Monday, April 11, 2016

I wonder if this is why people would want to go to church...

Written by Serena Murphy

Two nights ago I attended a meeting in Hilliard to represent the "faith community" for a drug awareness program. The meeting was made up of people representing Hilliard police, teachers, community sports leagues, moms who have lost kids to heroin overdoses and a Hilliard graduate who is 22 and has been in recovery for a year and a half.

During the meeting, I learned staggering facts about addiction and how our communities are getting hit hard with heroin and other drugs and how people are looking for resources for help and hope. A mom who lost her son nine months ago said to me, "I went to the local church and they didn't want to talk about it; I just don't think they knew what to do or where to send me. It's embarrassing to tell people, ask for help and to have your child in and out of recovery programs month after month, year after year. People wonder what's wrong with that family, what's wrong with you as a parent. At least you feel that way and you become so full of shame and embarrassment." I wanted to apologize on behalf of the Church and say I am so sorry she feels shameful, it’s not her fault and that I think sometimes the Church isn't "there" and ready to help. We do need to do a better job.

This has really made me think about the message we are sending as a church. People secretly tell me that their marriages are falling apart, but they don't think people understand because others have the "perfect" marriage and "perfect" children. People are struggling with many things: addiction, kids who are gay, depression, kids drinking and so on and so on. But, some of them think they can't come to church with that kind of life. One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is "True connection is birthed when one person says to another, ‘you, too? I thought I was the only one.’"

I wish I could put signs up and down Alton Darby Road that say, "We are not the church for perfect people." And we by no means are the perfect church. In fact, we are so imperfect. We are parents of heroin addicts. We are people who have had affairs, divorced and lied. We struggle with shame, doubt, depression and anxiety. Our kids aren't perfect and neither are our marriages. We lose our jobs and we lose loved ones. Sometimes, we may act like we are perfect and have it all together and for that we are very sorry. We don't want you to think you have to clean up your life before you enter our doors or talk to one of us in the community. We want to accept you as you are because we know what it felt like when we were accepted as we were. We want to lead you to help and hope. We want to tell you there are some of us like you here and we are on the same road as you. Some of us may be further along and some of us may not be. All of us have fallen down at some point but we all want help getting back up and taking another step. Most of us have found our only true hope is in Christ and we've learned through it all that He is our only source of hope and healing. Some of us are still searching. What most of us have realized is we can't do life on our own. You have to have people beside you who understand. And that's what we want you to know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why Multiple Services, Video Teaching, and Multisites

A few months ago on the Alton Darby campus, we had a momentary loss of electricity during two of our morning services as a result of the weather. This “unexpected opportunity” resulted in me finishing the remainder of the sermon in person. Eventually, safety lights and computers came back on and the message on what to do when we encounter hard times in life was communicated and I believe many questions were answered through the message. Several people have expressed thanks to the staff for pulling together in the midst of a challenging time so everyone could finish the service. Thank you for your encouraging messages!

Since this happened, I've had the opportunity to go back and recommunicate the vision of why we do multiple services, video teaching and multisites. I realize there are people worshipping today with the Cypress family who were not here two years ago when we made these decisions. So, here is an overview as to why we do what we do.

1. Why do we do Multiple Services?
Every church facility has a maximum seating capacity. Throughout the years at Cypress, we've reached our maximum capacity several times during our "prime time" services and, as a result, we added another service. Each time we reach capacity at a service, we have to decide if we are willing to sacrifice and add another service to create room for more people. Our answer at Cypress will always be "yes,” we WILL sacrifice and add another service to create more room. Additional services are the most cost effective way to create more options for people to attend and invite their friends so that's another benefit to multiple services. Please read Romans 5:8.

In addition, I’m really thankful for the leaders and the people at Cypress who first "crossed the multiple-service river" back in the 1980’s. They were great examples to us of the importance of sacrifice and making more room for more people. And, more importantly, I am thankful for God's faithfulness. The number of people baptized this past year at Cypress is more than the number of people who attended Cypress a few decades ago. 2015 Open Baptism Recap

2. Why do we use Video Teaching?
Two years ago, after praying and seeking God, we made the decision to move to video teaching. We currently offer five services on the Alton Darby Campus and one at our Dublin Campus with plans to add more as these campuses continue to grow. I teach live at the Saturday night service and all other services (at all campuses) are video teaching. Notice that I used the words "currently". Why…because video teaching is a method and methods change. In five or ten years, we will probably utilize a new technological advancement to reach people. Most importantly, the mission and message of the church never changes. We will continue to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to share the message of Christ.

Here are a couple of ways that methods change: way before the Bible was printed and available to “regular people,” the apostles (pastors) carried letters from church to church for people to pass around and read. This was the normal way of reaching people with the message of Christ. Then Bibles were printed by hand but they became so expensive many people could not afford them. In the 1400’s, the printing press was invented and everyone was able to get a copy of their own Bible and didn't have to rely on oral tradition.

There are so many great technological advancements in our world today and I'm so proud to be a part of a church that doesn't fight against it or ignore it, but uses it to spread the message of Christ to reach more people.

One more benefit of video teaching: there is no way I (or anyone) could teach live at all six services every weekend, get the work completed during the week that I have to do, prepare each weekend for a message that I've spent time praying and preparing for and be a good husband and father. It would not be healthy for me. Several years ago I tried preaching multiple times every weekend and I was completely worn out after a while. I thank God for a church that allows me to use my gifts and is open to new ideas. It's been great!

3. Why do we do Multisites?
First, what is a multisite? It's Cypress Church in another area of our city- we are one church with multiple locations. Each multisite has a campus pastor who helps lead day-to-day operations and discern the ministry needs of those that attend that particular campus. Each campus also has the same message, worship, and staff for children, small groups and other ministries. Why do we do this? Again, to reach more people with the life-changing message of Christ. There are hundreds of people who attend the Alton Darby campus who live in neighboring parts of our city. While a “churched” person may drive 20+ minutes to attend worship, the reality for most people being 20+ minutes away is:

a. It’s too difficult to be plugged in during the week (growing in a group and serving)
b. It’s too difficult to invite friends who don’t go to church to make the drive with you

Our multisite strategy is built upon people at Cypress who already know and love Cypress. A new site allows people to attend church closer to their homes, to invite friends, to join small groups and community service projects with those who live in their community.


Does video teaching work?
Remember God spoke through a donkey to get his message across at one point (Numbers 22). However, humanly speaking, good Bible teaching works but God is never limited by a delivery mechanism.

One of the best criteria to determine if video teaching works is to ask if people are responding to the truth of the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Based on the response times at the end of our services, the Lord is speaking and many are responding. 

Why is the use of video teaching strategic?

Because the multisite strategy is working, we are in the process of praying and asking God to lead us to the locations of the next two multisite locations. We know that you may be called to go to the next Cypress multisite if it’s in your community. However, those of us who go are not leaving something as much as we are launching out and joining the biggest and most important project we will ever undertake…building His Church. Please pray for our future and get involved. We need YOU to help us spread the message of Christ across our city and beyond.

Why don’t we have other pastors preach in other services and sites?

Belonging to the Cypress family and the teaching of God’s word are two big things that unite us to a common vision. We strive to provide a consistent weekend experience regardless of the campus you attend so we’ve chosen to have one person on the weekend teach the message God has given him or her for all of us to hear. There will be different people who will preach at times, but the same person will teach and lead us through God’s Word on any given weekend.

What’s the most important thing I can do for our church in our effort to reach more people for Jesus?
  1. Pray
  2. Come to Worship
  3. Connect with a group where you can grow and be cared for
  4. Change - commit to a Serving Team so you can be used by God to provide a path for someone to experience the same life change that you have received from Christ
Thank you for all you do to live out your faith. I believe the best is yet to come!

Love ya,
Pastor Ken