It’s True: Preaching My Last Sermon Series at Courageous Church

by ShaunKing on March 5, 2011 · 59 comments

Hey Courageous Church family!

Tomorrow I will begin my last sermon series @ Courageous Church.  If this sounds dramatic, it is.

For the next 2 months until Easter Sunday, we are going to dive head first into a series I am calling: DISCIPLE.  We will spend this time learning what it means to be a disciple of Jesus then we will go and be disciples of Jesus.  I am not stepping down as pastor, but I am stepping up to what I feel is a strong call of God for our church to make a radical move.  I have chosen to be obedient to God and hope this stirs your faith.

During these 7 weeks I am also going to ask you to attend many gatherings, trainings, workshops, and prayer meetings. I am also going to ask you to serve God in exciting ways that may be new to you.  It will challenge and strengthen you.  It will require you to step up in ways that maybe you didn’t even know were possible.

After Easter Sunday, the focus of our church will make a radical shift such that our time, energy, skills, and budget will be spent in ways that will look very different than our first two years together, but will look much more like Jesus of the Gospels.  An intense focus will be placed on discipleship, relationships, and radical service to hurting people and pressing causes in our city and around the world.  We have new systems and structures that will be rolled out in the days and weeks ahead.

Beginning in May, we will have one LARGE awesome service per month instead of 10-12 services.  Our small groups system will be completely overhauled.  Teams of 40-60 will be formed to tackle crisis issues in our city and around the world that honor God.  We will place a much greater emphasis on training and discipleship on how to BE a Christian.

Currently, the overwhelming percentage of our time, energy, skills, budget, and creativity are spent preparing for Sunday morning services, getting people to our Sunday services, and getting them to volunteer for our Sunday morning services.  I love what we do on Sunday morning. I love preaching and it is one of my primary gifts.  I love our worship team, our breakfast, our volunteers.  Our church is growing.

However, 5 things have convinced me that this extreme emphasis on Sunday morning is not the will of God for our church.

1. Our city is falling apart in painful ways that break God’s heart.  Atlanta is now the nation’s hub for child sex trafficking.  We have one of the highest teen incarceration rates in the nation.  Our education system in Atlanta is beyond broken.  In the face of these things, the church continues to preach and sing, but kids keep getting sold to perverts for sex.

If James 1:27 is true and “Authentic faith in the eyes of God is caring for widows and orphans” then I declare that our church will have authentic faith and have hands and feet that address these issues.  Right now, our church, like most American churches, as Rick Warren said “Is one big mouth”.

2. As I read the Gospels and see Jesus, I am increasingly stumped how we determined sermons and songs are what makes us most like Him.   I am not saying we do away with them, but we preach and sing too much and serve and love in radical ways far too little.  The answer is not to add love on top of the sermons and songs, but to decrease the sermons and songs and increase the service and love to create a balance that looks like the life of Jesus.

3. This week I was able to meet with a personal hero of mine and he said something to me that was shocking.  One of the best preachers in the world, he leads one of the largest churches in the country.  He told me, “At this point in my life I have preached thousands of sermons and I am not even sure what they mean to God, but nothing makes me feel more alive and like I am nailing God’s will like caring for foster children.  I can point my finger in the Bible and say yes – this is what God wants.”

For me, I do not want to wait another twenty years to come to this conclusion.  I do not want to wait until our entire church is built around my sermons (as it is becoming) and then conclude that it may or may not be what most honors God.  I’d rather go for it now.

4. Anybody that ever heard the vision of Courageous Church before we launched in January of 2009, knows that our vision was to never become a Sunday morning machine, but this is what we have become and we do it well.  A real temptation exists to keep chugging along, do it like other churches do it, and try to forget the original vision of Courageous Church to take bold leaps of faith to bring about real change in peoples lives, in our city and in the world.

Most of our time is now spent thinking about the arrangement of chairs, the execution of payroll, the brightness of the lights, the printing of the announcements, the lyrics on the screens, the pitch from the mics, and in the midst of all of this – I confess that people have been hurt in the process.  We created a church to love God and love people and in the busy-ness of it all – people that we cared about were neglected and forgotten. I won’t do it this way another day.

I am speaking at a youth retreat in Haiti and our church cannot really afford to send any of our teens because the machine is just so doggone expensive to maintain.  Not feeling that at all.

5. I feel like this is what God wants for Courageous Church.  You know me well enough to know that I never use “God told me” to win arguments or to enforce my will.  I really do feel, though, that this is God’s will for us.

A pastor friend of mine that I spoke with about this shift months ago said he would fully support our shift as long as I didn’t start to blast other pastors unlike me.  This decision is not an indictment on the American church – it’s just where we are going.  Privately, many pastors have high fived me because they understand where this comes from and I hope that this gives other pastors permission to move in this direction if they feel God is leading them that way.

We will spell out more details and include you in this conversation as a key voice moving forward.  I love you all.  Pray for wisdom.

Be Courageous!

Shaun

  • http://www.dannyjbixby.com dannyjbixby

    Wow, quite a shift! Sounds like something pretty awesome though, hope it's a huge impactful move for you guys!

  • http://timjlee.tumblr.com Tim

    I don't know you, but I've followed you on Twitter and read some of your blogs for almost a year now. From one pastor trying to honor what God says the church should look like to another, I want to commend you for your commitment to doing whatever it takes to satisfy that question in your heart.
    I'm sure the naysayers will be many. But Jesus had his share if I recall. Keep up the good work bro & may God expand your influence as you take this radical, bold, and Kingdom minded step.

    God bless,
    Tim

  • http://www.azuspeak.com Avril

    Thank you so much for being bold enough to do this. And thank you for staying true to what you believe is the true mission of Courageous Church. God bless you!

  • http://deepwaterwalk.com Wayne Thomas

    Praise God! This sounds like what the church of Jesus should be! Thank you for being obedient, and for leading the way!

  • http://www.twitter.com/bdavidstevens Bruce David Stevens

    Hello Pastor Shaun.
    My name is B.David and I have participated in volunteer as well as full time ministry over the past 20 years. I am only 36, so most of my saved life has been participating in church functions. I am African-American as well. I believe that this is important to mention because in every church environment that I have served in, I have rarely witnessed a church really undestanding what it means to honor God with their lives. I’ve hear it preached many times that we are to live life to the praise and glory of God, but this principle is seldomly activated. I’ve cone to the conclusion that the church today is too “inward” focused. Spirituality and living for God tends to be confined to the 4 walls of a church. “Real” spiritual living is not incorporated enough into everyday life. So when someone with this mindset hears about what you are talking about, it’s foreign, and sometimes, not accepted. This is all because the “institutionalized” church cares more about the building, an empire, and, let’s face it, money.
    Honestly, I feel like stopping everything that I am doing to come and join you. I wish that more pastors had your understanding and your heart to see God’s kingdom established. I feel that we as a church have facilitated an Old Teatament view of worship that is crippling our people.
    I could write so much more but I can’t type as fast with this iPhone! I have to say this before I leave. I am a worship leader and have been for the past 15 years. It would cripple my finances to have a worship program decreased my church. However, I would rather see the Lord glorified than to be deceived into thinking that I an really going his work when I am not.

    Blessings Shaun.

    David

  • http://www.whatsthislifefor.org Pastor_T

    I'll keep it short and sweet. I stopped following awhile back and haven't paid much attention as I kinda have my hands full, but this is one of the most remarkable posts I've ever read. The fact that it's not just a post, but a plan of ACTION makes it even more remarkable.

    Now THAT is courageous!

    Praying for you and your team!

  • http://genebrooks.blogspot.com Gene Brooks

    Dude, you're trying to act like Jesus, like you are his disciple or something. What are you thinking? The thing is, you ARE thinking — like Jesus.

  • http://timjlee.tumblr.com Tim

    David,
    Your passionate response to this blog is moving. I'm inspired even more by how deeply you've been inspired. Thanks for letting us look in on you're sharing your heart here.
    Now, please forgive my ignorance and know that my question to you is not intended to be argumentative. It comes from a place of loving the diversity of the cultures God has created and being genuinely curious.
    I was surprised when you stated, "I am African-American as well. I believe that this is important to mention because in every church environment that I have served in, I have rarely witnessed a church really undestanding what it means to honor God with their lives."
    I myself am white (as white as they being from England with a German mother and an English Father) I am curious regarding your thoughts on this. Can you give some insight into how that is relevant, as you stated it was, but in my ignorance I seem to have missed something. Would you be so kind as to help me understand?

    Thank you so much for your time David,

    Tim

  • http://www.streetjesus.info Rand Swift

    Shuan – a friend of mine sent me your post. I wept as I read it. As someone that some people in someplaces have at one time or another used the word ‘prophetic’ to describe, I want to add my voice to what you are hearing.

    A year ago I finished a book on spiritual warfare. In the last chapter I describe a vision the Lord gave me that alignes with what I belive you are being shown. Your blog on this topic causes me to think – “Maybe I’m not crazy after all.”

    Thank you. I will be praying for you as you move wonderfully forward in the vision of the Almighty. This is where the Lord begins to visit evey family on earth and overthrows the consuming darkness upon ‘villages’. We will find the big picture will come into focus as we bring to splendor of the Lord into small geograhy after small geography.

    Would love to send you a free hard copy of the book, The Revolution Is ON! if you can foward me a P.O. Box or address to send it to.

    In the meantime if you have any interest in it you can preview it at http://www.streetjesus.info/TheRevolutionIsOn.html

    Go to Chapter 15 and you can read the vision first hand.

    God bless you, over and over and over and over again!

  • Brian Tillman

    Shaun, I always knew you would do great things. You sound like John Wesley in a way. Here me out. Wesley's movement was not to create a new church or denomination. He never left the Anglican church. He just saw "A More Excellent Way." He organized small groups and did great service to the people and the community. This was his call. When the American colonies broke away from England, they created the Methodist Church… Before it was a society of people working to BE disciples… (That is what I believe the text says in the Greek anyhow…). I am proud of you. I pray God's blessing and guidance for you and those you lead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/uncleleopard Lennard Teo

    I had a vision last night that you visited the church I serve in, or was it I who visited yours? From Discipleship, we are moving in the direction of Social Holiness. Though we live in different parts of the world, I have some idea of what your congregation and you are getting ready for. I pray only God’s best for Courageous Church, and the Power of the Holy Spirit to bring God’s favor in all corners of Atlanta, as the people respond to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord & Saviour, Amen !

  • Melissa Foiles

    I love your heart, Shaun.

  • http://twitter.com/ryancarsonmusic @ryancarsonmusic

    THIS is the church that I want to be a part of! I can't tell you how many times I've heard expressed a longing to do exactly what you're doing. Sad thing is

  • http://twitter.com/ryancarsonmusic @ryancarsonmusic

    Ha! Too many characters.

    Sad thing is…

    …this is the first time I've ever actually seen someone go for it. Praise God for your uncompromising faithfulness! I will give anything and everything I can to support and be a part of this work of God.

  • stephen z

    God speed Shaun!
    It's exciting to see someone leading this way without running the course of brick and mortar first! We will pray for you and Courageous to become the change Atlanta needs!

  • http://twitter.com/joshbickford @joshbickford

    I imagine it will be, but I hope this is HUGE! Godspeed!

  • shaunking

    Thanks a ton Danny! Pray for us man!

  • shaunking

    I appreciate it Tim! Keep us in your prayers man! Stay tuned!

  • shaunking

    I appreciate it Avril!

  • shaunking

    Thanks a ton Wayne!

  • shaunking

    Hey Man! Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Let's pray for each other often!

  • shaunking

    Hey Tim,

    I think he just wanted me to understand the cultural background he is coming from.

  • shaunking

    Thank you brother. You were there in the pre-launch stages and know the original vision as well as anybody. Would love your prayers.

    Your Friend,

    Shaun

  • shaunking

    Haha! Thanks Gene!

  • shaunking

    Thanks for sharing your heart Rand. Email me @ shaunking@courageous.tv and I will give you a mailing address. I appreciate it!

  • shaunking

    Thank you brother. I value your thoughts a great deal. Pray for us any chance you get.

  • shaunking

    Thanks a ton my friend!

  • shaunking

    Thanks M.

  • shaunking

    I appreciate it brother! Stay tuned!

  • shaunking

    Thanks my friend!

  • shaunking

    Thanks Josh. Pray for us brother.

  • Julia

    Amazing. You have inspired me beyond my own imagination. You will be lifted up in my prayers as our Saviour guides your steps!

  • http://Website Tracey Axnick

    Shaun, this really moved me.
    Of course, I’m reminded of the verse in Joshua “… be STRONG and COURAGEOUS…”
    You and your church are clearly embodying that, and I have no doubt that God will bless your efforts.

    I will continue to pray for you, your family and your amazing church.
    It’s a blessing to see a church that is much more about the community and doing Jesus’ work, than about a “Sunday Morning Social Hour”…. I love that. (And I’m sure God loves it too.)

    You rock!

  • Cory Clemens

    You find yourself praying for things…and then like in acts…Peter shows up at the door..and you feel like saying…is this a ghost…but then realize it is not. It is really happening! Hallelujah!! I believe that there are just masses of people even in church systems who feel strongly about a need for this type of change to bring the good news to our generation …and as a forerunner to what God is doing I applaud you and will pray for you. Send all prayer requests to cclemens75@hotmail.com or call me 858-688-4552 (corman777pray ministries) twitter.com/corman777

  • Ivy

    Hi Pastor Shaun,

    One thing that I have ALWAYS admired about you is that I genuinely believe that you have a TRUE heart for people. I understand that seeing the issue, and knowing what needs to be done is the first step, but the HARDEST step is actually knowing what steps to take in executing the plan. When I read this, it brought tears to my eyes, because THIS is the Shaun King that I have always admired as a leader and the needs of our city are so great. It's easy to get caught up in doing routines and forget the original call, but clearly you are willing to "risk it all" (whatever people assume the IT may be) to do what is TRULY pleasing to the heart of God. I will be praying for you and I am encouraged by your stand as a man of God.

  • http://www.billbrittonministries.com Becky Britton Volz

    Many 'un-churched' are seeking exactly what you are about to do! I expect the profile of your congregation will change and expand as you embrace those we Jesus-People are called to love, protect and care for. Courageous Church indeed! Pace yourself bro for the 'tsunami'.

  • Rev Ron

    Shaun, I have been a pastor for almost 31 years and have tried to help congregations get beyond their stuck position. Even if you lose half your congregation I hope you follow through with this plan. The disciples and everyone else met in the temple to listen to their teaching. But they always split up to disciple, serve and evangelize; which I suspect, was the greater use of their time. I pray you go forward and that other congregations will follow the trail your congregation blazes.

  • http://metromom.org metromom

    Shaun,
    These words resonate with my heart. I know there must be an enormous amount of fear, or what-if's as you face this transition. Your desire to follow after the Jesus of the actual Bible rather than what we have made him must far outweigh those fears. Thank you for your inspiring faith (and courage) in the face of the uncertain.

    Redirecting a small little canoe (like our church) in a direction of God's heart would be simple, moving a ship like yours would be more of a challenge, moving the cruiseliner of the Global Church is a task that would take an enormous amount of time and power. I pray that your shift encourages the cruiseliner to redirect its course.

  • http://twitter.com/StricklandDavid @StricklandDavid

    This is EXACTLY the type of Church my Wife first mentioned to me well over a year ago and the type of Church that we have begun to dream about being a part of. I have even seen another pastor mention this and unchurched people have said i'd go to a Church like that. Hopefully one day we can be apart of a church like this. Praying for you bro cant wait to see what God does through this. Thanks

  • Eric Hood

    Shaun,
    It was really refreshing to read your post. In the past year I have been thinking about something very similar to what you guys are going to be doing. God bless bro.

  • http://destinyleaderonline.com/ Byron

    I am tracking right with you Shaun. I too am at a cross roads with this issue. I appreciate your "take action" style and humility in the process. We gotta stay connected man. It was good talking to you in person last week at Catalyst. Be well my friend.

  • Rod Sprauve

    Shaun,
    It appears that the Holy Spirit has prompted an authentic movement for Christ-likeness at Courageous Church. Your passion, vision and forthright manner are undeniable and needed for this kind of leadership. Whatever the price some suggest your church may pay to accomplish this, this new direction clearly demonstrates that you and Courageous Church are dutifully working on your "Well Done!" Keep the faith, and continue to be bold in Christ.

    Grace & Peace,
    Rod Sprauve

  • Tasha

    This is great stuff…Lead the way…I think that is what David was getting to in his post. To hear this type of transition in a predominately African American church is not the norm. It doesn't matter what color the congregation or Pastor looks like, this type of obedience can revolutionize the church. It's what my friend calls from the church seats to the streets. Your church is in a great position to switch directions. People need to see real Christians who serve a real God. We must realize many of those same people are not coming to our church services each week. Listen to God! I pray for continued wisdom, strength and protection over you and your family. You are taking big risks and embodying what it means to be courageous for the kingdom of God. Lead the way stay committed to the vision God has given you.

  • http://www.shawneda.com Shawneda Marks

    I am in awe of your courage and the church you are talking about launching is the kind of movement and fellowship I've been looking to see happen since I was a child and read the bible from cover to cover when I gave me life to Christ with full understanding of what I was doing at the age of 9. When I came and worked for you to help with the twitchange auction last year and and didn't see it I wondered what happened to the young man whose blog I'd followed for years. My heart is so full of joy and excitement for what you are doing. It is unfortunate the exposure of other pastor's were the catalyst for change but am happy it has come for you. I will ask God how He wants me to pray for you and as I'm available to help even though I'm not a member count me in as there.

  • http://www.davidputmanlive.com David Putman

    My I and many others be as courageous as you. Lead the way!

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  • http://www.lindsayblogs.com Lindsay Chung

    I feel the strange urge to do a proper fist pump for you right now (but I won't because tha'ts just embarassing)! This is a bold move and will make you a TRULY Courageous Church. I can't wait to see what you do in this city. I hope that your boldness moves other pastors to be just as bold. This is how Jesus meant for it to be…I'm sure of that. You are going to do amazing things and I can't wait to see!

    I have been going through David Putman's Religious Detox challenge and THIS is what it's all about….forgetting everything we know about "religion" and truly becoming the church that Christ meant for us.

  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    Shaun, I am here for the first time. But, from reading this post, I know that God is doing something awesome in your life and church that you haven't felt in many years. I truly commend you for being open, bold and decisive in your mission. Let us be Christ's disciples who heal the wounds of many around us!
    http://joeandancy.com/2011/03/17/giving-is-reward

  • Susan

    I discovered your blog today, and posted this on my FB wall. Hoping to inspire more in the body of Christ to "repent" and change our way of thinking about why / how / who the true Church is.
    It has never been about all that we have made it.

    Through social media, I've connected with other followers of Jesus who have helped me along my journey and confirmed the "Awakening" that happened to me several years ago. Stephen Hill is one of those connections. http://www.harvest-now.org/ Check out the 'Luke 10 Manual -Mission as Mandated and Modeled by Jesus'.

    Many people who have done "church as usual" for decades may have difficulty at first, so if some are not able to walk where Holy Spirit is leading you, don't be discouraged. It takes time to go throught what I call "spiritual detox". Be encouraged. The sleeping giant is awakening.
    May you prosper as you continue to follow Him, wherever He leads. God Bless you, my brother in Christ.

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  • Mary Davis

    Amen Pastor!!! When I began reading I thought you were referencing our city and our local assembly.

  • http://www.axiomchurchny.com Dan White

    Our church here in Syracuse NY is planting with a similar model. We pour all our energy and focus on spiritual formation in smaller communities through out our city. These communities press into justice issues, practice hospitality, connect with their neighborhood together and feast on the word together. We also are beginning to gather once a month to collectively worship. We are always looking for resources from churches making this hard shift. We are doing our best to create documents and templates for how to do this effectively. If you have any resources you could share with us, our little movement would greatly appreciate it.

  • http://www.esauproject.com Julie

    Beautiful!

  • TURN

    So will there be significant time devoted – not just one service a month – to studying, hearing and teaching God's Word or will most of the attention be on the social gospel?

  • mtsidad

    "As I read the Gospels and see Jesus, I am increasingly stumped how we determined sermons and songs are what makes us most like Him. I am not saying we do away with them, but we preach and sing too much and serve and love in radical ways far too little."

    This is a great insight. I've had the same question, but I couldn't put it into words.

  • mtsidad

    OH, and I just realized how this sounds – "I have the same insight as YOU" — that's not what I was trying to say. I meant "I've been thinking that kind of stuff, too, but you put it into words and all I had were these vague feelings."

    Sheesh.

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  • http://c-mog.blogspot.com/ Drae

    Praying for you and more like you. As much as I love Sunday to Sunday church I found a true love for ministry in the jails. It’s there where the Lord birth the charge to minister to the brother in jail and actually do something about the steady rise of men in jail versus the rapid decline of men in Christ. It is only here and encouraging others day to day where I feel like i am doing real worthwhile ministry. I love preaching and hearing the preached word and I love the insitution of church, but none of that is any good if more and more people resist God and don’t come to him. Would you want to go to someone’s house that you didn’t know anything about? I wouldn’t because I would feel like a stranger every time I stepped in. – be blessed and a blessing

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