Monday, June 6, 2011

Come on over!

Tonight, I am thinking about the significance of relationships that have been nurtured and developed in our home over the past year. I'll tell you the truth, if Shawnah had it her way, we would have guests in our home seven days a week. For me, yikes! There are times I am not quite as hospitable as my wonderful wife. One year ago we started meeting in our home on Sunday night with a few friends to pray together about starting a new church. That Sunday night group turned into a Bible study in our home. That Bible study group turned into a house church. On February 20, 2011 that house church started meeting on Sunday mornings for worship at Rock Springs Elementary School. What a year!

Here is the truth. My family and their willingness to share themselves and their home helped make this possible. I have taken a moment to do some calculations. Just counting Sunday nights and Wednesday nights (when the youth meet in our home), there have conservatively been 1920 visits by as best I can calculate 200+ different people in one year. But wait...there's more! That is just Sunday and Wednesday. That does not include all of the people who have walked through our doors on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each week. No wonder the latch on our front door keeps breaking and our carpet looks so dirty all the time:) You might think its a little funny that right now as I write this post there are 6 college kids our living room watching the movie Tangled!

Why am I thinking about all of this? I don't know. I guess I am just processing the importance of relationships. We need each other. The older we get, the less we do this. It seems ok to just drop in on someone when you are young, but at some point as we get older, we stop doing that.

What would happen if we all practiced the gift of hospitality? What would happen if I invited all my neighbors over (the ones I don't really know) for dinner one night this week? Would they come? Would they think we are weird? Truth is, they probably already think we are crazy because of all the cars parked in front of our house all the time. But I won't know until I do it!

Some of my neighbors are lost. How much do I have to hate someone not to tell them about Jesus Christ? Heaven and Hell are real and eternal. My mission field begins in my neighborhood. People of all nations live in my community and my subdivision.

Here is the hard question. Will those precious people become a guest in our home anytime soon? The initiative for that to happen begins with me and my passion to reach out with the amazing message of hope and grace found in Jesus Christ. Let's do this!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What was I thinking?

Most church planters ask themselves this question. "What was I thinking when I took the step of faith to plant a new church?" Church planting is just hard...period. At times over the past couple of months I have asked myself that same question. There is so much to do. At times I find myself absolutely overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. And then, God gently reminds me of who He really is and He alone does what only He can do.

Today at Hope Fellowship, God overwhelmed me.

This morning was the first time our young congregation participated together in communion. I borrowed an idea for communion that has been used by countless youth groups. We set up seven different stations on the outer perimeter of the gym at Rock Spring Elementary where we meet. Our church body was divided into six groups and rotated from station to station. At each station, a volunteer leader read scripture and challenged participants to reflect on the power of the Gospel.

The stations themes were:

1- Crown of thorns (participants hold and examine an actual crown of thorns)

2- Bitter vinegar (dip a q-tip in a cup of vinegar and taste the bitterness)

3- Cross and nails (drive a nail into a cross)

4- Temple veil torn (participants take small pieces of cloth and rip apart)

5- He knows my name (write name on poster and focus on our name recorded in book of life)

6- Roll dice (consider how Roman soldiers cast lots for Christ's robe and possessions)

Each of these stations included scripture/prayer/quiet meditation.

We then transitioned into communion. No traditional sermon today.

We remembered Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as we are instructed to do in the New Testament.

The final station after communion involved the simple reminder that Jesus is the light of the world and that each of us who follow Him are called to be that same light. Everyone was invited to light a small candle from a large pillar candle on a table at the front of our stage.

All of this led to the most important part of today's worship service. The invitation to respond to Jesus Christ. This is where we find hope. This is why I do what God has called me to do. This morning 7 people surrendered their life to Jesus! Forever changed.

I have quickly learned as a new church planter that the hard work, the challenges, the spiritual warfare, the times of being completely overwhelmed, are all 100% overcome by the power of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished at Calvary.

Thank you Jesus for today. Thank you for the wonderful gift of new life that I have personally experienced and thank you that 6 of my friends experienced that gift this morning.

What was I thinking when I took this step of faith to start a new church? I'm still processing all of that. I do however know that the fruit of our labor (family, friends, core group) when obedient to Christ is unstoppable! To Jesus be all glory.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

YEC, Shawnah's Dad, and other random thoughts...

Well, once again God blessed and has proved Himself faithful to answer the prayers of His people! This past weekend was YEC (Youth Evangelism Conference). This was my 13th year to coordinate YEC for the TBC. Wow - hard to believe! In short, it was an amazing weekend. 9540 teenagers and their leaders came from all over the state to Nashville for a great weekend. Afshin Ziafat and Derwin Gray preached. Bean & Bailey did comedy. Addison Road led worship in music. Get this - 511 recorded decisions of students surrendering their lives to Jesus! I know there were even more, but that is how many decision cards were tuned in to our volunteer ushers in the arena. On top of that, on Saturday over 1500 teens were mobilized all over the city to serve others. We partnered with a dozen ministries. It was pretty cool. One of the new ministries we had never worked with was Change this World. They sponsor food packing events and then send the food to the needy in third world countries. In one day, YEC students packed 51,000 meals! Again....amazing. Our YEC kids also donated over 1000 canned food items in one day to Second Harvest Food Bank. In the Saturday arena sessions, the students at YEC gave over $19,000.00 to a missions offering that will mobilize TN high school students to participate in international missions. Uhhhh - seriously great!

Here are a few random observations from my perspective about YEC 2011:
1. I will NEVER EVER get over having the privilege of standing on the stage right after the invitation and looking into the eyes of all those who have just come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. I get to see tears of joy, and the radiance of Jesus Christ literally reflecting off those at the stage/altar. I wish everyone could see what I get to see.
2. It is an honor to have an amazing team of co-workers from the TBC, my family, and about 100 other volunteers who are close friends that make the YEC weekend happen. Without them, the event simply would not happen. Thanks to a great team!
3. Again this year, God moved beyond what we expected Him to do. From the production guy who got saved, to the homeless people who were ministered to outside the arena, to the late night conversations at the hotel, Christ was glorified!
4. I think I am finally moving into a stage of life where I am less "stressed" about the weekend. Honestly, in the early years, I was pretty much a basket case. God has taught me much. He is in control. We prepare as best we can and trust Him for everything else.
5. I am not sure why, but I believe that God's plan is for Tennessee YEC to get off the plateau it has been stuck on and begin to grow again. I believe with all my heart that in 2012, many churches who have not attended YEC in several years will again join us in Nashville along with the hundreds of other churches that annually make YEC a significant weekend for their youth ministry.

OK, enough about YEC. This weekend was also challenging for our family. During the weekend Shawnah was constantly on the phone getting updates from OKC. Her dad is in the hospital. Infection, surgery, complications. Saturday night was rough. Gwen and David said the kinds of things over the phone you never want to hear. Our only hope is Jesus! Close friends started praying specifically. We prayed that Ken's high temperature would drop, that the fluid on his lungs would go away, that his breathing would improve, and that the serious infection would be reduced. Sunday morning when Shawnah called the hospital, we learned that God was faithful to hear our prayers and give Ken a healing touch! Shawnah is on the road tonight headed to OKC to spend a few days with her dad. He has a long journey ahead. Pray with us that Christ will be honored and His Kingdom exalted as Ken and Gwen trust Christ daily in this process.

And finally, an update on Hope Fellowship Church. We have met the last four Sunday mornings at Rock Springs Elementary for worship. Week after week, God is providing, guiding, and giving us unity as we move forward. I have communicated to our core group that our first six weeks together is for us to just "figure out" how to have church on Sunday mornings in a school. We are looking at Easter - April 24th as our official grand opening. That sounds a little weird. Oh well. I'm also pretty pumped about what we are doing this Friday morning! Some of us are going to host a breakfast for the faculty at Rock Springs Elementary Friday at 7:00 a.m. Our goal is to bless the teachers at Rock Springs. We want them to know we are thankful for their calling to teach. We want to bless them, encourage them, and just love on them a little. Our desire is to be available to assist the school and support them as they have needs. Friday is our first opportunity to meet them. I can't wait to see what God does! If you are reading this and you live in middle TN and you want to love on some school teachers this Friday - you are definitely invited to join us!

Final thoughts for this post that is probably too long:
Tonight, I am reminded that most pastors of churches in America and around the world are bi-vocational just like me! They have a regular Monday - Friday job and they also pastor with the spare time they have at night and on the weekends. Let me just say, part-time ministers - YOU ROCK!
My dad was a part-time minister for over 25 years. For the first time in my life I am beginning to understand just a little bit of what his world looked like. Yeah, it's crazy, but God amazingly gives us His strength, His grace, and His Spirit to minister. To Jesus be all Glory!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Non-stop weekend...but all good!

What a weekend!
Friday - stuffed 1500 packets for youth sponsors bringing students to YEC! (thanks to some great co-workers for helping) A late afternoon trip to Brantley Sound to pick up equipment for Hope Fellowship. Then, off to Rock Springs Elementary to put up banners Friday night before the rains came. Supper with the entire family at Cracker Barrel (a great time - just family)

Saturday morning sermon review and prep for speaking engagement at Wilhite Baptist in Cookeville, TN. I was invited to speak at a Father/Daughter banquet. Pastor Tim Miles did a great job making this event happen. Molly went with me as my date and honestly, we had a great time! Also had a blast making some new friends at Wilhite. I had never been to a Father/Daughter banquet. It really was awesome. Then back to the casa Saturday night. Some late night work still trying to figure out Media Shout. Jared is much better with it than I am! One more overview of Sunday sermon then hit the sack.

Sunday morning alarm set for 6:00 a.m. - hit snooze once. Got up at 6:10 so we could be at Rock Springs by 7:00 to set up. Today was our first Sunday to do the entire set up on Sunday morning. Our first two weeks we were given permission to set up on Saturday night. The pressure was on! All went well - everything set up in time - sound checks and all! We are so blessed that God is providing people already to serve behind the scenes and make Hope Fellowship happen each week. Worship today was pretty amazing. Loved having Patrick and Lindsey Edwards, Jonathan Brindle, and Kristina Birkhead share testimonies about their mission work in Brazil, Europe, and Haiti. Wow! I am blown away at the faith and obedience of these young servants. We had a great crowd today for week three! Kinda funny that no one counted. All I know is that the chairs set up were 80 - 90% filled and we also had 10 babies/toddlers in the preschool today! God continues to prove Himself faithful and His timing is such a huge part of what we are experiencing at Hope Fellowship Church. After we packed up, we then headed straight to Covenant Baptist for a 1:30 video shoot. We are taping testimonies of students to use at YEC next weekend! I'm pretty excited about how these are going to turn out! Nic (our video man) is the same guy that does video for Passion/Catalyst/etc. How about that for a name drop:)
After video shoot, back to the house. Took a nap! AWESOME! Then got up, went to grocery store, came home, started cooking bacon and pancakes for our kids and some of their friends! Played signs, killer, and mafia with these hooligans. Pretty fun.

Obviously, life is busy right now. But the truth is, I really sense that our entire family is 100% doing what God has called us to do. It is a sweet time. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze frame where we are right now. Not sure if that will make sense to anyone? I want to give glory and honor to Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. It is His provision, His grace, His sacrifice, and His power that guides me each day. As my family and I start another week (YEC week) my prayer is that we will all stay focused on Christ alone.

Keep praying for us and let me know how I can pray for you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where do I begin?

This week has been amazing! There have been highs, lows, laughter, crying, affirmation, doubts. Name an emotion....I think we've experienced them all this week. Tonight, I am reflecting on the first HOPE FELLOWSHIP corporate worship service that took place this morning at Rock Springs Elementary. There has been much prayer this week. Friends here in Tennessee and literally around the globe have prayed. We are THANKFUL for your prayers! Please keep praying that we will effectively and intentionally share the Gospel and keep Jesus Christ and His Kingdom first.

Over the years I have talked to dozens of church planters. For the most part they all say the same thing. You often hear, "It's the hardest thing I've ever done". They say, "You better be sure that God has clearly called you to church planting." But most of them also say, "It's the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have ever done." After six months of "house church" on Sunday nights and week one of Sunday morning corporate worship, I think I have seen a small glimpse of what those who have gone before me have referenced.

Today was pretty awesome! I realize that my emotions are all over the place right now and not everyone who attended HOPE FELLOWSHIP may feel the same way. Here is what I know. Jesus Christ and His Kingdom were our focus. Not much frill or fluff today. Not extremely polished. But we had corporate worship. We reflected on the importance of preparing our hearts for worship. We sang four songs. (Glory to God / How Great Thou Art / Fill Me Up / Here I Am to Worship) Thank you Greg and band! We were silent before God as we reflected on scripture. I started a series in the book of Nehemiah and today preached from chapter one. We prayed together and we gave tithes and offerings as an act of worship.

We had four Sunday school classes. Preschool/K-5/Youth/Adults. These groups met at 9:00. I am thankful for volunteers who made Bible study happen this morning!

Some of the funny stuff from today that makes me smile...
-Most often asked question - "Where are the donuts" (We just had coffee)
-Favorite quote from a core group member this afternoon, "I haven't been this excited since I got my first Camaro when I was 16".
-When referencing Hell's Kitchen TV show in my sermon I said "H - E - double hockey stick" instead of saying "Hell". Not sure why I did that? It just came out that way.
-Having youth Sunday school in the cafeteria where all the walls are BIG windows by the main entrance is probably not the best idea. I should have known better! Duh.

For those of you who are number people, here you go! We had 87 today. The offering was just over $1900.00. I put this last on purpose. My personal tendency is to think that attendance is based on my performance as a leader and pastor. I don't want to go there right now.

In summary, I was overwhelmed (in a good way) with everything about today!
Great is His faithfulness.

Giving Jesus Christ all GLORY tonight!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A long overdue update from The Shingleton's!

Where do I begin? Seriously! Maybe this will give you an idea. We knew we were too busy to send Christmas cards this year so we made "Happy New Year" cards. Yep....still have not mailed them. It's Valentine's Day for crying out loud! Anyway. There is so much I could say but the main thing I want to do is to ask you to PRAY! For about five or six years I have personally felt God calling me to pastor and more specifically to start a new church. Back in July we asked a few close friends to pray with us about this. God gave us much affirmation during that time and that small prayer group developed into a small Bible study group. For the past six months, we basically have hosted a "house church" at The Shingleton Casa every Sunday night. The time together has been really rewarding. A few in the group are friends we have known for many years, but most in the group are newer friends. God has uniquely put together this team so that we might proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and plant a new church in Tennessee.

If you are one of those people who are saying right now, "like do we really need another church in Middle TN?", and I know some of you are thinking that, I will save the response to that question for a later date.

Fast forward to this week!

The reason we are asking for your prayer support is because this Sunday, February 20th, 2011 we will gather for the first HOPE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH Sunday morning worship service. This is honestly one of the most exciting and at the same time overwhelming things I have ever trusted God in! We don't have it all figured out....we just know that it is time.

Our idea is pretty simple. Bible study a.k.a. "Sunday School" at 9:00 and a worship service at 10:15. I would say that our first month at Rock Springs Elementary will be operating under the banner "less is more" - haha. But here is the TRUTH! With the power of prayer and a group of people who are obedient to God's call on their lives, Jesus Christ and His Kingdom will be honored.

You will have questions Kent, is this church Southern Baptist? Answer: YES

What about your ministry at the TBC? Answer: I have graciously been given permission to work full time at the TBC for now and be a "bi-vocational" church planter. I will need to make a decision about that status later this year.

So here we go. The web site is not even up yet. How awesome is that! I guess you could say right now we are kickin' it old school style.

For those of you who read this blog and live in Middle TN and are not active in a church....honestly, probably like 2 people, yeah, you are invited to worship with us!

This Sunday, February 20th - Rock Springs Elementary

1000 Waldron Road La Vergne, TN 37086

(two miles south on Waldron Road / La Vergne exit #64 off of I-24)
(if you live in Smyrna - take Sam Ridley until it dead ends into Blair. Right on Blair, left on Waldron to the school)

I want to take a minute now to praise Jesus Christ for what He has already done.

God has shown Himself as PROVIDER! Here are just a few of the miraculous things we are thankful for: Sound system for worship - 100% donated, Liability Insurance needed to meet in a public school - 100% donated, Rock Springs Elementary becoming available at just the right time with a gracious rental fee - 100% awesome, Logo design/Web site design/Promo design - 100% donated, Enclosed trailer loaned to us, Music stands and kids curriculum donated - A team of volunteer leaders willing to take this leap of faith with our family - 100% amazing.

I am humbled to be on this journey! If you would like a daily prayer guide that we are using this week as we pray together, simply respond to this blog post and we will email you a copy.

The family.....we are blessed. Shawnah has a new part-time job at Chico's, Jared is working at Blue Coast and in college, Maci praying about where to go to college, Molly is sweet 16 and has her driver's permit, and Sarah has now been full time in our home for 14 months. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of her mom's death.

We love you guys! God bless, Kent