak- “saved their lives” through er and senior pastor of Central the church. Christian Church in Las Vegas. His passion is to help people Jud is the author of several

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multicampus church, with over eighty weekly worship experiences in sixteen locations, including online.

far from God experience his books, including the ECPA radical grace in Jesus. As a best-sellers Torn and Throw it teenager, Jud wrestled with Down, Uncensored Grace and addiction for several years Eyes Wide Open. He’s been before surrendering his life to interview by media outlets inGod. The grace God extended cluding NBC, FOX and The 700 through a local church com- Club and has written many armunity saved his life. Out of ticles for publications including that experience Jud dedicated The Washington Post, Beliefnet, his life to help others who are and Christianity Today Online. hurting find healing, and to do it through the local church.

Jud graduated from Dallas Christian College and holds a

Central is consistently listed as master’s degree from Lincoln one of the largest and fastest Seminary. He is an espresso growing churches in America. fanatic and loves playing and With four physical locations in studying guitar. His wife, Lori, Las Vegas and a growing online leads a dynamic blog and comcampus, Central innovated the munity of faith for pastor’s launching of multi-site church wives and women in ministry campuses inside prisons in called Leading and Loving It. several states with God Behind He and Lori have two kids and Bars. In a recent survey, over live in the Las Vegas area. ninety percent of people surveyed at Central said that God

MATT CHANDLER @mattchandler74 Matt Chandler serves as Lead both locally and internationPastor of Teaching at The Vil- ally through The Village and lage Church in Flower Mound, various

strategic

partner-

TX. He describes his eight- ships. Prior to accepting the year tenure at The Village as pastorate at The Village, Matt a re-planting effort where he had a vibrant itinerant miniswas involved in changing the try for over 10 years where he theological and philosophical spoke to thousands of people culture of the congregation. in America and abroad about The church has witnessed a the glory of God and beauty tremendous response growing of Jesus. from 160 people to over 10,000 including satellite campuses in His greatest joy outside of JeDallas and Denton.

sus is being married to Lauren and being a dad to their

Alongside his current role as three children, Audrey, Reid lead pastor, Matt is involved and Norah. in church planting efforts 25


Speakers continued PERRY NOBLE

JUDAH SMITH

@perrynoble

@judahsmith Pastor Judah Smith is the Lead from a new perspective. He Pastor of The City Church in also travels the nation and the Seattle, Washington. Together world ministering at churches with his wife Chelsea, they are and conferences, imparting pastoring the church of 7000, into the lives of Christian leada multi-site congregation with ers and young people. multiple

campuses

throughout the greater Seattle His ministry is noted for anointed

and

fresh

broadcast “live” via Satellite to preaching style mixed with all sites with ministry teams at humor, authority, passion and each location. Pastor Judah has authored several books including Dating Delilah, a book on purity

26

strong faith.

and Senior Pastor of NewS- ing people meet Jesus, and pring Church in Anderson. each week he shares God’s The church averages 16,000 word and its practical applicapeople during weekend ser- tion in our daily lives. vices at multiple campuses throughout South Carolina.

located

area. Weekly messages are an

Perry Noble is the founding vision and a passion for help-

Perry, his wife Lucretia and their daughter, Charisse, live in

Perry is a gifted communicator Anderson, South Carolina. and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. God has given him a


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2012 SPEAKERS COMBINED TRAVEL MILEAGE

STEVEN FURTICK @stevenfurtick Steven Furtick grew up in the weekly attendance. Because of small town of Moncks Corner, this explosive growth, ElevaSouth Carolina where at age 16 tion Church has been named he realized God’s plan for him one of the 10 fastest growto start a life-changing church ing churches in America by in a major metropolitan city.

Outreach Magazine in 2007,

This vision became a tan- 2008, 2009 and 2010. gible reality when Steven and 7 other families risked ev- Steven holds a degree in erything—sold houses, quit communication from North jobs and moved to Charlotte, Greenville

University,

and

North Carolina to plant a new the Master Divinity degree church—believing that God from Southern Baptist Theowould turn the city upside logical Seminary. He lives in down for His glory. That risk the Charlotte area with his birthed Elevation Church and wife, Holly, their two sons has resulted in a remarkable Elijah and Graham, and their return. Through God’s favor daughter Abbey. and a relentless pursuit of a singular mission to see people far from God filled with life in Christ, in just four years, Elevation has seen thousands of professions of faith and grown to more than 10,000 in

27


DEVOTIONAL


NLC 2012

ILHITE BY JUD W


e’ve all heard people say such things like, “I don’t need the church and religion; I have my own relationship with God,” or, “Organized religion is for mindless people,” or even “Organized religion and the church are human creations; Jesus didn’t start a church and so I don’t need any of that non-sense.” Maybe you’ve even felt or said some of these things yourself. Lots of conversations have me thinking about these distinctions. For years I’ve said the faith journey is about a “relationship more than a religion,” but only after being questioned by someone did I realize that I hadn’t thought the differences through very well beyond that phrase. The main difference between “religion” and “relationship” is our approach or attitude. It has less to do with whether or not Christianity is organized or structured, and more to do with what we expect to get out of it. James writes, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27). So there is such a thing as good religion that cultivates and restores both our association with God and the people who need help in our culture. When I use the term religion, however, I’m talking about the not-so-good religion that reduces faith to ritual acts of devotion done for the wrong reason. Religion in this sense approaches God as one might approach a car salesman for a transaction. The salesman wants to get as much out of you for as little as possible, and you want to get as much out of him for as little as possible. You both negotiate and compromise, passing notes with final amounts, until you reach an agreement that satisfies you both. Once you have completed the negotiations, you are both under 30

certain obligations to each other—usually you are obligated to pay the salesman money, and he is obligated to give you keys and a vehicle to drive off the lot. This is how religion often approaches God. It says God wants certain things from us— our time, money, attention, worship—you get the idea. We want certain things from God, too—a successful job, good health, a happy marriage, a nice house, the latest cars, and more. We do stuff for God, like praying, going to church, and giving money when we have to and we expect him to do certain things for us, like provide us with a well-paying job and a healthy family. Or maybe it isn’t material blessings we’re after. Maybe what we want from God is forgiveness and eternal life. So if we do all the right things in this life, then we’ll have our mansion in heaven in the next. Now, certainly none of these things are bad in themselves—a good job, happy family, forgiveness and eternal life. But if our approach is still that we have done certain things for God, so he is obligated to do certain things for us, like forgive us or dump the blessings truck, then we are still approaching God with that same religious car salesman attitude. Instead of selling cars or life insurance, God is selling forgiveness and eternal life insurance. With this approach we do things not out of love, but in order to negotiate with God— to put him in our debt, to broker a deal. Of course, there are some major problems with this kind of viewpoint. The Bible says God owns everything since he made it all, so negotiating with God is like borrowing a lawnmower from your neighbor and then trying to sell it back to him. The religious approach distorts our picture of who God is—His character, His personality, His passion. It gives us a picture of a

god who is reluctant to give us things, who grinds us down with constant ongoing negotiations and adherence to the minutiae of a legally binding contract (think of all that fine print on your phone service contract!). He only gives us forgiveness and eternal life because He needs things from us and must barter with us. This god is stingy, petty, capricious, and indifferent. He is not the living God we see in the Bible and in the lives of so many people who know him. So what does it mean to approach God with a relationship mindset, then? The “relationship” approach radically challenges the “salesman” picture of God. You don’t want a relationship with your car salesman and he doesn’t want a relationship with you, unless of course it will help him make the sale. But Christianity is different; it opposes this picture of God. God isn’t a salesman trying to sell us something, He is personal and seeking to have a relationship with us. This shift in attitude affects how we approach a lot of things. For example, I listed out some comparisons below between these two mindsets. Note that not everything in the “religion” category is bad, some of it is good, but insufficient and the “relationship category adds to it. (See right) The bottom line is that God has revealed Himself in the Bible as a personal God seeking to share life with us. He created us because He loves us and wants a relationship with us; He redeemed us through the life and death of Jesus because He loves us and wants a relationship with us; He gives us eternal life because He loves us and wants a eternal relationship with us. And more than anything, He wants our whole hearts dedicated to our relationship with Him. www.judwilhite.com


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1. 1. Follow Follow these these rituals rituals because because you you are are loved loved by by God God

10. 10. II tithe tithe because because II have have been been blessed blessed by by God God

2. 2. The The point point of of Christianity Christianity is is to to love love God God and and be be loved loved by by Him Him (relationship) (relationship)

11. 11. II read read my my Bible Bible to to know know about about the the God God whom whom II love love

3. 3. Christianity Christianity is is aa story story about about God’s God’s work work in in the the mess mess of of history history to to redeem redeem aa people people

13. 13. It’s It’s wrong wrong to to do do bad bad things, things, but but Jesus Jesus has has forgiven forgiven your your sins sins and and loves loves you you like like aa son son

4. 4. You You are are aa son son

14. 14. II share share my my faith faith because because II want want aa relationship relationship with with others others as as Christians Christians and and because because II want want them them to to have have aa relationship relationship with with God God like like mine mine

5. 5. God God is is near near 6. 6. Grow Grow in in wisdom wisdom and and maturity maturity

12. 12. II worship worship because because II am am overcome overcome with with love love for for God God

7. 7. Relationship Relationship is is for for everyday everyday 8. 8. II serve serve God God so so that that II can can enjoy enjoy Him Him 9. 9. II pray pray in in order order to to get get time time with with God God

1. 1. Follow Follow these these rituals rituals and and you you will will be be loved loved by by God God

9. 9. II pray pray in in order order to to get get things things from from God God

2. 2. The The point point of of Christianity Christianity is is to to be be saved saved from from hell hell (fire (fire insurance) insurance)

10. 10. II tithe tithe in in order order to to be be blessed blessed by by God God

3. 3. Christianity Christianity is is aa set set of of abstract abstract theological theological propositions propositions

12. 12. II worship worship because because aa powerful powerful God God demands demands it it

4. 4. You You are are aa servant servant 5. 5. God God is is distant distant 6. 6. Make Make rules rules to to avoid avoid sin sin

11. 11. II read read my my Bible Bible in in order order to to know know what what to to do do 13. 13. It’s It’s ok ok if if you you do do bad bad things—you things—you will will just just have have to to do do extra extra good good things things 14. 14. II share share my my faith faith because because II want want others others to to know know that that II am am right right and and special special

7. 7. Religion Religion is is for for Sundays Sundays 8. 8. II serve serve God God so so that that II can can enjoy enjoy other other things things

31


SUCCESS IS A HOLLOW GOAL BY MATT CHANDLER

32

I spend a good portion of my week in dialogue with pastors. They are from different denominations and tend to be different ages (although most of them are young). The conversations range from theology to philosophy, from church growth to how to lead a staff. I enjoy them. I love robust discussion over things on those matters. I like it when the unanswerable questions are asked and wrestled over—it somehow feeds my soul.


NLC 2012

Lately, though, I have been somewhat disturbed by something I am hearing or maybe sensing in the questions and directions of the conversations in which I find myself.

THE GRANDIOSE OR THE GOSPEL? When I exited itinerant (traveling) ministry to become a pastor, I left crowds that were in the thousands and finances that more than provided for my family, to go to a small, 160-person church that cut my annual salary in half. There wasn’t one person who thought that taking the position at the Village was a “smart” move. In fact, several actually sat me down and told me they thought I was being disobedient and a bad steward of the gifts that God had imparted to me. The truth is I didn’t become the pastor of a church in the suburbs of Dallas because I had a grand vision for growing a dynamic, life-transforming, church-planting, gospelpreaching, God-centered church. I took the position because after a great deal of conversations, prayers and fasting, my wife and I felt it was the direction God, through the Holy Spirit, was leading us.

ALL FOR HIS CRUSHING MAJESTY I came to the Village because I thoughtthat by doing so I would get to see more of Jesus, experience more of Him, sense more of Him, see more of me die, more of my flesh perish, the old man in me lose more power, etc. He is the great end that I am after. He is why: In 1 Timothy 4:10, Paul writes “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I love that verse. We toil, yes. We strive, yes. But where is our hope?

What, or rather, who is the goal? I love preaching the Gospel and I love planting churches, but I do those things because in them there is this unbearable weight of His presence, this crushing majesty that makes me want to cry, sing, and scream all at the same time.

“SUCCESS” IS A HOLLOW GOAL The thing that disturbs me lately is that it seems we’ve made the goal something else all together. We think the goal is growing our churches to a certain size or our platforms (pulpits, blogs, books) to a certain fame. How hollow is that? And, how dangerous? Just because men love Jesus and follow Him doesn’t mean that they get to grow a platform or reach a certain level of “success,” a word I use loosely.

OUR ONLY GOAL IS CHRIST If your hope is set on anything other than Jesus, how do you survive when it goes bad? How do you remain passionate and vibrant when no one comes or the baptismal waters are still for long stretches? How do you maintain doctrinal integrity or teach hard things if He isn’t the treasure? How do you worship when your wife gets sick or your son goes for a ride in an ambulance? If Jesus is the goal, the treasure, the pursuit, then those things are fuel that presses you into His goodness and grace all that much more. I am not saying they are pleasant or enjoyable but only that if He is your goal then you will find your faith sustained.

Here are a few men who loved our great God and King and were obedient beyond the norm: Moses spends his whole life with grumbling whiners and dies without getting to walk into the promised land. Samson suicide bombs the Philistines, and when the dust settles, he is dead and the Philistines still rule over Israel. One of David’s sons rapes his sister and another leads a rebellion against him, dethroning him for a season. Jeremiah ends up in exile with the rest of the country after repeatedly getting beaten for preaching what God commanded him to preach. John the Baptizer is beheaded by a pervert who gives his head to a 15-year-old stripper. Peter is killed, reportedly crucified upside down. Paul is killed in Rome but only after he spends his life (with thorn intact) being beaten, rejected, lost at sea, and consistently dealing with people coming in behind him and destroying what he built.

May God bless you and keep you. May you see that He is the treasure, that He is the pursuit, that He is the goal—and may you press on toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 33


DEVOTIONAL

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NLC 2012

BY JUDAH S MI T H

It was the morning of October 27, 2007, and my prayer time had degenerated into a venting session. I was the youth pastor at The City Church in Seattle at the time, and in my opinion, the youth ministry wasn’t growing big enough or fast enough. My team and I were all trying our hardest, but we had hit a plateau and couldn’t seem to break through. 35


The book of Acts with its supernatural stories and explosive church growth wasn’t blessing me so much as it was frustrating me. “Why, God? Why don’t we see these things here in Seattle? How can we make

that, I’ll probably hide under the kitchen table—but a phrase branded itself on my brain: Grace grows the church. Immediately, I remembered Acts 4:33: “And great

our youth group and church grow?”

grace was upon them all.”

My prayer time ended, and I got in the

I didn’t think too much about it at the time,

shower, still frustrated, still complaining to God. He’s used to that, I’m sure. David was a great complainer. The entire book of Psalms can pretty much be summed up by: “God, why do the wicked have all the gold, glory, and girls, and here I am running for my life, and You don’t even care; please, please, PLEASE help me…actually, come to think of it, you are God, and you are good, and I trust You, and sooner or later, things will work out for Your glory and my salvation, and I guess I’ve got a great life after all, and I love you. Selah.” When I stepped out of the shower, God 36

spoke to me. Not audibly—if He ever does

but looking back, that was a defining moment in my life and ministry. I began to see grace everywhere I looked: in the Bible, in my church, in God’s dealings with me. I didn’t know that a year later I would become the preaching pastor of our church or that two years later I would take over from my dad as lead pastor. Leading a church with a weekly attendance of over six thousand, a staff of over a hundred, and a multimillion-dollar budget is more than intimidating, and without that revelation of grace, I wouldn’t have survived.


NLC 2012

While the transition has not always been

hundred thousand. In the words of their

hard work. But they must begin and end

easy—change never is—God’s grace has

enemies, they turned the world upside

with grace, or they won’t last. If I have to

been more than enough. Our attendance

down. Two thousand years later, two billion

be smart enough and tough enough to do

is up, dozens are getting saved each week,

people are called Christians.

this all on my own for the next thirty years, please, just shoot me now! As I’ve told my

giving has increased even in the midst of Was that the ingenuity of a man? Were

church more than once, if you were thirty

the Disciples holed up in the upper room,

years old and had six thousand people

Grace is the central theme of the Bible.

plotting how to create a worldwide phe-

showing up every week expecting to hear

Taking grace out of the Bible would be like

nomenon that would span two millennia?

something new, profound, and biblical,

taking speed away from a running back:

Did they just get lucky? Or was great grace

you’d be preaching grace, too!

you wouldn’t have much left. Fourteen New

upon them all?

recession, and lives are being changed.

Our greatest efforts and best-laid plans

Testament books begin with a reference to grace, and fifteen end with one. The mes-

Forget the spreadsheet, calculator, and

won’t accomplish in a lifetime what God’s

sage is clear: start with grace and end with

pencil—you won’t figure out how the Early

grace will do in a moment. His grace is

grace, and you’ll get the job done.

Church grew with logic alone. It’s no coin-

the reason we are serving Him in the first

cidence that the first time we see church

place. It’s why we care about the lost and

Think back to the origins of the church

growth mentioned, we hear that “The Lord

why we minister to people—even the mean

in Acts 2. A group of uneducated and

added to the church daily those who were

ones. It’s grace that draws in hurting people

fear-struck nobodies were filled with the

being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

who need to belong before they can believe or behave.

power of the Spirit, and in one afternoon, three thousand people were saved. Soon,

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not

the number grew to five, ten, twenty, one

dismissing the importance of strategy or

It’s grace that grows the church. www.judahsmith.net

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DEVOTIONAL


NLC 2012

Glimpse SERVING AT NLC

If our staff didn’t show up today, you wouldn’t notice (well, except for maybe Perry). But without our volunteers, everything would fall apart. At NewSpring we believe Saved People Serve People.

PHOTO BY CHRIS ISHAM


DEVOTIONAL

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NLC 2012

Leadership through Serving BY B R OO K E G E O RG E

It is such a joy to come alongside hundreds of volunteers from every campus and serve everyone walking in the doors of NewSpring. This joy is contagious as each volunteer an-

from each of our campuses, the experience

ticipates the opportunity they will have to

of unity also extends into the guests we get

impact the world by how they serve each

to serve. It's breath taking when you really

guest here in Anderson, SC. What an hon-

think about coming together with many

or that we get to be the church and be the

leaders and church leaders from all over

hands and feet of Jesus. God uses each of

the world to talk about Jesus and His plan

us in a special way to be the love of Jesus to

for leadership. It's always very encouraging

others. At an event like this I feel so privi-

for us as volunteers to hear the stories of

leged to not only represent Jesus, but also

what God is doing in churches around the

our church. I love my Church. Serving oth-

world. And many times we get to share and

ers is what we are all called to do. When we

encourage leaders of God's power in and

are simply obedient to the Lord's call on our

through us. It opens all of our eyes to how

lives, there is a fullness of life poured out on

big our God is and how much He loves us.

us. His joy overflows in us and through us. I will take a vacation day any day to have the

It is our prayer that every guest leaves NLC

opportunity to serve at NLC.

encouraged to be the leader God has called them to be. May how I serve you today wa-

While it is such a unifying experience for

ter the seed planted in the words spoken

me as a volunteer to serve beside volunteers

from the stage.

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DEVOTIONAL

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NLC 2012

@mattchandler74 “Don’t mistake a church on every corner for spiritual vibrancy or Gospel changed lives. Galatians 4:8-10” @stevenfurtick “Our capacity for vision is not like a hard drive that gets full—more like a muscle that expands with use.” @craiggroeschel “Define your values clearly. What you value determines what you do!”

@jamesmacdonald “Lay down your assumptions about churches that ‘feed’ people or ‘reach’ people. God showing up in power give both and a lot more.” @perrynoble “Leaders must always remember that people > process”

@andystanley “Inconsistency between what a leader says and what a leader does inflicts a mortal wound on a leaders credibility.” @judwilhite “Churches don’t just grow and become healthy. They are led there. Planning well for an average Tuesday...” @judahsmith “Jesus served the selfish and healed the harmful. Amazing. Grace.”

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NLC 2012