Skull Church Canada

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Next week we’re kicking off a Skull Church tour through¬†Canada for the first time ever! I’ve never been to Canada, so it’s two-fold excitement for me. We’ll be bringing the ultimate message of hope throughout Alberta to¬†Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. If you live in or anywhere near these places don’t miss these events! Time and venue details are listed here.

If you’re passionate about the message of Skull Church and are a leader in a local church or organization, help promote in your area by filling out this form. If you want to rock the tour on your social media microphone, check out our promotions page for social media art.

 


happy birthday fresh life!!

Today it has been five years since fresh life began! If there is one word that encapsulated that day it would be the number 14. It was Sunday, January 14th, the temperature was 14 degrees outside and there were 14 people that came to our first service. It is very special now to look back on the small beginnings of the great things we have seen God do. We have put together a very special film to preserve our history called, The Fresh Life Story. (If you haven’t seen the trailer check out this post!)

It will be played this weekend at all fresh life campuses and online experiences so make sure to catch one of them if you can. I can’t think of any project that has been more difficult and exciting than trying to encapsulate what we have seen God do in these 5 years in Montana in this documentary. I pray God uses it in big ways! If you can’t make it to a fresh life campus or webcast this weekend we will be making it available for purchase in the coming days so stay tuned.

As a fresh life birthday celebration warmup, I thought I’d prime the party with a little video I shot for my blog, with my phone, explaining how and where I made the decision to move to Montana. In case any of you are reading this post during a layover or are killing time with nothing to do…let me just tell you this, God can move in a life and in this world cataclysmically through an hour in an airport. I marvel now when I think back to how much God has accomplished as a result of this hugely pivotal moment that seemed arbitrary at the time.


This weekend’s party

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We just finished the first ever, out-of-town skull church event. It was two hours away in Missoula, Montana. Zoo-Town, as it is called, is a college city and has a bigger population than the greater Kalispell area. We have had a heart to come here and preach the gospel for years and I am so thankful that God has given us the opportunity.

This whole thing was a step out in faith for us. We have never done ministry here, my radio show isn’t on the air, and even though we have seen God do amazing things through skull church at home and online, we have never tried to take it on the road. I don’t have a problem telling you that it was a little scary. Would anyone come?

The venue was way rad. A super vibey old-school theatre. (we tend to be drawn to the phantom of the opera type of rock and roll clubs to do church in.) When our setup teams arrived the cleaning crew hadn’t yet arrived to mop up from the previous show and it was gnarly. Their was still the smell of freshly smoked pot in the air and a mixture of vomit and spilled alcohol on the floor. What better place could there be to preach the gospel?

Missoula is a city that needs the gospel. It has the feel and worldview of what you would find in any university town. Pastors that partnered with us in this outreach told me that it is a very unchurched city with very low numbers of the people attending any place of worship at all. We definitely encountered some very vocal and hostile opposition as we sought to shine the light of Christ but we also found many to be very open and interested as well.

Each night we had great crowds. We didn’t know what to expect and were blown away as hundreds poured in. In addition to those there in person we had several thousand joining in on the live webcast from all over the country and other parts of the world. Best of all, by the time the weekend ended we saw eighty-nine people make professions of faith in Christ!

I am overcome by God’s goodness for letting us be ambassadors of the gospel. I am thankful to freshlife for being a church that cares about the lost in other places. And I am blown away by the mighty men and women of my team that not only fought a giant this weekend–they ran to the battle.

Here is a lookbook to give you a feel of what we saw God do.

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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.


California Freezing

I am in the middle of a wild storm at a retreat in the mountains of California. Chains were just made mandatory on the winding road up here. The winds are gusting so much that while I was preaching tonight the power cut out four times and once a mighty, rushing wind blew open some of the windows in the auditorium. (Fortunately it was at an intense spot in my message and I was able to play it off like it was just the Holy Spirit.) I can’t help but find it ironic that I flew on two airplanes from Montana only to freeze in a storm in Southern California. And of course I left all my warm clothes at home and only brought a light jacket! doht.

Weather complaints aside, tonight it was a huge honor to speak to a group of high school students on a winter camp. Fourteen years ago I attended a camp at a lake when God got a hold of my heart and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the thought of what God might be brewing in some of these teenager’s lives. I told them that had God told me, fourteen years ago, what He wanted to do through me, I wouldn’t have believed Him. I only knew that I needed to come to Christ. Even though I had grown up in church, I needed to be born again. I told them this and challenged them that if the Lord tarries and they would follow Him fully there is no telling the history-altering, earth-changing, kingdom-shaking things God would do through them. At the invitation we saw twenty-five respond, making public professions of faith in Christ!

I have one more session early tomorrow morning where I will be challenging them to aggressively pursue the calling God has on their lives, with vision and tenacity. The world has yet to see what God could do with a heart fully surrendered to Him! And then I will be flying back to Montana. This weekend we are in Ruth 3 in our Happily Ever After series. My message is titled, “Sleepless in Bethlehem.” And we will see Ruth propose to Boaz, in the middle of the night, on a threshing floor. It’s a great passage and it will be great for everyone, especially those who are single but moving closer to the point where marriage is hopefully in the not too distant future.


I’m coming to ABQ!

Next Saturday, October 9th, I will be emceeing and speaking at a LoveLife conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Mark Driscoll. The event is being put on by The HUB and it will cover the Song of Solomon. It is designed for anyone 16 years of age or older–whether single or married–and will be full of super practical, Biblical insight on love, sex, dating, romance and marriage.

I highly recommend this event to you, whatever stage of the romantic spectrum you find yourself in, if you live in the Southwest. I love the Song of Solomon and have found that a proper understanding and application of the principles that are in it will unlock God’s best in anyone’s love life. Unfortunately, it is often ignored. J Vernon McGee called it “the most neglected book in the Bible.” If we let it remain silent, it’s to our own hurt. You can purchase tickets here. I hope to see you there!


The Windy City

I am in Chicago hosting a weekend-long Harvest crusade at the Allstate Arena. Last night 14,500 people showed up for the opening night and many made professions of faith in Christ. There was music by the ever awesome David Crowder*Band, as well as Heather Headley and Greg Laurie gave a powerful message called, “What do you live for?”

What is really exciting about this crusade is the fact that over 220 churches have come together to make this event happen. Chicago has a long legacy of evangelistic events with men like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham having held meetings here in the past. Remarkably, this event is the first time churches have worked together to put on a large-scale event like this in fifteen years.

I was also super stoked to have the chance to meet Dr. Erwin Lutzer for the first time. I have been listening to his messages and reading his books for a long time. My favorite books that he has written are, One Minute After You Die and Hitler’s Cross. He pastors the historic Moody Church in downtown Chicago. Pastoring there would be pretty intimidating considering previous ministers have had last names like: Moody, Ironside, Wiersbe, and Redpath! But he is a phenomenal preacher and it was an honor to meet him.


Dr. Erwin Lutzer and I backstage

There are two more nights to go! Pray and watch online at Harvest.org tonight starts at 6:30pm CST


Day Tripper

I’m heading home from an overnight trip to Seattle and my head is spinning from an awesome 24 hours of stimulation and information…and now I am singing the beatle’s song that I used to title this blog…but I digress.

Pastor Coy and I shot out here after Skull Church to attend a one day leadership conference put on by Catalyst featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel. From 9am to 5pm we were (literally) bombarded by an exorbitant amount of practical advice on leading with vision and energetically executing your God-given mission. Andy pastors North Point in Atlanta, Georgia and Craig pastors Lifechurch.tv (the church that produced the killer Youversion Bible app for mobile devices.) Their sessions were salient, sage, and strategically aimed at cranking up momentum in ministry. Phenomenal.
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Straight after the conference we headed downtown and met Pastor Mark Driscoll and his executive Pastor Jamie Munson for dinner. They were gracious to spend almost three hours with us as we picked their brains on ministry, church, leadership, and what they have learned in the almost 14 years that Mars Hill Church has been turning Seattle and beyond upside down for Jesus. They opened up the floodgates and, in what I have realized is quintessential Mark Driscoll style, were like machine-guns of advice/encouragement/challenge/inspiration/sarcasm. It was kind of like drinking from a fire hose but it was awesome. There is much I can learn from Mark and I was honored to spend time with him.
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Over the course of the day we took in a lot on subjects ranging from: effectively using video teaching, conserving energy in the midst of a full preaching schedule, building systems and structure to keep up with the growth with out smothering the creative chaos that God used to bring the freshness and growth in the first place, etc; One topic of particular interest to me was the ins and outs of having multiple sites. All three men we were listening to do this VERY well. If you take North Point Church, Mars Hill Church, and Lifechurch.tv together there are over 25 campuses! We meet at two locations currently but are praying about more in the future.
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Coy and I spent some time, later that evening, ambling around downtown Seattle ruminating on the different things that we had heard, like glutted cows. I’m sure for several days to come we will continue to be processing and sifting through the wealth of knowledge that has been imparted to us.

I try and learn what I can from a broad spectrum of leaders, not just any one source exclusively. (Except Jesus!) An important part of that is having the wisdom to chew the meat and spit out the bones. I think you should have a full “bull-pen” of influencers and coaches, who are each strong in different ways, without ever trying to be a carbon copy of any one person exclusively and you will be much better for it. This means being quick to learn from anyone but slow to implement with thought and prayer. And this coaching doesn’t have to be face-to-face or even at a conference. I learn from pastors, leaders, authors, and people that I have never met on a weekly basis through podcasts, books and websites. I definitely have found that leadership is something that is caught better than it is taught.
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This morning (since it was my first time in Seattle) we made the obligatory tourist trip to the Pike Place Market and had a coffee from the very first Starbucks. The Mermaid Mecca. It was surprisingly humble and yet they have a map on the wall showing all the Starbucks in the world, all birthed from that nondescript location. I6,082 was their number of locations at the time the map was printed. Staggering. As I drank my Americano and thought of the evangelistic manner in which Starbucks spread their wings from their “Jerusalem,” (Seattle) to their state, the country and literally to the ends of the earth I was inspired to continue to make Jesus famous, with every breath, ’til He returns.
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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!!


catalyst

This week I attended Catalyst West, a leadership conference in Southern California. There were some great speakers like Andy Stanley and Mark Driscoll and some provokative insights on how to better leverage the power of social media in the church. As you would expect from Catalyst, it was very well organized and full of energy and also a little over the top. For example, the Samoan dancers in loin cloths flicking their tongues and flexing their pecs to the war drums was a little disturbing…

Without a doubt, the highlight of the conference was the evening with Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio. They didn’t have any laser-shooting robots, or comic sketches or loin-cloths. It was just a simple and powerful night of worship and the Word. It rocked. Jennie and I both experienced God doing eternal things in our hearts as we worshipped and were ministered to by Louie’s talk and we left recharged and refreshed.

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I had never heard Louie speak in person before, though I have been impacted and blessed by his ministry for years. One of the biggest things I enjoyed watching was the partnership between Chris and Louie on stage. Though one spoke and the other sang, you could tell that they were working together for the same cause through the whole night. As I watched, I thought of Ira Sankey and DL Moody, Cliff Barrows and Billy Graham–examples of worship leader/speaker teams that were united powerfully. And it clearly makes a big difference when God melds two different hearts together to be used in harmony in this way.

I think I am going to post soon about some things that you can do to try and get and stay in sync with your worship leader.