Missional Living

“Your best ability is your availability.” – Trent Dilfer, ESPN Analyst and Super Bowl XXXV winning QB

I think this quote from Trent Dilfer also applies to neighbors and friends. You might be the best neighbor that your neighbors have ever had. You might become one of your neighbors’ closest friends. But it can only
happen if you’re around.

I don’t think anyone needs convincing that they need to be available to be a neighbor, to be a friend, and to connect people to life in Jesus. But it seems I still have difficulty with it.

For me, I think it’s because I’m unwilling to say no to things just to make space to be available. There are so many things I want to do, so many opportunities we have to do almost whatever we want, that even when I do say “no” to something that space is quickly filled with something else.

One thing I’m re-learning through the Pastoral Leader PLI, that I learned [or re-learned] through coaching, is that if I say I want to do something, if I say something is important to me, but I don’t do it, I need   to find out why.  Personally speaking, the “why” is often that I say something   is important to me because I know it should be, but in reality, I haven’t experienced the reward of doing that thing enough times that I would choose it over something that consistently rewards me in the moment.

So, in case you find yourself in the midst of another Summer full of plans and activities, wondering how you ever thought you would actually have more time to connect with your neighbors and friends once Summer [or let’s be serious, you could insert any season here] began, I want to challenge you right now to look at your calendar and schedule one night per week where you are  `  available for friends and neighbors. Then, resist the urge to fill it with other things, unless those things are with your neighbors and friends. Then, actually invite friends and neighbors to do something with you on two of those nights this Summer.

Urban campfire.  Put a fire ring in your driveway, in the front yard, or back yard if other neighbors can see it. Maybe make a habit of it, so that others can be ready to stop by the next time you’re out enjoying the evening.

Tickets.  This might seem to violate my own challenge, but if you get extra tickets to something you’re going to, and invite neighbors, it totally qualifies.  We recently got to know a neighbor much better when we had Mallard’s tickets we needed to find a home for. 

What night is going to be your  "neighbor night?”



Invitation Made Simple


What do the following have in common?

…discovering a fresh insight…working to build a community garden in a food desert…running…partnering with community service groups that are making a difference…worshipping at church…caring for the homeless…holding babies in the hospital nursery…subscribing to a new reading plan on the You Version Bible app… dedicating a new business…singing in the worship team…visiting the veterans at the VA…reading the Bible…coloring prayer…writing your 7-year dream…walking in the early morning…joining the altar guild…going on a youth mission trip [for adults and students]…camping…building a house…learning how to create God Space in every conversation [faithBuilders]...biking…learning about preaching…writing a blog post...sharing a story…walking a dog…praying now…

All of the above were actual invitations I have personally observed recently.

They were simply and effectively delivered through Facebook, in person, over the phone, with an email, by a hand-written note, or in a letter. Each invitation was   extended naturally with eagerness because the inviter was fully and enthusiastically engaged. They loved what they were doing and saw the value in it.

There is something undeniable and unquenchable about a person who possesses a fiery passion for what they are doing. It’s contagious. Duty, obligation, burden, fear, hesitancy, all seem to melt away.

As followers of Jesus I often wonder why that joy and natural effort is so rare. I also wonder what might happen in the lives of our friends and neighbors who don’t    follow Jesus if WE were to discover what we fully and enthusiastically loved as we followed Jesus. Do you think our friends and neighbors might be caught off guard and say, “I love it that they LOVE following Jesus”?

As you read this issue of the Good News ask yourself:
As I follow Jesus, in what am I enthusiastically and fully engaged?

With whom could I share my enthusiasm?

By the way, if you can’t answer these questions, start today by identifying someone who appears to be enthusiastically and fully engaged and ask them to share with you why they do what they do. This could be the first step for you to become part of a growing movement of people who are discovering the joy of an INVITATION MADE SIMPLE.


Mission Milwaukee 3

What an incredible week our youth have had at their mission trip in Milwaukee. It has a been a week that has opened our eyes to some great needs so close to home and has allowed us to generously pour out the love of Jesus to the community we partnered with as well as to each other.
On Thursday, students wrapped up their work sites for the week. They put finishing touches on their projects and prepared their sites for more servants to come in and work next week. Most students had an opportunity to attend a special gathering at Adullam. The worship leader invited students to come and hear about listening to God in prayer, and then students spent some time in prayer on their own. We wrapped up the day with a 2nd cookout at a community closer to the church where we have been staying. So many little kids attended this cookout!  We had a bounce house, face paint, nail polish, stickers, and sidewalk chalk. Partner that with some hot dogs and chips, and we had quite a party! Our mission trip participants had just as much fun as the little kids.
We spent some time enjoying each other and relaxing on Friday. The day began at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee. There we had the chance to hike, relax, and enjoy God's creation. From there we had lunch at Ian's pizza before spending the afternoon at the beach.
Students returned home on Saturday, ready and excited to continue pouring out the love of Jesus in their own neighborhoods! We would love for you to join us at a brunch from 12:15-2 pm on August 23rd. At the brunch you can hear stories and see the pictures of the trip, as well as allow the students to say "Thank You" for all of your love and support.

Mission Milwaukee Day 2

What a great God we serve! On Tuesday night, the mission trip participants were able to see God's love in action at a Community Cookout. We hosted the cookout for the neighborhood around Adullam Outreach. So many people from the community came to enjoy a burger and hot dog, fellowship, and some worship. We had a large number of children join us as well. Our students had a blast playing sidewalk chalk, football, frisbee, blubbles and face painting with the little ones. It was so encouraging to see our students so freely love these kids and their parents. 
That evening, around 10pm, Higher Ground students were able to then continue their worship with a late night jam session at the church we are staying at. They brought out their guitars, and spent an hour just worshipping and praising God. It was so contagious that the Next Step staff members and the other church that has joined us for the trip all came and joined in.
We are continuing to work hard to complete our projects. Yesterday, our team of guys finished digging 22 post holes for a new fence they are building! The
girls continue to paint, install flooring, and work on homes.
Thank you for continuing to keep us in your prayers! 

Mission Milwaukee

On Sunday, 25 high school students, 3 college age students, and 6 adults embarked on a week long mission trip to Milwaukee, WI. So close to home, it is shocking to learn that Milwaukee is the 4th poorest city in the nation and has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation. It is a city that struggles immensely with great needs. Today we also learned that Milwaukee is the only city of it's size and with it's needs that has never experienced a resurgence of faith. We feel honored to bring the love of Jesus to this place!
We are partnering with 2 organizations this week. The first is located in one of the highest need areas in Milwaukee. It is an organization that we first worked with 4 years ago, and those of us who were there for the 2nd time were overwhelmed by the magnitude of what God has done in this organization. Started by a man who had a vision to bring Jesus to Milwaukee, Adullam is a place of refuge in the inner city. Currently they help to meet the felt needs of the community, offer worship and prayer, operate as a bit of a community center, and provide a hot meal once a week. Future plans include hopes to start job training in a workshop and cafe located in the building, internet access and other support for the homeless, and discipleship training and a community living center for missionaries.  You can learn more about this ministry at http://www.adullamoutreach.com/. The second place we are partnering with is House of Love. This ministry provides housing for young adults who are in state custody but don't currently have foster homes. They help prepare young adults to be independent and to live on their own. They also operate homes for those 18+ who need help with housing and independent living as well as the elderly. You can learn more at http://www.house-of-love.org/.
Our students are working hard with these ministries! They are building fences, refinishing and installing flooring, painting, and other remodeling work. As always, we are quite proud of our young people. Their behavior is incredibly respectful and loving. They are immersing themselves in worship and discovering more about their faith. And, they are truly loving the community and each other as Jesus would. 
We look forward to updating you more as the week progresses. Please continue to pray for our students and leaders to have energy, motivation, compassion, and that they would each meet Jesus in a new way this week.