“Through the Eyes of A Lion” Series Resources

Last month I preached a sermon series at Fresh Life based on four themes pulled from my book “Through the Eyes of a Lion.” (Check it out here!) I’m so excited to announce that we’ve packaged EVERYTHING we created to make this series happen and are giving it away for churches anywhere to use!

This series guide is intended to help people see that you can face impossible pain and find incredible power. It encompasses everything you need to have your own “Through the Eyes of a Lion” series at your church. It’s designed to be accompanied by the book which can be read and discussed in smaller groups or offered as an optional resource to those attending the series to read at their own pace.

Whether you have me come speak at your church for a month through the videos, or use my notes and preach it yourself, I am praying that many people will find hope and salvation through this campaign. This series is for anyone who is hurting – whether grieving, recently divorced, newly laid off, etc. It’s also for everyone else – because we all need to train for the trial we’re not yet in. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

To receive the guide, click here and submit your email. You’ll then be emailed a link to download the following:

-Video files of each teaching
-Word for word transcripts of each teaching
-Discussion videos
-Discussion questions
-My sermon notes for each teaching
-Web Slides
-Media package
-Social media images
-Kids ministry curriculum and craft ideas
-Image of the giveaways we gave to our church from each message and links to purchase them
-Set lists
-List and recipes for lion-themed drinks to serve at a cafe
-Videos played as part of worship
-Promotional video
-Digital files to download for printing invites and social media e-vites

If you use this series at your church or in a small group, I’d love to hear from you and people in your church of how God uses it. Share your “Roar Stories” here and remember to use the hashtag #eyesofalion when posting on social media!

My visit to Elevation Church

With the exception of vacation, It is an unusual thing for me to have a weekend off. If I am not preaching at my favorite church in the universe, this awesome place called freshlife, I am usually in the pulpit somewhere else. This past week was one of those rare occasions where I found myself out of town but free from any speaking engagements on Sunday morning. So what did I do? I went to church! I know, I am kind of a junkie, but there is never a good reason to miss gathering together with God’s people to worship Him–wherever you are. And it is always eye-opening to see what God is up to in other churches.

Since we were in Charlotte, North Carolina, my wife and I were looking forward to visiting Elevation Church, which is pastored by Steven Furtick. This explosive move of God began five years ago and in that time they have grown to over 9,000 people meeting at 4 campuses. I have been blessed following this extraordinary ministry through the internet the last few years. It is one of the 5 or 6 podcasts I listen to almost every week.

As a church, we have learned much from Elevation. Back when we were gearing up to launch the Whitefish campus, we sent some members of our team out to Charlotte to learn from Pastor Steven’s team. I knew that the team I sent would witness cutting edge tech and get a vision for excellence across a multi-campus ministry. What I didn’t know was that they would come back different and that the experience would drastically change our church. The concept of honor is one of the key values to Elevation church. They honor those above them, those beside them and those under them. It is infectious. Since that visit, an epidemic of honor has swept through our culture and has changed us for the better.

Experiencing the church in person was awesome. Even better than I expected. The work that God is doing there is powerful, and they do absolutely everything with excellence and on purpose. Their facilities and use of media are killer–state of the art and LOUD (it’s the only other church besides freshlife I know of that offers ear plugs at the door.) The message was outstanding. They are in a relationship series and Pastor Steven taught verse-by-verse through John 4 and showed that Christ calls us from the polluted wells of this world to the Living Water that He offers. It was powerful.

What really stood out during our trip is the way that the vision of the church has been amplified and rings out powerfully from every detail and crevice of the experience. Every single staff member or volunteer I spoke to was passionate, enthusiastic and seemed elated that they were allowed to be a part of what God was doing at the church in reaching people far from Him. It was inspiring.

Jennie and I were also very stoked to spend some time with Pastor Steven Furtick and his wife Holly while we were there. Since meeting a few months back, he has gone out of his way to invest in and encourage me. This is literally an answer to prayer. When we launched freshlife, just about all of my ministry mentors and leaders that I looked to were substantially older than me. Men like Pastor Skip Heitzig, Pastor Greg Laurie, my dad Chip Lusko and more recently Pastor James MacDonald. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am extremely thankful and grateful for the fathers in the faith that God has given me and their wisdom has both steered me through turbulent waters and kept me from pitfalls. But I have also specifically prayed for pastor friends my own age. The problem is that the megachurch-while-in-your-twenties club is not a huge one. It is an unusual mixture to have a handful of kids under five at home and a less than five year old church that has exploded.

God has answered these prayers with friendships with men like Pastor Pedro Garcia from CCk in Miami and this new one with Pastor Steven Furtick, younger pastors who I feel a kindred spirit and a common DNA with and who are charging it in a big way. I am also super passionate about “passing it forward” by intentionally making time in my schedule for another generation of church planters that God is raising up to plunder hell and populate heaven.

Check out Elevation church online here. And if you haven’t read Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick go buy it right now here. It will change your life.

High Fidelity Behind the Scenes

This is sort of my way of decompressing after finishing a 15 week-long study through the book of James at Skull Church. In this video I give the resources that were helpful to me during the series, the reason we called it high fidelity, and why I chose to go through this book at a service that is explicitly evangelistic in it’s focus.

If you are on a mobile device you can watch the movie on vimeo with this link: http://vimeo.com/m/#/12498843

Preaching Off of The iPad – UPDATE

Teaching on the iPad from Levi Lusko on Vimeo.

*update* If you are on an iPad or an iPhone here is a link to watch the vid on the vimeo mobile page. HTML-5 for eva!

Sheep Blog behind the scenes

In Psalm 23 David blogs about how great it is to be a sheep in God’s flock. I just spent the month of May combing through these 6 killer verses and here are some thoughts about the series and some resources that helped me along the way.

We also had some live sheep at both of our theatre’s for the launch weekend which made the messages come to life with the sounds and smells of livestock. And to send the message that it’s not just David that is apart of God’s flock–we are God’s sheep too–we had “sheep yourself” cutouts where people could take pictures of themselves as happy lambs before and after services. No end to the fun.

Calvary Celebration

Last night I attended an event in the Anaheim Convention Center called the Calvary Celebration. It was organized by my dad and KWVE 107.9 radio in here in SoCal as a celebration of all that God has done through Pastor Chuck Smith over the years. For the last 18 months my dad and brother have been crisscrossing the globe working on a documentary called RIPTIDE that is examining the effects and impact of the “Jesus Movement” in general and Pastor Chuck’s ministry in specific and at this event a portion of the film was shown. It was a killer night and there was a full house at the venue.

A number of Pastors who were saved during that period spoke and there was music and then Pastor Chuck gave a message looking to the future–which is key–because he isn’t just sitting around remembering the past but pressing on for what is to come because he knows Jesus is still on the move!

The best part was getting to see so many friends who I love and respect–Pedro Garcia, Skip Heitzig, Jon Courson, Mike Macintosh, and Raul Ries to name a few. (In addition to my dad and brother Daniel, who I am super proud of) There was also music by Crystal Lewis, Phil Wickham and others and it was great getting to show Phil how his song, “the time is now” brought our sheep blog vid to life!

And for more info on RIPTIDE click here, you can watch a trailer for the film there on the site–which I recommend you do because it is awesome!!

cultivating synergy between the message & the music

I mentioned in the previous post that one of the things that impresses me about Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio is their sense of cooperation and teamwork on stage. One leads worship and the other is speaking but they are on the same page, working towards the same goal and it shows. Chris genuinely is serving the message, before and after it is given, through his music. On the other side of the spectrum I have been in worship services that are like cafeteria trays, every item has it’s own little quadrant with fiercely demarcated borders keeping each item on the plate from touching or having anything to do with each other. You can almost get spiritual whiplash moving from the singing to any media that is utilized to the message because there is no cohesion or big picture things are moving towards.

I believe that there are some very practical steps you can take that will help foster synergy between the worship leader and the pastor and will help you move towards a more seamless flow in services. These are things that work for us at fresh life and every church is different and has more or less complicated needs but hopefully some of what we have learned can be helpful, however much it has to be tweaked to be implemented in your specific situation.

Of great concern, first of all, is the choice of your worship leader. A lion share of the platform time will be occupied by this individual and so you need to choose both prayerfully and carefully for the right fit. It doesn’t matter how great the message may be–if the music is bad that accounts for half of the service so choose wisely (worship leaders the same is true in reverse so u choose carefully too!) For church planters and small churches this can be really difficult because your options are limited, you might even be your own worship leader. That’s tough. In the mean time, keep it SIMPLE. Less is more. Someone who is just cutting their teeth leading worship will have an easier time handling a stripped down setup with just a 2 or 3 piece band than trying to wrangle a full stage of musicians with epic solo’s and 19 backup vocalists and a guy with a cowbell.

Once you have the right fit make sure they get the vision. How can they know if they are succeeding or failing if they don’t know your expectations? Are you frustrated that your worship leader isn’t nailing it? Do you think have any concept of what “nailing it” is to you? Have you ever gone to lunch with them and shared what you like, what you don’t, heard from them, and talked about different styles, approaches and philosophies. You might be surprised by the fact that you are both operating under different definitions of success. Maybe they have been wanting to go more rock and roll but they thought you dug the acoustic stuff. It could be that they don’t really like having dancing leprechauns and videos behind the words on the screen either, but they never thought to say anything about it. It also helps to build and foster the friendship. Spend life and time together, building inside jokes and a good relationship will only add to the dynamic and chemistry that will be evident during times of public ministry. Kevin Guido, our Creative Arts Pastor and head worship leader at Fresh Life, is one of my best friends on the planet and we have a lot of fun together, no matter what we are doing.

By far, what will help build this coherence in the service is to involve them in the sermon building process. For us, this begins months out when series ideas are being developed and brainstormed. The worship leader shouldn’t be blind-sided by what is coming down the pike but right there with you riding the wave of creativity and momentum. The next study should be inspiring them early on as you move towards it and they can be seeking God and preparing their heart as it approaches. Then each week as you gear up for the weekend (for us by Thursday) I email the outline and text and any additional thoughts on and as soon as my rough draft is done I send that out too. Sometimes there will also be a phone call or cup of coffee thrown in the mix as well if my “passion runneth over” I want him to know how the message begins, and ends, see the application and have more than enough info to craft the music around the message. This btw is why it is key that you have someone you trust and respect, and not just someone who has a great voice and can play the guitar. They need to really get it.

Every once in a while there is a special song that I will specifically request but I try to do that sparingly as it can hamper creativity if I am basically choosing the set list each week. Quite honestly, I am often blessed to find them choosing a song that I thought would fit perfectly but didn’t say anything about–those are times I give God a high-5 for having us on the same page. Other times I will be surprised by how a song I never would have thought of will really complement what God is doing in that service. (And occasionally I will feel a particular song is super appropriate for a service but we don’t want to include it in the worship per se so we will pre-roll the service with it or include it as a music bed for a video.)

This all admittedly gets more complicated when you have more than one worship leader. As of right now, we have two campuses and several different worship leaders in the mix. And so I rely on my Creative Arts Pastor to be the funnel that distributes and monitors the vision, song-selection, teams and overall implementation of what happens on the worship front in all aspects of our growing church. This limits the cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. I communicate with him and he communicates it with the others involved at Fresh Life Creative.

Like I said earlier, this is stuff that we have found helpful and if you can grab something, killer–but I’d love to hear what has worked for you at your church as well, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

creativity in the pulpit

Nucleus Behind the Scenes

Preaching off the Kindle

In the last nine months I have preached approximately one hundred and forty-four times and for all but one of them I spoke using Amazon’s Kindle DX for my message notes. The one time I didn’t was a fluke, the screen on my Kindle broke and Amazon had a new one (for free I might add) to me in 24 hours, but I actually had to speak at Skull Church using paper notes one night. I totally felt like a cave man.

I have been meaning to blog about the pros/cons of the Kindle for public speaking for a while. I regularly get emails from other communicators who have seen me using it and are wondering: whether I like it and is it hard to get used to? and which size they should get? and how to get their word docs onto it et cetera. So here goes… Continue reading…