Monday, December 29, 2008

On Vacation

So, I am on vacation! YEE HAW!! I am spending the week in Illinois, mostly at my in-laws! Today, my father-in-law and I went out to the shooting range and shot some trap. We are going to try and get us a few pheasant on Wednesday. Christmas Celebration @ bro-in-law's place tomorrow.

Basically my vacation is as follows: Sleep, Eat (mmmm...) Read, (brought 4 books), Hunt, Play with Kids!

SO, what do YOU do when you have the week off?

Monday, December 15, 2008


So, a few months ago my two children began to have this irrational and totally uncalled for fear of foxes. (Thank you Dora the Explorer and Swiper the Fox!) They didn't want to go upstairs without a body guard! (!) I tried repeatedly to explain to them that there were no foxes in the house, and that they couldn't get in anyway.

Well, those lovely persuasions didn't work, in fact, nothing did! Until one day, I got a bright idea and told them that, "Even if there were foxes in the house, Daddy was big enough and strong enough to protect them." They smiled up at me and asked me what I would do if a fox was in the house. I told them I would grab him by the tail, swing him over my head and toss him out the door. They aren't really afraid of them anymore. Not because I convinced them there fear was misplaced, I just gave them a better place to put their trust.

You know, the world is a scary place. It is full of foxes. Some of those really do have sharp teeth and rabies, but most of our foxes are worries and fears of our own design. I could tell you till I am blue in the face that you need not worry about this or that. But instead, I just want to remind you that you have a Father big enough to see you through the worst of foxes.

By the way, cool ending to this story: My son wants to be strong enough now. When we have our prayer time in the morning, he asks me to pray that he will be strong enough to toss out those foxes.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Yesterday @ our worship & celebration event @ DCC, we sang a cool song I had kinda forgot about called, "Hungry". It was a sweet reminder of Jesus' words about hungering and thirsting after righteousness. (see Matthew 5:6)

Well, it was good to sing, but later in the day I had one of those, "Wow, its real!" moments. You see, we had a cool session of Small Group Leader Training, and I came home. When I walked in the door, two different smells hit me: Some of Roseann's homemade bread, and the pot of chicken & rice soup on the stove! You have experienced what happened next: my mouth watered, my stomach rumbled, and I was sure I hadn't eaten in at least four days. (actually like 4 hours! LOL)

But the next thought knocked my socks off: "Do I really hunger and long after intimacy with God like that?" Do I feel incomplete, a desperate longing when I haven't been with Him that day? To be completely honest with you, often times my personal time with God becomes a chore to complete, not a feast to enjoy. I desperately want to be there. I want to be hungry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One Man Changes History

So, I just went to Chapel @ Countryside Christian School in Cambridge. Now, I am sitting in Denny's with a cup of coffee, and getting a little work done. Now, I am not a habitual eavesdropper, but the guy 2 tables behind me is talking very loudly and this is the point he is making:

If Bill Clinton had controlled himself in the Monica Lewinski situation, Al Gore would have won the 2000 election in a landslide, the Iraq war would never have begun, and all the lives & money spent there would have been saved. Whether you agree with that or not, what he concluded with was right on. He said, "Isn't it amazing that one man can change the face of the world's history?"

He was absolutely right about that! Isn't that what we remember every Christmas? The one man (who was also God) who was born into human history and who changed everything. What seemed like an ordinary birth, in an insignificant town, in an unlikely stable made the angels sing, the shepherds celebrate, and the wise men travel. The ordinary birth that brought an extraordinary salvation to men. Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good Stuff to Check Out

I thought I would share with you some of the best blogs/articles I have read recently, so that you can maybe check them out to:

Here I read about experimenting with leadership ideas in life for 30 days to see if they are workable and solid.

Here I read some good advice from Seth Godin on how to expect and deal with criticism of your writing.

Here and Here I began reading some Biblical advice for husbands from Perry Noble. Check back to his site for more later. (for MEN ONLY!!!!)

Here is a funny Engrish post. (Engrish is a product that was produced in a foreign country, but the translation into English was a little awkward. Beware, not all Engrish is appropriate, but this one was funny!)

This is a pretty good article/commentary on 1 Peter 3:7 concerning husbands and wives for guys. (Ladies, you can read it too!)

Oh yeah, I can't forget this post from about having half the meetings and twice the productivity. Doesn't that sound great?

Okay, just one more: this post by Carlos Whittaker (worship guy in ATL) is a great post to get your brain rolling on worship. He writes as the worship leader to a typical Sunday worshipper.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the things that have grabbed my attention lately.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Simple Christmas

A simple Christmas-- does that sound impossible? It seems nothing is simple anymore, especially during the holidays...or is it?

At DCC this December, we are going to be reminding everyone that some things, especially at Christmas, are straightforward and unchanging. Things like a baby boy who was born to save the whole world.

So, if life is complicated, and living is hectic, come be reminded of the simple Christmas story, and the profound place you have in it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back to The Root, Again

What the heck is the church supposed to be all about? Depending on who you ask, you get various answers:

- Be a holy huddle of perfect morality for people look upon with awe and wonder.
- Be a political action group to effect change through the political realm.
- Be a social club for people to hang out and chill out in an environment 'safe' from all worldly influences.

While all those things might, on occasion, serve us well, they are not the root of our calling! Jesus asked us to do one thing: Make disciples! by going into the world, baptizing people, and teachings them to follow me. (My paraphrase of Matt 28:19-20)

But we forget that sometimes. I could not have been more sad about the actions of some people who wear the name Christian just yesterday. I was chillin' at a place called "Your Place" in Hershey, PA, with a few minutes of quiet time to enjoy some stromboli (which was stinkin' awesome!) and peace and quiet. My booth happened to be next to the bar, where the regular crew of Friday night guys were sitting around chatting over their beer.

Now, being a place right next to the convention center, and with 2 'churchy' events happening there, lots of people who gladly bear the name of Christ were walking through that door. But I was sad to hear what they said as they came in the door. They looked at the door, stuck their noses in the air (some literally!! no joke!) and said, "We need a table for four, in any room except this one!" "We really don't want to be in here with them."

As I watched this go on multiple times, I couldn't help but think about the Savior whose name they wore. I thought about what he would do in that situation. Would he have gone back to the holy huddle, or hung out with the lost dudes? He told a story where he said that 1 lost sheep is worth more effort than 99 self-righteous sheep already in the pen! I wonder if Jesus would have sat down next to one of those guys and invested energy in his life?

Were those 'Christians' wrong for thinking it was poor judgment to drink stuff that impairs your thinking and judgment? NO! Were they wrong for not wanting to be drinking? NO!

Here's where they were wrong: They were wrong in acting as if they were better than those people! They were wrong in thinking they were bringing Christ glory by snubbing those people who need that Savior. They were wrong for forgetting their mission: TO MAKE DISCIPLES. How can we make disciples if we never take opportunities to invest our life in those who don't know Christ?

Well, I paid my bill, and told that hostess/bartender that not all Christians are like that, and Jesus certainly isn't. Let's be people who love and care and serve and invest life into people who need Life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ministry Guidlines

As the men and I have been examining the future direction and purpose of the church here at Denton, we recognize that moving forward we need guidelines to keep us in check. This is what we spent the majority of Monday night talking about.

We divided those guidelines into two categories: Core Beliefs and Core Values. You might picture these as lines on each side of the ministry road we are traveling. They keep us heading toward the place we want to go. Core Beliefs are theological convictions on which we cannot waver. Core Values are characteristics which are important to us as we do ministry. They are not necessarily Biblical truths, but more values that we need to have to be effective at impacting our culture for Christ.

Here I will share with you some of them we discussed Monday night, and would invite you to share anymore you might think are vital.

Core Beliefs:
1. About Jesus- His divinity, perfection, substitute sacrifice and bodily resurrection provides the only path of salvation for man.
2. About Scripture- The Bible is the inerrant message God has given to men, and is our authority for life and faith.
3. About Salvation- Salvation from sin only comes through Jesus, by His grace, through Faith, at baptism, and results in good works.
4. About God- We believe there is one God, Yahweh God of the Bible, who exists eternally in three distinct persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(BTW- Isn't is great that we have NO disagreement on these core beliefs among our core people?)

Core Values:
1. Excellence- If we are going to do something, it will be done well. No shoot-from-the-hip, half-baked programs. If we are going to do it, let's do it right.
2. Relevance- Everything we preach/teach/do will explicitly show why it matters for today. We will take the burden of relevance.
3. Integrity- Every aspect of our ministry will be 'above-board' and will show a great deal of integrity. From how we handle finances, to the morality of leadership, integrity must be a core value in how we 'do church.'
4. Cooperation- What we do will promote a spirit of togetherness and unity, not the following of a one man show.
5. Commitment- Being committed to the Lord and how this church is accomplishing her mission is another core value.

So, what are your thoughts? What questions does this stir up in you? Anything you would add? Anything you would take away? Feedback, feedback, feedback!

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of Friends,
Billy Johnson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ministry Model

You will find attached to this email (or underneath if you are reading this on the blog) an illustration that sums up what the guys and I have been talking about for the last few weeks on Monday nights. Please note that this is a draft, it is still a work in progress, but we are coming to some good conclusions. This model represents how we as a church are going to begin doing ministry. Let me explain it to you:

You will notice first of all that the very central point of the model says, “Please Jesus”. That is our deepest philosophical, theological goal. We want everything we do to please Jesus, our King. That is the center of everything we do!

The wider circle is labeled 'Make Disciples'. (red letters) We believe that the primary task we do that pleases Jesus is making disciples that follow Him. (See Matthew 28:18-20)

That circle has been divided into 3 areas. These represent the kind of disciples we want to make: People who Love God, Love People, and Serve Everywhere. (Blue Letters) Everything a disciple, a follower of Jesus is can be summed up in those 3 categories.

Beneath each of those categories is the main environment/program we plan to use to develop that aspect of discipleship. We think we can best help people connect to and express love to God through our Sunday worship services. We think we can best help people connect to and learn to love other people through a small group network. We think we can best help people connect to serving through an organized system of ministry teams.

Note that movement through the process shows growth. If someone is only coming on Sunday morning, they have some areas of growth to work on, namely, their people and service connection.

Note how simple this is! We are really only trying to do one thing: Make disciples. We are making disciples in 3 areas: Love God, Love People, Serve Everywhere! We are only asking those who choose to partner with us to do three things: Go to a together worship service, connection in a small group setting, and serve on a ministry team. (Of course, those involved in leadership would have more responsibility.) It is so simple and yet so profound.

Note that it will be through our service that outreach and compassion will be displayed in our community, which will in turn connect them to our Sunday worship service (which will be our main entry point for those outside the church) and get them involved in the process of becoming a follower (disciple) of Jesus.

This is absolutely a work in progress. We are far from finished, and even when we are finished putting it on paper, putting it into practice will be even harder. Please, give us some feedback. Ask some questions. Devote some time to prayer about this. We just want to please Jesus by making disciples!

Does all this make sense? Do you get it? Are you willing to commit to doing church this way?

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends,

Billy Johnson

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Reflections

This morning was great. I hope you all caught the thrust of my message today: To be intentionally sharing your faith with people who do not follow Christ. If you wonder about some of the details, or maybe don't understand my intentions, please know that you are always free and available to talk to me, email me, or call me with whatever questions you may have.

I am super excited about our future, and super pumped for the great things God is beginning to do in our lives, and in our church. May we continue to seek His paths, His way, and His wisdom.

Stuff I am thinking about this week:

-The schedule is normal this week (Sunday Night, Wednesday Night, Etc, etc) but changes beginning next Sunday morning.
-This is not an invitation to do nothing, but an invitation to think outside the box, and gain a perspective to guide us in a new direction.
- Next Sunday we begin a series of sermons called, “Look Out!” and I have to tell you, I am super pumped about sharing with you what God has been teaching me! If you're interested, we are going to be letting God teach us from Isaiah 58:1-12 next week.
- Change your clocks next Saturday night!
- Rumor: a brand new Denton Christian Church Praise Team will be leading us in worship with live music next Sunday!
- We talked about prayer and fasting in Sunday School today. Maybe some good 'ole New Testament prayer and fasting is what we need to be doing as we approach this brand new season of life in our church.
- Men @ My House-- Monday Nights at 6:30 PM---We are talking about core beliefs and core vales tomorrow.
- Men's Small Group Fellowship @ the McKinley's on Nov 8-- Rumor has it there is going to be a new, passionate, pumped up leader
- Ladies Small Group Fellowship-- Meeting at the Rude's house, beginning November 5. Ask Angie for details!
- I think my family is wicked cool! If you have facebook, check out the videos I posted.
- I am so stinkin' pumped for everything God is about to unleash among us!

Anyway, Happy Sunday.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends,

Billy Johnson

Friday, October 24, 2008

Look Out!

“Look Out!” I was probably 11 years old when I heard those words. I was playing left field in the Little League's “Fall Ball” league that played baseball about the time the Playoffs and World Series was happening. In fact, I had just caught my very first pop fly, and it was beautiful. (It was not that I had not had plenty of opportunities before, I just couldn't seem to make that daggone ball get in and stay in my glove!!) So there I am, happy as all get out that I had actually caught the ball, when someone yelled, “Look Out!”

When you hear those words, most of the time someone is trying to change your focus to something you have missed or overlooked. Someone wants you to see something that is coming right for you. Such as when your wife sees those brake lights ahead, while you are too engrossed in the story that you are telling, and she yells, “Look Out!!” Well, that day, what I overlooked was the fact that the 3rd baseman didn't think I could catch the ball. (In fact, that opinion was based on all the experience up to that point!) So, when the ball was popped out to the left field, instead of staying and letting me try to catch it, he begins running as hard as he can to the spot where the ball was coming down. Which happened to be the spot where I was (amazing, huh?) standing there with my first caught ball. Which happened to be the exact spot where he put his shoulder into my chest and we both went down. Yikes!

“Look Out!” is almost always an exclamation to draw our attention to something we might be overlooking. Next month, I will be preaching a series of sermons designed to draw our attention to something we might be overlooking. The series is called (surprisingly enough!) “Look Out!” and it will be all about us becoming an externally focused church. It will be all about us refocusing our attention and energy to those outside our church. It will be all about looking out!

It is no coincidence that this series is starting at the same time our first stage of restarting falls. In this first stage, we are going back to the bare minimum, and building back all our processes and programming from the ground up. In November, we are only be going to have Sunday Morning Worship Services. We are going to work on those a little bit, and try to make them as excellent as they can be. From there, as we gain a sense of who we are, and where we are going, we will build our processes and programming from a sense of mission and vision. Trust me, this is going to be an exciting time, as we rethink how we are going to 'do church'.

So, I invite you to join me on this journey in November, to “Look Out!” and see, as Jesus said, that harvest (in Denton) is ready!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Members or Partners?

Have you ever wondered how our verbiage sounds today? What kind of impression it makes? You ever wondered if the way we use words doesn't quite match up with the way others do, and we confuse people?

Take for example the term, “member”. For many, it insinuates that, “I have paid my dues/fees to a certain organization, and now I will get the benefits of the organization.” You become a member of a country club, and get to enjoy all the amenities they offer. You become a member of the YMCA and you get enjoy all the exercise equipment and the pool when you want. You become a member of a gun club, and you can go out there and shoot away at targets and such.

Do you ever wonder if our use of the word, 'member', in the church world is misleading? Sort of like saying, I have paid my dues (Baptism, Attendance, and Tithe) and now I should get my benefits (Pastoral Care, My Musical Preference, and Programs for me.) What I am getting at is that maybe our use of the word member clouds what we are really needing from people when they join with our local congregation.

Perhaps the word 'partner' is better. Partner has two immediate connotations in people's minds: 1. being a part of team and 2. working. To say someone is a partner is to call them to work with your local team to accomplish the mission we are doing. And better yet, partner can be noun and verb. Not only are you a partner of Denton Christian Church, but you partner with them. It becomes not only what you are, but what you do!

Perhaps, considering member isn't even a Biblical word, partner would serve our purposes of identification a little better. But beware, asking someone to be a partner is much more of a commitment than asking them to be a member.

What do YOU think?

Yours for the Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sorry So Long!!

My friends,

Sorry, I have not been emailing as much lately. I have been trying to get back into the groove of ministry. Getting back into the flow of sermon preparations, future planning, and all the other stuff. Sorry.

I laid out for you guys some plans and processes last week we are going to work through. To sum it up, we are going to do a church wide total make over. We are going to do everything differently. That is not to say we wont have some of the same kind of things happening, but that we are going to be doing them intentionally and on purpose to accomplish our mission in our community. But a total makeover in the church, just like in a home, is hard work.

One of the first things we must do is start completely over. What would a brand new church plant do the first Sunday they met? Only a Sunday morning service. That is what we are going to do in November. We are going to go back to the basics, and do Sunday morning, and do it well!

Then, as we plan and prepare together, we will build from there. One of the things we must do, is to have small groups meeting in homes. This is essential and vital to building relationships and community amongst ourselves. It also provides "safe" environments away from the church building that you can invite unchurched friends and family to. A lot of our first small groups will probably start from some of our current church programming. I know, for example, that some of you ladies out there are going to start getting together to continue your study. I have a feeling Spar is going to continue his study on "Letters to a Skeptic." We may start some other targeted small groups. It is in these places of intimacy and fellowship that we will find great growth and much progress.

This is what I know: Far too often, we are far too busy, doing far too mediocre a job, and accomplishing far too little. Lets get back to the basics, learn to focus on a few things, do them well, and accomplish great things for King Jesus in our community.

Remember, I love Jesus, and I love you! I know that what lies ahead is beyond all we can ask or imagine!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Small Church Lies, Pt. 1

I have been working within small church ministry for a little over 5 years, and working side by side with other preachers in small churches for that long. I have come to believe that there are many lies that the enemy plants in the minds of small churches that actually bring them down! John 8 tells us that our Enemy is the father of lies, so we ought to carefully examine all of our mindsets and mentalities to be sure they are of the right father! Here are some I have seen most prevalent:

#1 "We should stay small in order to have good fellowship and community!"

Jesus did not call the church to stay small! He spoke of it sometimes beginning small (like a mustard seed) and then growing (like to be the biggest of all plants). Growing churches can have close fellowship and community too, they just have to work harder at it. With larger churches, they have to do small groups. With smaller churches, every group is small! (That was kinda supposed to be funny, feel free to laugh!) Yes, community is essential to the life of the Christ follower, but no, you don't have to be a small church to accomplish it!

When I was in Illinois, I met with a couple who was looking to transfer their membership, possibly to the church at Ferris. They had checked out another church, but told me that they couldn't possibly go there because it was just too big. So they thought they might try Ferris. I told them that they could come if they wanted, but that the church at Ferris was growing, and didn't plan on stopping anytime soon! (They came for a while, but decided not to stick around!)

Don't believe the lie that in a bigger church you cannot have close relationships with people. You just can't have them with everyone!

May we be a people that embrace Christ's call to expand and build His kingdom in our community, and not fear the changes that come with growth!


Monday, September 22, 2008


What is so special about the number 4,845? That is the number of lots up for development in Denton! If all of those lots are finished and occupied we could see the population of Denton quadrupled in the next 17 years. This would make Denton give Denton the most aggressive growth rate in the state!

Now, there is a bit of debate among local politicians on whether or not we should slow down this aggressive growth rate. Please know this: I am not arguing either way. But we, as a community of Christ-followers, need to be ready for a changing atmosphere of ministry. Out community is changing right before our eyes, and we must be ready to take the message of Jesus to them all.

Some of you are reading this and wondering why I am even writing about this. Think about it this way: what has been typical and normal for Denton and Caroline County may not be typical in ten to fifteen years. Most of the people will be new transplants, likely many transplants from the Baltimore-Washington-Annapolis craziness and many retirees in age-restricted housing.

My point is this: we must be aware of who is here, and what is going on around us so that we can effectively communicate the gospel in our steady-changing community.

Billy da Kid

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cleaning Up!

When I took on the Denton Project with ECEF, they gave me 30 days from the time I showed up to the time I actually started to settle my house and family, and to go around and visit some of the supporting churches. My wife's definition of settling the house is making me vacuum. :)

While I was vacuuming today, I actually began to enjoy myself. It began to be fun to see that little red dirt sensor light turn green, and know that another dust bunny was no more! And the carpet looks so much better with fresh vacuum lines, so I began to vacuum my way out of rooms, so my feet didn't mess up the lines!!

Our lives can be like that, you know. We have a lot of junk that needs to be cleaned up. Our problem is that we just don't know how to do it, or know that it is a lot of work. But the results are amazing!

So, I say with Paul, "Let us lay aside the encumbrances and sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus."

Billy da Kid

DISCLAIMER: Actually, I wanted to vacuum because my wife got this sweet new vacuum on Saturday! Sears two day sale= 1/2 off= Happy Roseann!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Goals and Strategies for Year 1!

So, I just had a sweet meeting with the ECEF guidance team! We talked business, of course. (YUCK!) But then I got to present some of the strategies and goals we are going to be using at Denton throughout the next year. (SWEET!!) I told them what we are going to try and accomplish, and goal dates to accomplish them. So here they are: (drum roll please):


  • Develop, Communicate and Implement (DCI) Statement of Purpose

  • DCI Mission Statement

  • DCI Vision Statement

  • DCI Core Values, Core Beliefs

  • DCI Purposeful Name

  • DCI Strategic, Purposeful Programming

  • DCI Assimilation Process (from 1st time visitor to regular attender)

  • DCI Discipleship Process (from regular attender to fully devoted Christ follower)

  • DCI Ministry Involvement Process (getting followers into service)

  • DCI Compassion and Outreach Strategy

  • DCI Marketing Strategy

  • DCI Launch Day Strategy


  • Launch Day- October 4, 2009

  • Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values, Beliefs and Name In Place by November 30

  • Programming Reformatted to Match Above by December 31

  • Assimilation, Discipleship and Ministry Involvement Processes In Place by January 31

  • Compassion, Outreach, Marketing, and Launch Day Strategy In Place by March 31

  • 10 % Growth per month prior to Launch Day (Starting with 35)

I will try to explain all our terms, and get you familiar with what I mean by all of it on the evening of Sept 28. SO BE THERE!!!!

We are in for a wild adventure serving Jesus and this community! Hang on to your seats!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Going Home?

Well, it is Sunday afternoon. I am chilling on the love seat, thinking about tonight. This morning I enjoyed worshiping with the Christ-followers at the Lewes Church of Christ. I connected with some awesome friends afterward, who of course we HAD to eat with. (no wonder we always connect fellowship with food!!) Tonight, I am preaching at Severn. I am so excited about it because of this story:

It actually happened at the same church many years ago. Back then it was at a different location, and called the First Christian Church of Glen Burnie. It was an evening worship service on April 23, 1995. For whatever reason, the Sr. Minister wasn't preaching, but one of the elders was. I don't remember what his sermon was about, but I do remember knowing that I ought to make a decision to follow Jesus. So I talked to my dad, and we talked to the preacher. Then I went and told everyone that I believed and trusted Jesus, and was baptized into Christ. And I get to preach there tonight.

Its kinda like going home. Awesome.

Yours for the Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends,
Billy Johnson

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Strategy Planning

Hey Friends!

I wanted to give you an idea of where the process is. So, here is the working plan for the next couple of weeks:

Next week I am going to be at an ECEF meeting. At that meeting I am going to present to the ECEF men a general strategy and plan for year 1 of the Denton Project. They will work with me to help correct and tweak any issues there might be with the strategy. When all the corrections and advising is through, I will have a working strategy to guide help guide us. This won't be all the details, but a general overview of the goals and direction we will be heading in Year 1. You (the Denton crew) and I will work through the details and do all that together later!

Once we have an approved and affirmed strategy, we will be ready for me to start at Denton on September 28. (DONT FORGET VICTORY DAY ON THE 27th AT 5:30 PM)

On September 28, I would like to take the evening time to share the strategy with you all, so we can begin working together and fillling in the blanks as to how we are going to get where we want to go. No, not all questions are going to get answered at that meeting, because we are going to work through all of this together over the next few months. But that night, we are going to make sure most of the questions that we want to get answered are asked! It will be an awesome night of dreaming and planning. Plan to be there. (with bells on!)

Brothers and Sisters, God has been writing a grand story of redemption since the beginning of time. He began the story with people He loved, who sinned and needed a Savior. So, He began a plan to bring that Savior into the world, and did so through the Jewish people. That Savior, Jesus, through his death and resurrection, began a new kind of kingdom that would be the focus of this 2nd to last act in His great story. That kingdom was to hijack the culture around them and bring the salt and light of Jesus into a world of darkness. We are a part of that story. It is so grand, it is humbling, and so personal and local, that it should be motivating. We, here at Denton, are vital players in God's epic story of redemption, and we have a vital role to play. When we do, the world around us will never be the same!

Yours for the Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends,


Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Denton Project

Hey Friends!

What are we going to do? I have got that question a few times over the last few days, and I hope I didn't seem like a mindless idiot when I really didn't give you an answer. I am developing plans and intentions for this project, but didn't want to commit to anything before I knew it was going to happen. Let me explain some of my thought processes so that you can understand how I am thinking.

ECEF's Denton Project is a restart project. We are going to totally revamp and restart the ministry of the church in Denton. This will mean building a vision and mission for the church, and building our programming and events to facilitate our mission and accomplish our vision. This means that some things may change over the next couple of months:

- Our name may change. We may want to reflect our vision/mission in the most visible aspect of us.
- Some old programs may stop and new ones begin. We are going to build our programs from our mission/vision, not our mission/vision from our programs.
- Some things we currently do may be put on hold to focus on more important aspects of our ministry so that they can be done to the best of our ability.

But I am not going to make these decisions on my own. I want all of you to be a part of this process. So please be ready to contribute to the discussion and open-minded about how to proceed forward in faith!

When all is said and done, we will be a church who is serving Jesus, loving others, and growing in numbers and discipleship! Join me on this journey!

Yours for the Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends,
Billy Johnson

Friday, September 5, 2008

Random Stuff

Hey Friends!

Sorry it's been so long! What a week. A week ago I rolled into Maryland. This time, not to visit for a week, but to stick around! Since then I have unloaded and unpacked and shuffled and moved stuff all around this house. Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and help. Spar and MB~ The lasagna was, in a word, FANTASTIC! Our plans are to see you all tonight!

So, I have been rolling around some questions (more specific than the big four I shared a while ago) that I want you to think on a little bit.

- Why do we do what we do? From general to specific. (ex- Why do we have a church in Denton and why do we serve a meal on Wednesday nights?)

-What are we doing that we should stop doing?

-What are we not doing that we should begin doing?

- Who (on the shore or not) is doing something we can learn from?

I would love to hear some of your thoughts on these questions.


- I preached at Smyrna and Georgetown Sunday, and I have to tell you, the entire shore seems pumped and excited about what is about to happen at Denton! I hope you all are as excited as I and everyone else am!!!

- My son has adopted a stuffed monkey as his new favorite toy! (what? I did title this randomness!)

-Comcast is supposed to bring me internet this afternoon, so I can stop mooching off my neighbors! (thanks Lisa!!)

-I met some of my neighbors last night.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moving Day

So it is 9 PM, and my house is empty. All my "stuff" is in the Penske truck outside waiting to be driven a thousand miles to a new "stuff" keeping place. My real treasures left this morning before we threw a loading party (think positive, think positive) and are getting ready to leave from St. Joe in the morning.

We are looking forward to the future. God is going to do great things in Denton. As we serve Jesus together, as we touch our community with His love, and as we grasp His vision for His church, we are going to see things happen we may have never seen before. So, hang on Denton, big things are coming. Just let me unload my stuff first.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

God's Power

I have been studying from Acts 2 lately, and preached there this morning. One of the things I talked about was how the church was born with power.

Why don't we see the power of God anymore? This question has eaten at my soul for almost four years! I still remember when one of my professors asked us that in class. I have read through the book of Acts and have seen that people were attracted to the church because the church was full of boldness and power. Why don't we see it anymore?

This is the best answer I can come up with: Perhaps it is because we don't need God's power! Everything we try to do, every program we run, every idea we develop, WE can do in our own strength and wisdom and power! We don't need God's power to accomplish the things we are trying to do. We are strong enough on our own!

We need to dream bigger! We need to set goals higher! We need to set out to do things that can only happen if God's power is flowing through it!

Denton, hold on to your seats! We are not only going to to Dare to Dream big, we are going to dream HUGE! And we are going to try and do things that will most certainly fall on their face if God is not a part of it! But we know that we serve a God with whom "all things are possible" and who can "do more than we can even ask or imagine!" So, get ready for an adventure of faith, as we seek God's power and prescence to accomplish God's mission in our community!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Priests 3

So my last question about priests is, "Who are the main benefactors of their service?" If you check out most churches today, most of the "service" and "ministry" is for the benefit of the people in the church. The ones who already have access to God! WAKE UP CALL!!!!! Priests serve as bridge builders between God and those who don't Him! Those outside the church! And if we are going to be true to our calling and our mission, we must be sure that we are looking beyond our four walls. (BTW- I loved hearing about the cheapest yard sale in town all my Denton crew was doing! SWEET!) We must be seeking, taking and investing in opportunities to serve our community with the intention of introducing them to the God we love and serve! May it be said of us, "The church has left the building!"

Let's get out there and be priests!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Priests Part 2

What does a priest do? He/she serves men as a bridge-builder, gap-filler. Priests have access to God, and others don't, so priests stand in the gap, and provide a bridge to God. The priests of the old days were the ones who would take a family's sacrifices, and would present them in their stead. He provided a way to approach God. Priest of this day do much the same thing. Christ-followers are responsible for building the bridge between God and men, and showing those who don't have access to God, how to know Him. Being a priest has nothing to do with self, and everything to do with God and others.

Check out some of the sacrifices that priests of the new order offer. They don't offer bodies of bulls and goats anymore, but their own bodies. (Romans 12:1) They also offer the sacrifice of praise. (Hebrews 13:15- here's a kick me in the face question: is my praise a sacrifice, or do I just offer it in comfortable situations?) Christ-following priests offer up good deeds and sharing with others (biblical, not kindergarten, sharing) as sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:16) Paul, an old priest of the new order, said that the Gentiles he was converting to Christ were sacrifices offered to God. (Romans 15:16) Did you notice that all the sacrifices have got nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God and others!

My motto for the day: "It's not about me! It's not about me! It's not about me!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Priests Part 1

Okay, time to talk about priests. We need to answer three questions about priests. The first is, "What makes a person a priest?" The second is, "What does a priest do?" We will deal with the third one later.

What makes a person a priest? Being a priest means we have access to God. In other words, we are allowed to approach Him and know Him. Remember that in the old days, only priests could enter the tabernacle. And only the high priest could enter into the most holy place where God Himself dwelt at the ark of the covenant. A priest is one who has access to God.

Now this is wicked cool- all Christ-followers have access to God! Paul (or whoever wrote it) tells us in Hebrews that we can "approach [God's] throne of grace with confidence." If you need a visual aid for this spiritual reality, imagine approaching the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant and God's shekinah glory filling the room, and speaking "face to face" with Him as Moses did. God has given us this access to Himself, to His grace, to His power!

This COULD lead to a little arrogance. "Humph! I have access to God, I am better than others!" But our attitude should be that of humility and thanksgiving. After all, it was only by the undeserved and unearned grace of the High Priest, Jesus, that we became priests and were given this privilege. And, to top it all off, being a priest is all about serving anyway. But we will deal with that tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Billy's Thoughts 8-19-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Let me share with you the Big Four. These are the big four questions of vision and mission that we MUST answer and live out in order to be effective in our community. As I come to Denton, know that I will be asking these questions over and over and over again. You will get tired of hearing, but hopefully we will all get to a place where we know and are sold out to the answers. Here they are:

1. Who are we as a church? (Identity)
2. Why are we here? (Mission)
3. Where are we going? (Vision)
4. How are we going to get there? (Boundaries)

We are going to take a lot of time answering these questions. Chew on them for a while. Post 'em above your computer. Tape them to your dashboard. Write them in lipstick on your bathroom mirror. (Ok, maybe not!) Gotta run. Blessings!

(disclaimer: I think I read about these questions in "Church Planting From the Ground Up")

Billy's Thoughts 8-14-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I was inside. Why? I was at the nursing home. Two aged saints, husband and wife, were there, and I had the privilege of sharing the Lord's Supper with them that afternoon. As we visited that afternoon, the wife shared with me something I will never forget. She said, "We are proud that all of our children and grandchildren are Christians and they live like it."(They have 4 children, 8 or 10 grandchildren, and 5 or 6 great grands.) As I left, I shed a few tears, as I again realized that that should be more important to me than anything. For my children to know the Lord. Multi-generational faithfulness is a common goal among Christ-followers, but is not often accomplished. Some of that has to be attributed to our children making their own choices. They are blessed and cursed with free will. Some of it is us not being able to see the long term, realizing that many who step away may not have completely fallen away. This e-mail is not meant to criticize or belittle any parents who have struggled with this very issue. This email is to share with you something that I hope we can figure out together and accomplish together, for my children and yours.

SCRIPTURE- Check out the first few verses of Deuteronomy 6 for some thoughts on this.

Billy's Thoughts 7-30-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

So, I have my mind on camp. I share the responsibility of deaning a 'herd' of 5th and 6th graders with a friend. We are in camp next week, and are making all the final plans. I believe there are 51 students signed up, which is a little smaller group than normal. But we are excited! We are going to be challenging them to ask the question, "Who's Your Idol?" It is kind of a spin off of the American Idol theme. We know for sure that only 19 of them have been baptized into Christ. Though we don't push 10 and 11 year olds too much, it is our prayer that if any of them are ready to make a decision to put Christ as number one in their life, that they would! Pray for that with me.
So what is your best camp experience? Here's mine: It was at family camp at Delmarva, almost 10 years ago. My family couldn't make it, but I was there. Sorry, but my most memorable moment was not one of the sermons or teaching sessions, but was a private conversation I had with a fella named Phil. Phil asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. (being 14, I figured I was grown up. ha!) I gave him the answer I gave to all the 'church people' I knew. I told him I might be a youth minster. I didn't really believe that, but it kinda made me look spiritual, and that was the look I was going for at the moment. Phil looked at me and said something I will never forget. "Billy, you might do that for a while, but you are going to be a preacher, because we need guys like you to be preachers!" In that moment something changed, and I was a preacher. I have never looked back. Moral of the story: Take opportunities to encourage young people to pursue God and ministry. You never know who it is going to effect.

Billy's Thoughts 7-24-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Roseann and I met in some odd circumstances. I was a brand new freshman at college, and she was a first year senior. (She went five years because she got a double major! BRAINIAC!?!?!) The first weekend there, the school (Central Christian College of the Bible, CCCB) sponsored a student retreat for all us students. As chance may have it(I prefer to say "As God directed it") we rode on the same van to the student retreat. Here's the thing though: Roseann was not feeling well (actually she was sicker than a dog!!) and was just plain miserable. She doesn't even remember meeting me. Needless to say, there were no "sparks" or "love at first sight" between us. But really, love isnt about sight anyway. Today I still kid her about that trip. But it illustrates the point that love is more than some random emotional reaction (?caused by cupid's arrow?) that you have no control over. Love is a dedicated commitment to do what is best for someone else. Jesus showed ultimate love when He went to the cross on our behalf, but I bet He didn't have warm fuzzies or butterflies in His stomach. Love is all about doing what is best for someone else, and has nothing to do with emotion. (YIKES! I am about to start preaching, and this was just supposed to be a story.) How ya loving today?

Billy's Thoughts 7-22-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Morning, Friends!
I thought I might start send you emails often to keep you updated on what we are up to, and to start lettting you get to know us a little more. Let me give you a few background details on our family. My first wife (and only wife) Roseann and I got married May 29, 2004 in St. Joseph, IL! It was great until I smashed the cake in my wife's face, and my new mother-in-law had a heart attack and fainted. (A little exaggeration there.) That means we have been married for 50 months, and Roseann has been pregnant for over half of them. One thing you will soon learn about us is that we love children! (I like to tell people that we take that whole "Be fruitful and multiply" thing seriously!) We have three beautiful children: Victoria (April 18, 2005), Will (August 30, 2006) and Elizabeth (June 24, 2008). Psalm 127 tells us that children are a reward from the Lord, and I tell you, I dont deserve it, but God has been abundantly rewarding us. Okay, that is probably enough info for today!

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