The longest flight from San Francisco is the nearly 16 hour flight to Dubai. The flight path takes you over the North Pole. I’m getting on this flight later today. Check out more details here.
God used this last Sunday’s sermon in a peculiarly powerful way in our church, so I thought I’d post it here: Jesus Loves You, So Stop Pretending.
God has assembled an awesome staff team at Garden City Church. I’d like you to meet them. You already know me, so we’ll skip me. Here are the three other members of our staff.
Colin Dobrin: Worship Leader/Deacon
As the son of a pastor and musician, Colin was fed a healthy portion of gospel and music at an early age. After playing brass instruments at school, playing drums in local bands, and leading worship at his high school youth group, he went on to study music at Vanguard University in Southern California.
It was at the end of college that Colin really felt the call to be a disciple of Christ, and the journey since has been quite an adventure. A Bay Area native, Colin is excited to be part of what God is doing at Garden City Church.
Aside from playing music, Colin gets his kicks surfing, studying theology, hiking, and rooting for the SF Giants.
Karen Liu: Operations Director
Karen spent most of her childhood in Silicon Valley. She attended the University of California at San Diego, where she received a B.S. in Management Science. She returned to San Jose after graduation, and worked in the tech industry before joining the team at Garden City Church.
She enjoys dancing, exploring coffee shops, and blogging at Substance Over Shadows.
Evelyn Stringer: Kids’ Director/Deacon
Evelyn was born and raised in Uganda, East Africa. At the age of 12, she was adopted by her aunt in San Diego after losing both her parents to AIDS. Jesus got a hold of her life shortly after that at the age of 14; she has walked with Him since.
She holds a B.S. in Administration of Justice from San Diego State University and an M.S. in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine.
She relocated to San Jose after marrying her best friend, John, in November 2012.
I’m not familiar with Zack Eswine. The first I’ve heard of him was ten minutes ago, while watching the video below about a book he just wrote. The video was so powerful I immediately ordered the book and wrote this blog post. Watch the video.
In March Crossway will publish Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church, a book I co-wrote with my friend, Stephen Um (foreword by Tim Keller). I’ll be talking more about the book over the coming weeks, but for now you can read the endorsements (below) and pre-order Why Cities Matter from Amazon (for 48% off!!!).
“The Bible is the story of a journey from a garden to a city. In the middle of it, it’s the story of the journey of the gospel from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Rome, transforming them both. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard helpfully trace the journey, and prophetically show how it’s possible to be part of the story.”
-John Ortberg, author; speaker; Senior Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, California
“As cities go, so goes the world. We don’t just need more Christians in cities, we need better Christians who love where they live. This book shows the importance of cities and faithful city dwellers for the advancement of the gospel in the 21st century.”
-Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission
“One can’t effectively plant or pastor a church in an urban context without first developing a theology of cities. This book will be an essential guide to discerning leaders who know that cities matter and want to engage those cities well.”
-Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom
“Recent years have witnessed a torrent of books on urbanization and on urban ministry. Many of these are specialist sociological studies; others are ‘how to’ manuals so comprehensive that the Spirit of God could walk out and we’d never miss him. What has been lacking is a short, reasonably comprehensive, impassioned, and simply written survey of the trends and issues, combined with unwavering commitment to the eternal gospel and a transparent love for the city. Whether or not you agree with all its details, this book supplies what has been lacking. Written by two younger pastors on opposite sides of the country who share their devotion to Christ and their years of fruitful ministry, this book is neither sociology nor manual (though it has some features of both), but a clarion call to Christians to look at cities with fresh eyes and cry, ‘Give me this mountain!’”
-D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
-Mark Reynolds, Associate Director, Redeemer City to City
“Given the fact that more and more people are moving back to cities instead of away from them, a lot of books are being published on how the 21st century church can reach the urban centers of the world. My friends Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um contribute to this necessary and strategic conversation by writing a book on why it’s important to focus on cities. In the face of solid research that proves how culture-shaping cities are, Stephen and Justin call for missionary-mindedness—grounding that call, not in law-laden guilt, but in the radical done-ness of the Gospel.”
-Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; author, Jesus + Nothing = Everything
“If you care about your city, the gospel, and the future of Christianity, I highly recommend you read this insightful book by Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um. This book should be required text for anyone doing ministry in today’s world.”
-Stew Stewart, Founder and Director, Verge Network; Pastor of Strategic Innovation, Austin Stone Community Church
“Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard have done the church a great service in providing a clear and compelling argument not only for the importance of cities in our times, but more especially why cities matter to the church. They do a terrific job in teasing out a rich biblical theology of cities that roots their cultural analysis in a thoughtful and faithful framework. After reading the book, I wanted to call a real estate agent and tell them to find me a place in the city. It is not only where the ‘cultural action’ is today, but also where there is such a desperate need for thoughtful, faithful, and vibrant ministry. Um and Buzzard show us that cities are not to be shunned but loved with the full breath of the Gospel. You will not be able to think about cities in the same old ways after reading this book.”
-Richard Lints, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
“It’s only a matter of time. If you’re a true follower of Jesus, very soon you will be a happy urbanite in a city called New Jerusalem. This book is a call to get a jumpstart on that civic future now, as we labor to secure an eternal city for others. We need Christians wherever there are people—rural, urban, and suburban—but urbanization is happening so quickly worldwide that the church is in need of a special summons to the cities. These two pastors from Boston and the Bay helped renew my sense of call to the Twin Cities, and likely will do the same for you in your locale—or be the catalyst for some new civic venture God is moving you toward in our increasingly urban world.”
-David Mathis, executive editor, desiringGod.org; elder, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Twin Cities, Minnesota
“You don’t need to live in a city to read this book. You don’t even need to love the city to read this book. But you do need to know God loves the city, so the church should, too. Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard don’t shy away from the problems of the city as they offer a hopeful and compelling agenda for the church in our urban future.”
-Collin Hansen, editorial director, The Gospel Coalition; co-author, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir
“Why Cities Matter drips with passion, not for cities primarily, but for the gospel and its spread in this world. Teeming with people, cities are strategic contexts for gospel-living and gospel-spreading. While urban church planting is a growing trend in many quarters of American evangelicalism today, the influx of people to major cities is growing even faster. Through this book, urban pastors will be steeled and reinvigorated in their calling, many future church planters will make a run for a city, and some suburban churches (like mine, I hope) will take their next church plant downtown. But this book is not just for current city-lovers and future urban church planters—neither is it just for pastors. Whatever your present or future context, this book will challenge you to think more strategically about your dwelling, vocation, and church for the cause of Christ in this world.”
-Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Council Member, The Gospel Coalition
It was a fun process coming up with the book cover for Date Your Wife. The folks at Crossway were great to work with. I thought it would be fun to post the covers that never made it. Some of these were good (one of these I really liked), some were not so good. The renaissance Spanish guy in the feathered hat? I had the same reaction. I have no idea where that came from.
Here’s a 1:15 minute glimpse of the vision of Garden City Church, which is now 15 months old.
Join us this Sunday at 4pm.
About a month ago I created a list of “Team Commandments,” a list of eight principles that set the culture of how the staff team at Garden City Church operates. Whether you lead a church, a business, or something else, I think it’s helpful to create something like this for your team. Our Team Commandments are listed below, and here is a pdf: TeamCommandments.
TEAM COMMANDMENTS || GARDEN CITY CHURCH
How our team leads our church in making disciples to impact the city for Jesus
1 LEAD YOURSELF
Everything rises and falls on leadership, so the biggest opportunity and problem in what you lead will always be yourself. Your leadership flows out of your relationship with Jesus, so your top priority is enjoying a strong walk with Jesus and keeping yourself healthy, joyful, excited, soaked in the Word and prayer. In a city that never stops, you must completely rest from your work sundown Friday-sundown Saturday. Send any last team communication by 4pm Friday, then shut down your computer and start relaxing. We are a results-based work environment, so we don’t care how many hours you work or where you work, but you must Sabbath weekly. This will keep you working from your identity, not for an identity.
2 LIVE A SUPERNATURAL LIFE
Don’t settle for a ministry limited to your resources and abilities. Push into the seemingly impossible and ask God to show up. We want leaders with God-sized visions that keep them up at night. You are expected to dream big, pray big, play big—to cause a ruckus in our city and lead others to do the same.
3 CLARIFY THE WIN
Get clear on the vision and purpose for all ministry environments and events. Remember, good leadership involves 4 steps: Awareness -> Vision -> Strategy -> Courage.
4 TINKER CONSTANTLY
Face reality, get feedback, be teachable, repent, turn critics into coaches. Fail fast and turn it into a win. Listen to our city of 2 million people who don’t know Jesus yet. Devour content that sharpens you. Chase good ideas. Hold fast to our mission, values, and “simple” culture, but change and invent everything else. Solve problems and lead.
5 STAY FOCUSED & SPREAD OWNERSHIP
Stay focused on how you can make the greatest impact as a leader. Say “no” to many things so you can say “yes” to the best things. Pour your energy into your strengths and strategic initiatives. Everything you do is ultimately about making disciples—knowing, loving, training, and sending leaders who feel ownership to make an impact in our church and city. Constantly hand off ministry and give people lanes to run in that fit their strengths. Adults learn best on a “need-to-know” basis, so make handoffs and trust that the best training happens on the job. Look for leaders who are humble, hungry, and smart. Over-communicate encouragement. Frequently tell people what they’re good at.
6 COMMUNICATE STRATEGICALLY
You cannot not communicate; every behavior is a form of communication. Our city is drowning in information overload, so figure out how to communicate for maximum impact. Clarity wins.
7 RUN TO THE TENSION
Conflict is normal. Deal with tension and problems directly and promptly. Promptly go straight to the source and lead others to do the same. Trust is the oil that makes relationships work and navigating conflict with direct communication, honesty, humility, and vulnerability will grow trust.
8 HAVE FUN
Take God seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Make life and leadership as fun as you possibly can. More fun = more impact and less burnout.
We created a simple Bible reading plan for 2013 for Garden City Church that you might enjoy. Below is the email I sent our church today explaining the plan.
*Update, Here is the download link: Bible Reading Plan 2013
Happy New Year!
At the start of this new year I want to encourage all of us to have a plan for regularly reading, meditating on, and obeying God’s Word. Attached is a simple Bible reading plan* we’ve put together for the church that I’ll be following this year and that I recommend to all of you. This plan allows you to select from 3 different reading tracts:
1) New Testament only (1 chapter a day, 5 days a week)
2) Old Testament only (3 chapters a day, 6 days a week)
3) A combination of tract 1 & 2
As you read the Bible this year, ask yourself two questions: 1) What is God saying to me? 2) What am I going to do about it? We want to be a church that listens to God and acts on what he says.
I’m looking forward to worshiping with all of you this Sunday, the first Sunday of the new year! Take advantage of the month of January–this is a great time of year to invite people to come and visit your church.
*Note: Weeks on the Bible reading plan begin on Sundays. Today is Tuesday. You may combine Sunday-Tuesday of Week 1 to start this week.
According to research by Men’s Health magazine (this magazine does research on cities?), San Jose is the most diverse city in America. Here is how they conducted their research:
…we looked at the percentage of foreign-born residents as well as people who speak a language other than English at home (American Community Survey). Then we checked data on nonwhite residents (U.S. Census). Finally we tallied different religious denominations (Association of Religion Data Archives and Social Explorer Religion/InfoGroup).
1. San Jose, CA
2. Jersey City, NJ
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Honolulu, HI
5. New York, NY
6. Los Angeles, CA
7. Anaheim, CA
Click here for the full list.