Why Our Pastors are Excited about Baptism Party

With our Baptism Party coming up on November 17, we asked each of our pastors what they were most excited about.

Take a look:

Jay Hendricks:

I'm so pumped for this fall's Baptism Party! This year we're trying something a little different and I think it's going to be an amazing time of hearing stories of Jesus's grace, celebrating through song/laughter/dance/food/clapping, and in the end worshipping King Jesus for all He is!

Our goal for this gathering is to join together as one family proclaiming that we are - reconciled to Christ, reconciled to each other, and forever His by His blood! Hope you will join us for this celebration!

Allen Tipping:

I am stoked about the upcoming Baptism gathering on November 17, because I get to sing, shout and celebrate with my church family. We get rowdy and I love it. We scream, shout and clap every time someone comes up out of the water because it’s a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Baptism is a visual picture of the stories each person is telling; how they were dead in their sins and are now raised with Christ; how they were rescued by Jesus and are now being transformed into His likeness. It’s beautiful.

This Baptism Gathering has the potential to be even better than most because the celebration concludes with a breakfast feast. The 10 a.m. gathering will be followed by Brunch and the 6 p.m. will be followed by Brinner.

 Can you say, “bacon”?

 I am already thanking Jesus for an awesome day of feasting and celebrating His goodness.

Jon Ludovina:

I love the few times a year that we get together as a big family to party. I love the excitement. I love celebrating Jesus’ grace and proclaiming the gospel. I love eating and feasting and joy. It’s a little bit of heaven practice.

 Specifically this year I’m pretty stoked about eating breakfast all day long. The only thing better than eating breakfast at breakfast time is eating it at lunch time and calling it brunch. The only thing better than brunch is eating breakfast again for dinner and calling it brinner. No offense to the other meals of the day, but they are far inferior to breakfast.

 And I’m not talking about your fancy, frou-frou brunch with tea at the country club. I’m talking about bacon. And sausage. And cinnamon rolls. And casserole. And more bacon. And syrup all over all of it.

 Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot.

 Then again… eating breakfast all day with your church family while celebrating Jesus giving people the good life. I stand corrected. Life can get better.

Kent Bateman:

One of my favorite things about Baptism Gathering is hearing how the gospel sets all different types of people free from sin and rescues them into God's family. God started the process of saving me through a Baptism Gathering, so I'm excited every year to get to see and celebrate the stories of more people he's done that for.

Adam Gibson:

As our church family has grown over the years, the times where we can be together at once have gotten fewer and fewer. With something like 900 people in LifeGroups right now, there just aren't many opportunities to be in the same place at once...especially when our Devine Street building only holds about 290.

This all makes me really look forward to the chances we have to get some time with all of us in the same place, such as the Baptism Party coming up. I love hearing Jesus stories. I love getting to welcome new folks and let them hear what Jesus has done in people's lives. I am so excited to for a chance to sing, celebrate, enjoy God's work among us, and eat bacon with my (church) family. 

Brandon Clements:

Every week at the Gathering we preach the gospel from stage. A pastor gets up and expounds on how Jesus is good news for us and what it means to follow Him in everyday life.

One of my favorite things about baptism gatherings is that it is our people do the preaching through their stories. Seeing people open up and transparently share how Jesus has done for them what they could not do for themselves never grows old. The excitement, the screams and applause for those being baptized, a symbol that Christ has raised them to spiritual life--it all gives me chill bumps.

Baptism is telling the truth about us and about Jesus, and that truth makes Him look really good. 

 Michael Bailey:

I'm pumped for the Baptism Party because each one is like that rest stop with a cool overlook when you're driving through the mountains. You park your car, get out, and look at the magnificent view of the land you've just driven through. For me, the Baptism Party is a chance to pause and appreciate the magnificence of where God has brought us over this past season. It's chance for me to sit back and soak in the great view his faithfulness to seek and save us. 

Get Your Potluck On

Our Baptism Party is coming up quickly on November 17 at the Devine Street Campus. As part of the celebration we are throwing a potluck-style brunch (after the 10:00am Gathering) and brinner (after the 6:00pm Gathering). Eating together is a great way to show that Jesus has made us a big family, and a great way to welcome our guests to let them see what family is like.

Li'l Help Please

This is where we need your help. We are asking people to bring food to help with brunch and/or brinner. To help us coordinate, we have created a quick form to fill out. We'd love for there to be more than enough food there for us and our guests, and if we all chip in to bring our award-winning dishes, it'll be a great time with bacon and pancakes for all.

Take a second now to fill out the form, and we'll contact you soon with more details.

[button label="Let us know what you're bringing" link="https://midtowncolumbia.ccbchurch.com/w_form_response.php?form_id=362" shape="default"]

Who Should I Invite to Baptism Party?

With our Baptism Party coming up on November 17, we wanted to help our family think through who to invite to the event. We usually don't make a huge deal out of inviting people to attend Gatherings, just because in a lot of cases inviting them to experience community in the context of a LifeGroup, is just as helpful if not more.

But because of the way we do our Baptism Gatherings, we want as many people as possible to hear the message of the gospel proclaimed through lives that God has changed. In light of that, we want you to invite as many people as possible to the Baptism Party.

Here's a few people we'd recommend inviting:

  1. Friends & Family. People close to you are the most likely to accept an invitation because they want to know what it is in Columbia that you're so excited about, so let 'em know.
  2. People who have intellectual/philosophical/personal problems with Christianity. Sometimes the most powerful way to help people see past their objections and doubts is to let them hear about lives that Jesus is actively working in and changing. During each Gathering, we'll get to watch around 15 stories from different people who have been set free by the gospel of Jesus. In a lot of ways, that's better than any convincing philosophy or apologetics book.
  3. People who think they're Christians. Because of where we live, many people consider themselves Christians without an understanding of the gospel, conviction of sin, or repentance. Witnessing the stories of people who were in similar places can be a powerful way to reframe what being a Christian means to people who aren't sure.
  4. Anyone who loves celebrating. The goal for the Baptism Party is simple: we want it to be one big Jesus celebration. So if you know somebody who loves celebrating, they're likely to enjoy the Baptism Gathering.
  5. Anyone who loves bacon. Since we're serving brunch and brinner after the 10:00am & 6:00pm respectively, there will most definitely be bacon involved. Tell someone you're taking them to a meal, and bring them to the Baptism Party (okay, don't actually do that since that would be lying, but you can tell them food will be included!)

[button label="Find out more about the Baptism Party" link="http://midtowncolumbia.com/baptismparty" shape="default"]

Some Help Reading Ecclesiastes

To many Christians, Ecclesiastes is a very strange read. Throughout the book, Solomon often sounds depressed, incredibly cynical and at times he seems to say blatantly untrue things or Biblically false ideas. On top of all of that, there are times when he seems to contradict himself.

But hiding behind these initial frustrations and confusions lies a wealth of wisdom, insight and truth waiting for us. When we understand the literary genre and the nature of the task Solomon is accomplishing throughout Ecclesiastes, the light bulbs start to turn on with otherwise very dark passages. Wisdom literature graces us with some of the most helpful, beautiful passages in all of Scripture and simultaneously befuddles us with some of the most confusing passages in all of Scripture.

The reason for Solomon’s apparent pessimism throughout the book of Ecclesiastes originates from the nature of the task that he is accomplishing for us. Throughout the book, Solomon walks in a tension of two views of life:

  1. Life with no view of God.
  2. Life with God in view.

Solomon spends a majority of Ecclesiastes considering view number 1 which is why it tends to be so pessimistic, cynical and strange sounding. In brief moments throughout the book he expands his view to include God and we get breaths of fresh air. Whenever you find yourself stumped by a verse or a passage in Ecclesiastes, immediately ask yourself the question “Is he describing life with no view of God right now?” This is the case almost every time he is depressed sounding or seemingly wrong.

For example in Ecclesiastes 10:19, Solomon writes:

“Money answers everything.”

At first glance that is blatantly wrong. But here he is describing life with no view of God and saying at a practical level, money is an answer to an incredible amount of problems under the sun. It won’t fix the underlying brokenness but it can certain solve a lot of symptomatic issues. It’s a truism presented in a very specific context of life considered with no view of God.

Practical steps to interpreting Ecclesiastes:

  1. Spend time praying and meditating on the tough passages asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate them to you.
  2. Ask yourself the question, “Is he describing life with no view of God right now?”
  3. If you are still stuck, talk to your LifeGroup and see if you can figure it out together.
  4. In a pinch, consult commentaries, your LifeGroup coach or someone you know with more biblical knowledge.

Don’t let a confusing statement here or there and a seemingly pessimistic tone limit you from enjoying all that Jesus has to offer us in this book. When it’s the hardest to understand, rely on Jesus’ strength the most. When it seems too murky to press on, pray for Jesus’ light to illuminate it. And together as a family, let’s learn from Jesus through Solomon how to live The Good Life.

How to Become a Midtown Pastor

In Sunday's sermon, we mentioned that our leadership process starts with being a healthy Christian in a LifeGroup. We think it's crucial that a person be known in community before they lead a community, and lead a LifeGroup on mission before leading a church on mission.

For those interested in further information, we wanted to share our official leadership pipeline with you. The attached PDF gives you the rundown on how a person goes from group member to pastor.


[button label="View our Leadership Pipeline" link="http://midtowncolumbia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/LeadershipPipeline.pdf" shape="default"]

I'm Ready to be Generous...Now What?

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In the final sermon of our Treasure Hunting series, Adam talked about how the purpose of our money is to help people see Jesus. In addition, throughout the series, we've been praying together as a church that Jesus would help us to be wise and generous as we give more of our riches away.

We've already heard some great stories about how Jesus has used the series to challenge people to more generosity. But in addition, there may be some of us who are thinking: "okay, I'm ready to be generous...who do I give to?"

To help, we wanted to compile a list of organizations (both international and local) that are doing incredible work. This, of course, is nowhere close to a comprehensive list--just some organizations we know about and love.


The following are organizations in and around Columbia:


The following are organizations around the globe:

School Supplies for Pinehurst

One of the communities that our Allen-Benedict church plant is ministering to is collecting school supplies to provide for local inner-city children who may not be able to provide them for themselves.

The local Pinehurst Community Council is trying to collect enough supplies for 150-200 students, and we as a church would love to provide some or all of those. This is an incredible way of helping the church build with the community they're building relationships with, and we want to help them.

Here's the things needed:

  • pencils #2 - lots for all ages
  • erasers
  • glue sticks
  • kleenex
  • hand sanitizers
  • wide ruled loose leaf paper
  • college ruled loose leaf paper
  • rulers
  • crayons
  • markers
  • highlighters
  • 3 ring binders 1 inch
  • folders with pockets
  • math kits
  • calculators
  • pens black and blue ink
  • book bags
  • composition books
  • 3x5 index cards (for middle school)

If you're interested in helping out to provide these supplies, purchase the items and bring them to the Gathering on July 28.

Money Health Diagnostic

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what's the difference between the chicken and the pig?

The chicken is involved, but the pig is really committed.

To help you really commit and faithfully take next steps in light of what Jesus has been teaching us throughout this series, we are giving you a money health diagnostic tool. The goal with this tool is to use it as a personal inventory of your heart when it comes to money.

For most people in our culture, money is often seen as a massively private issue.  The problem with that is that left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, money problems do not tend to fix themselves. Similarly, left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, our hearts do not tend to fix themselves or repent very well.

So when Jesus calls us to walk in the light because He has made us children of the light (Ephesians 5:8-14), He’s not cursing us. He’s inviting us into His blessing. He’s inviting us into His freedom and His peace. The best, most biblically faithful way for real spiritual growth to happen in the area of our finances is for us to honestly deal with our finances in the context of community.

So use the Money Health Diagnostic as a personal tool and use it as a discussion guide to help talk about your finances in your LifeGroup. Use it as a tool to help keep your cash clear and help you grow in being rich towards God.

[button label="Get the Money Health Diagnostic" link="http://midtowncolumbia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Money-Health-Diagnostic.pdf" shape="default"]

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

The Gospel & Homosexuality

On July 28 at all of our Gatherings, we are going to deal with a question that is viewed as one of the most defining interactions between Christianity and culture: how should the church think, feel, speak and act towards homosexuality and those who identify themselves as homosexual?

We are praying that Jesus would give us His grace, truth and humility as we approach this topic with a balanced perspective. We believe these Gatherings will be beneficial for you or any of your loved ones who have questions, personal struggles or strong disagreements with what the Bible says about these topics. As always, we will use any topic to emphasize the gospel and to help point ourselves and our guests to our common need for Jesus' grace.

Please pray with us, pray for us and prayerfully invite anyone you know who has questions or concerns about how the church should be engaging with these questions.

[button label="View our Gathering Times & Locations" link="http://www.midtowncolumbia.com/gatherings" shape="default"]

Panel Discussion

In addition, we will host a Gospel & Homosexuality Panel the following Tuesday, July 30. Find out more about the panel.

[gravityform id="3" name="Submit Your Questions"]

A Little Help From Our Friends

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

Each of the following men have been influential in helping our staff honor Jesus in our financial management and grow in generosity to send our wealth ahead by investing in Jesus’ kingdom and mission. Check out their resources for further study, or give them some love for helping us lead and teach you.

Dave Ramsey @DaveRamsey www.daveramsey.com It’s been funny throughout this series how many people have come up to me and asked me, “Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?! He teaches a lot of the same stuff y'all are teaching in this series!” The simple answer is yes. Although I haven’t been actively listening to or learning a lot from Dave, he was absolutely instrumental in helping me learn a lot of basics of personal finance when I was in college. From nationally syndicated radio shows, to regional classes and online tools, Dave is a great resource to help you start living on a budget and be more wise and generous in giving more of your riches away.

Ronald Blue @KingdomAdvisors www.ronblue.com www.kingdomadvisors.org Ronald Blue provides clients with biblically sound wisdom on planning, investing and maximizing generosity (i.e. the longest term investment). He has worked for and started multiple successful financial businesses, including Ronald Blue & Co. (personal financial advisors) and Kingdom Advisors (training for biblical financially-minded people to assist others). He also provided the bucket illustration that we gladly stole and adapted for our sermon Wise, Wicked or Lazy. Thanks Ron!

Randy Alcorn @RandyAlcorn Randy is an author who has written many books including two that were particularly helpful for our treasure hunting series. If you’d like to read more to continue growing in your faithful, biblical financial management in light of eternity, read his book Money, Possessions & Eternity, or if you have less time to spare, the shorter version Treasure Principle.

Steve Von Fange Steve is a relatively new missionary member to the Midtown family, and his gracious generosity and wisdom have already been very helpful.  He is about to start leading a LifeGroup, provided a free day of financial training for our staff, is father to one of our resident interns and graciously offered to teach a Personal Finance Seminar for our church family in conjunction with our Treasure Hunting Series. Steve, thanks for graciously giving yourself to our family and being in on Jesus’ mission for our city!

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Next Steps for Faithful Money Management

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

This past Sunday we looked at practical, biblical, faithful ways to manage the money that Jesus has entrusted to us. Different people are in different situations when it comes to financial management; therefore, faithful repentance and growth looks different for each of us. The question to ask is: what is the next step that I need to take to faithfully manage Jesus’ money?

Step #1: Make a budget. If you currently have no budget, start here. Tell your money where to go. If you don’t tell your money where to go, you will wonder where it went. If you don’t tell your money where to go, too much of your money will always drift towards your lifestyle. Without a plan, it is highly unlikely that you will accidentally invest your money in Jesus’ kingdom and mission.

If this is you and you would like some help, talk to your LifeGroup and sign up for our Personal Finance Seminar.

Step #1b: Get out of consumer debt. This step is so important that I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I call it step 2. If you are racked with debt, the scriptures say that you are in slavery. Proverbs says that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” It doesn’t say that you are dumb, wicked, immoral or wasteful. It says you’re stuck. Chained and enslaved. Unable to freely send your money where you want it to go.

If this is you and you would like some help, talk to your LifeGroup and sign up for our Personal Finance Seminar. We have been praying for you. Our hope for you is that you'd take the first steps in walking out of slavery and into financial freedom.

Step #3: Enjoy some, save some and invest some. Enjoy some: According to 1 Timothy 6:17, “[God] richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” God loves His kids; His financial account managers. It is not wrong or immoral to enjoy some of all that God has given to you. Order the steak sometimes. Thank Jesus for His gracious provision in your life. Celebrate Him.

Save some: According to Proverbs 21:20, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
 but a foolish man devours it.” It’s wise to save some for a rainy day. We save with an open hand where we are ready to protect ourselves and our family when an emergency comes AND we are ready to protect someone else when their emergency comes.

Invest some: According to the entire parable in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus expects us to make His money grow. Different people have different biblical convictions about investing, but here are some overall basics. Don’t be a gambler. Don’t go for get rich quick schemes. Don’t be a cheater. Don’t take advantage of others. But do take some reasonable risks in order to invest some of your savings wisely. Investing allows your money to grow which helps you...

Step #4: Maximize your giving. Overwhelmingly, the Bible speaks the loudest about giving and generosity when it talks about money. It’s because our hearts were designed to give. We look like Jesus when we are giving our stuff away to serve others. We reflect His generosity. We send our treasure ahead to heaven. We get personally invested in what He’s doing here on planet earth. When Jesus comes to settle accounts we will never regret a single dime we gave toward His kingdom and mission.

Depending on your current financial situation, any or all of these steps may be the right next step for you, but the key is to take the next faithful step that Jesus is calling you to take right now.

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Fear & Money

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

This past Sunday we hit on four major money management principles. But we also tagged a fifth money management principle that I wanted to address here on the blog.

Fear is a massively pervasive response to money and money management in our culture. Many of us are crippled by a mentality that sounds something like this: “I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m scared that I’m going to mess it up.”

Honestly, for much of my life I was paralyzed by fear when it came to money. I had seen family members chase after money but never gain any real happiness.  I had seen other family members get into serious trouble with debt. I didn’t want that! I didn’t want to mess it up. So I did nothing. I didn’t look at it. I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t study or try to learn how to grow in managing money.

In other words, I grabbed a shovel and buried my money in the ground.

Because you know, if you can’t see a problem…then it’s not there anymore!  (Warning: the previous statement is chalk full of self-deprecating sarcasm.)

And then slowly, faithfully, and graciously Jesus started changing my heart. And now after a number of years of seeing His faithfulness and His ability to grow me in this area, this is what I’ve come to understand:

Money Management Principle #5: If I fear money, it’s because I don’t understand how much God loves me. (Matthew 25:25, 1 John 4:18, Luke 12:32, Romans 8:15) Fear reveals ways that my heart still doesn’t understand the gospel. God of the universe loves me so much that He sent His son Jesus to die in the cross for me so I could be set free from sin and shame and guilt and condemnation and punishment and judgment and FEAR! And anywhere that I allow my fear to cripple or paralyze me, is a place that I’m not resting in the gospel.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The good news of the gospel is that in Jesus we don’t need to be crippled by fear.  We can faithfully step out, take a risk, get some help and trust that our Father is pleased to help us grow.  Let Jesus’ perfect love cast fear out of your heart and you will show dividends in your bank account, in your ability to save, and in your freedom to give.

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Money Management Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In Sunday's sermon, we looked at four money management principles taken from a parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:14-30 (he tells another version of this parable in Luke 19:11-27). These four money management principles are a tiny portion of the hundreds of biblical wisdom principles for how we handle our finances. But they are also some of the most foundational principles to help us view our money in light eternity and in light of who God is.

Money Management Principle #1: It’s all God’s. (Matthew 25:14-15, Psalm 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8) Everything in all of creation is God’s. There’s nothing He doesn’t rightly look at say, “Mine!” In Psalm 50, He goes as far as to say that if He was hungry (for a delicious steak wrapped in bacon hypothetically), He wouldn’t ask us for food. He has plenty.  The fact that God owns everything means He doesn’t need our money. But it also means, we need to understand that He owns it or we will never learn how to handle it correctly.

Money Management Principle #2: I have a job to do. (Matthew 25:14-15, Proverbs 27:23-24, Proverbs 6:6-11) Because everything is God’s, whatever He has given us is a trust that we are called to manage faithfully. What God has given us includes every opportunity, every relationship, every talent, every bit of leadership ability...and it also includes every dollar. We are Jesus’ account managers charged with the task of bringing a return on his investment in our lives.

Money Management Principle #3: It’s not about how much I get; it’s about being faithful. (Matthew 25:15-18, 1 Corinthians 4:2) People get different amounts; different amounts of intellect, different amounts of opportunity, different amounts of ability, different amounts and quality of parenting. And people get different amounts of money. The question isn’t 'how much did you get?' The question isn’t 'why didn’t you get more or why did so-and-so get so much?' The question is 'were you faithful with what you were given?'

Stop believing that if you got more, then you would start working hard, planning well and giving sacrificially and faithfully. Money is a heart issue, not a salary issue. If you won’t give now, if you won’t be faithful now with a little, then getting more money will not magically change your heart to want to work hard, be faithful or give more.

Money Management Principle #4: My money reveals my heart. (Matthew 25:19-30, Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34) Every financial decision I make is a spiritual decision. Every financial decision I make reveals my heart. Every financial decision reveals what I value on planet earth. If I don’t value God’s kingdom, then my money will not flow towards God’s kingdom. Money is an objective truth teller that reveals what my heart truly treasures.

So what is your money saying about your heart? Are you listening to what your wallet is preaching about you?  How loudly is your money proclaiming to the world that Jesus is what you treasure most?

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

When Work Became Toil

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

From Genesis chapter two to chapter three, work became toil. The beautiful, refreshing cultivation and keeping of the garden that God invites Adam into in chapter two becomes pain, thorns, thistles and sweat in chapter three. Instead of blessing, serving and giving life through order and pruning, Adam’s work became drudgery. Instead of the receiving the satisfaction of a job well done, the garden began to war against his efforts. All of us have felt these effects of the curse in different ways at our jobs. We’ve felt surface level frustration and drudgery; but toil goes much deeper into our hearts’ approach to work:

  • Toil means work will regularly feel meaningless, purposeless, rote and repetitive. (No matter how rewarding it is.)
  • Toil means work will be a place where people will try to find their identity instead of finding it in Jesus. In our culture we frequently define ourselves by what we do in an unhealthy and sinful way called performancism.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find security instead of finding their security in Jesus. Job security is more than good standing with your boss.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find approval instead of finding their approval in Jesus. Bosses and co-workers can become a primary source of adult peer pressure.
  • Toil means work is a place where people will try to find power, a sense of victory, status and success instead of finding power and victory in Jesus’ conquering of sin and death on the cross.
    • This means work I will be frequently disrespected and not valued appropriately as others try to “win” at work.
    • This also means I will be frequently tempted to disrespect and not value others as I try to “win” at work.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to make cheap products and take shortcuts to “win” at the bottom line.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to run their business in unethical ways to “win” at the bottom line.
  • Toil means no matter how hard I work, I will never make enough, accomplish enough or have enough to find true contentment and satisfaction in my job.
  • Toil means work is hard. The more I focus on complaining about how hard my work is, the more I am reveling in the curse and ignoring Jesus’ redemption of all things through His blood.

Jesus is the answer to sin and all of its effects on our work. Jesus restores our relationships with God so that we can find true love, status, purpose and security in Him. Jesus invites us into His mission and opens our hearts to offer loving service to our bosses and co-workers instead of competing with them for power and approval. Jesus restores us to the garden design for work. As we continue to see Jesus’ work done for us in the cross, we get freed up to see our work as a gracious provision from God for His glory and for our joy.

This post was contributed by Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda, or find out more about Midtown's leadership on our leadership page.

We Sing by Midtown Music

We're very proud to release an original song from Midtown Music called "We Sing." To celebrate, you can download the song for free


. Feel free to share it with as many people as you like!


Despite our failures, You have made us new Despite our fear, Your promise is still true We run away, but God, You still pursue You still pursue

Your grace and presence satisfy our souls Your mercy, Lord, alone can make us whole We always change, but God You stay the same You stay the same

Even in the darkest days, Oh God, no You will not delay Forevermore our lips will praise Your name

We sing to You for all the grace You give It’s by Your blood; it’s by the cross we live For You have taken all the pain that we deserve So we lift our hands to You, our hearts to You oh Lord.

We sing Holy, Jesus You're worthy of Honor and praise, we lift up Your name.

10 Money Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

To help you in your biblical understanding of money and possessions, we've outlined 10 money principles (that are more about your heart than your money). Each principle comes complete with scripture references to study.

  1. Jesus gives status, comfort, and security--money does not. Money is fool's gold that utterly fails to meet those deepest needs. (Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matt. 6:25; Luke 12:15)
  2. Nothing I have is truly mine. Everything belongs to God. Everything I possess has been given to me by God for me to manage. When I use God's resources inappropriately, I am embezzling (1 Chron. 29:11-12, 16; Deut. 8:17-18; Psalm 89:11)
  3. My money reveals what my heart loves. My budget is a fool-proof sign for what I value most in life. (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:33-34)
  4. I can’t take it with me. Neither money nor possessions will matter after death--I am just traveling through earth on my way to heaven. (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:13-21)
  5. My budget starts with being rich towards God. That is my first expense, before I determine what else I will do. (Prov. 3:9-10; Neh. 10:35; Matt. 6:33)
  6. Tithing & generosity are natural responses to grace. Though tithing is not a specific New Testament command (other than a reference by Jesus), God's people after Jesus should be more generous than God's people before Jesus. 10% is the minimum generosity level for a New Testament believer (apart from special circumstances). Midtown members commit to supporting God's mission in our church family through tithing. (Psalm 112:5; Mal. 3:8-10; Matt. 23:23; 1 John 3:17)
  7. If I am unable to be generous without going into debt, I need to rearrange my life and budget. Except for seasons of unusual need, generosity should be incorporated into my normal budget (Prov. 11:24; Prov. 21:26; Luke 6:38; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  8. God wants me to enjoy the gifts He gives me. Like a good father, He is pleased when I enjoy His gifts and worship Him as the giver. (Matt. 7:11; Rom 1:21; 1 Tim. 6:17; James 1:17)
  9. It is wise to save for expenses that will come up later. Thinking ahead and saving for purchases is wiser than going into debt for purchases. (Gen. 21:25-27; Prov. 6:6-8; Prov. 13:16; Prov. 21:20; Prov. 22:7; Psalm 37:21)
  10. In Christ I have all the riches I'll ever need. Contentment is what Jesus produces in me--not the desire for more. (Phil. 4:11-13; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:9-11; Matt. 6:25-34; 1 Tim. 6:8)

A Fix-a-Flat for our Broken Finances

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series



On one of the worst days of my life, I made a terrible error by seeking relief at a doc-in-the-box for a nasty ingrown big toenail.  Problem #1: The well-trained doctor didn’t shoot up my toe with enough lidocaine so I could still feel it when he started to surgically remove rip out part of my toe. Problem #2: I had a nauseas reaction to the pain and the extra lidocaine he was shooting into my toe almost causing me to pass out. Problem #3: After listening to a nasty storm rage throughout the entire awful procedure, I walked outside to the parking lot to find out my car had a flat tire. . . which I had to change. . . in the rain. . . standing in a puddle . . . feeling nauseas. . . with half of my big toenail missing.

In America, personal finances are rolling about as smooth as a square wheel.  Our financial tires are flat.  And to many of us, fixing the problems sound as fun as changing a tire while standing in the rain with half your big toenail ripped off.  Graciously, the Bible gives us a balanced wealth of insight to help us proceed. Understanding these biblical principles provides us with multiple spokes to help our tires role smooth.

  1. Give. Most of the teaching in the Bible about money involves glad and sacrificial giving because we are greedy and blind to our own greed. (Matthew 10:42, Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 8-9, 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  2. Earn. The Bible also talks a good bit about ethical and unethical ways to work and earn money. Are you lazy? Do you run a fair business? Are you prone to taking shortcuts or looking for get-rich-quick schemes?  (Proverbs 6:6-11, Proverbs 11:1, Ephesians 4:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  3. Enjoy. God created every good thing on earth and every gift He created is designed for us to enjoy while we turn our hearts toward Him in thanks. It is right and worshipful for some of our money to buy things God has provided for us to enjoy. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, 1 Timothy 6:17, James 1:17)
  4. Manage.  Along with his other gifts, God gives us wisdom to wisely manage His money and to save some up for a rainy day so that we can be a blessing to others.(Genesis 41:34-36, Proverbs 21:20, Proverbs 22:7, Luke 16:10-13)
  5. Multiply.  Because all money is Gods, wise investment and multiplication reflect a heart that understands the purpose of God’s money and wants to grow His money so it can be used effectively for His kingdom and mission.(Ecclesiastes 5:13-15, Ecclesiastes 11:2, Matthew 25:14-30)

If you only understand one or a couple of these, your tires will be perpetually flat, but all together these principles work in tandem to help free us for long lasting sustainable financial health.  Give. Earn. Enjoy. Manage. Multiply.

Being Rich Towards God

The following post is a follow-up from this last Sunday's sermon, "The Longest Term Investment." Listen to the sermon


, and find out more about our Treasure Hunting series



In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus doesn’t call the rich man who bought extra storage units built bigger barns wicked. Jesus calls him a fool. And Jesus diagnoses that his problem is that he wasn’t rich towards God.

Being rich towards God is not a moral act we do. It’s a way of being. It’s an attitude and a posture where our hearts see God, consider what He’s doing in the world, and gladly move our money, possessions and energy in His direction. Being rich towards God is being wise with our money so we aren’t constantly in financial chaos. Being rich towards God is guarding ourselves from the traps of selfishness, greed and materialism. Being rich towards God is generosity with our possessions to help others have their needs met. Being rich towards God is leveraging our money, homes and energy toward mission as we help others take next steps toward Jesus.

In all of these aspects, Jesus is our perfect substitute and example.

None of us is clean when it comes to financial sin. I’m not. You’re not. We are a lot like the rich fool in Luke 12. We are excessively rich toward ourselves. We spend on our needs and wants without hesitation; on both basic necessities and on lavish luxuries. We are greedy. We take and accumulate for ourselves with little concern for other’s needs. We consistently fall into the trap that money and possessions can deliver the good life to us, and so we constantly hunger for more. But in the cross, Jesus became our greed. He became our selfishness. He became our materialism and our money idolatry in the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus paid our financial sin debt so that we could be free from the punishment we deserve for our stinginess.

Jesus succeeded in every way the rich man (and we) failed.

Rather than store up all of His wealth for Himself, Jesus gave it away. Rather than be rich towards Himself, Jesus was incredibly rich toward God. In all of history, He is the single richest-toward-God human being who has ever lived. Jesus never failed to see God or consider what God’s doing in the world. In His every waking moment, Jesus turned His life in the direction of God’s mission. He sacrificed His health, His riches in heaven, His material comfort, His high status, His power and position and He literally gave Himself up for us.

By Jesus’ richness toward God, we are saved. By His richness toward God, we are forgiven. By His richness toward God, we are washed clean. By His richness toward God, we are healed. By His richness toward God, we are set free. By His singular act of generosity in the cross, we are credited with His perfect generosity. By His poverty, we have been made spiritually rich. (2 Cor. 8:9)

And now in Jesus, we can become rich toward God like He is. We can live sacrificial and generous lives like He did. We can grow to become God’s kids who look like He does.

Jesus, help us to be wise and generous as we give more of our riches away. Amen.

Instagram Quote #1 TH
Instagram Quote #1 TH

Treasure Hunting by the Numbers

Statistically speaking, America is in a world of financial hurt. We mentioned some of these statistics on Sunday (you can listen here), but we wanted to summarize the stats and give you a numerical picture of how bad the situation really is:

  • Average American credit card debt = $7,073
  • Ignoring people with no credit card debt, the average increases to = $15,162
  • In total, American consumers owe: $846.2 billion in credit card debt.
  • In total, American consumers owe: $11.25 trillion in all types of debt.
  • This includes credit cards, mortgages, student loans, etc (source).
  • In total, as of June 3, 2012 the US outstanding national debt is $16.75 trillion (source).
  • Total personal and public debt in American is: $28 trillion.
  • Storage unit revenues for 2011 in America were $22.45 billion (source).
  • America is $28 trillion in debt and we own so much stuff that we spend an extra $22.45 billion for additional storage space over and above what our homes can handle.
  • “Financial issues are the primary reason for 90% of divorce cases I handle,” - John Thyden, prominent Washington, D.C., divorce attorney (source).
  • A study by the American Psychological Association in 2004 found that 73% of Americans listed money as the single largest cause of stress in their lives (source).

Fortunately, we are not left alone to deal with our stress. Financial wisdom is not neglected by the Bible, nor is it even a small Biblical topic.

  • Money is mentioned 2 times more than Heaven and Hell combined.
  • Money is mentioned 3 times more than love.
  • Money is mentioned 7 times more than prayer.
  • Money is mentioned in 17 of Jesus’ 38 parables.
  • 15% of Jesus’ recorded words are related to money.
  • 2,350 verses in the bible mention Money.

So let’s go treasure hunting. There is too much at stake, and Jesus has too much wisdom, freedom and life to give for us to ignore Him in our finances.

Sources: U.S. National Debt Clock, Natural Wellness, Good Housekeeping, National Christian Foundation of Indiana

Summer Reading

Reading is a great way to take advantage of some free time during the summer and a great way to grow in your understanding of the gospel. We wanted to take an opportunity to suggest some books for you to read this summer, depending on where you are within our church family.

Books for LifeGroup participants

A LifeGroup participant is involved with a LifeGroup but has not taken the Midtown Class. If you're a LifeGroup participant, we suggest the following books:

Prodigal God by Timothy Keller Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller Death by Love by Mark Driscoll

Books for LifeGroup members

A LifeGroup member is committed to a LifeGroup and has taken the Midtown Class. If you're a LifeGroup member, we suggest the following books:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn Community by Brad House

Books for LifeGroup leaders

A LifeGroup leader has gone through the leader training process and is responsible for the spiritual health and discipleship of the members and participants in his or her group. If you're a LifeGroup leader, we suggest the following books:

Redemption by Mike Wilkerson Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian Missional Small Groups by M. Scott Boren

Books for LifeGroup coaches

A LifeGroup coach has gone through the coach training process and is responsible for the spiritual health and development of their designated LifeGroup leaders, and overseeing the health of the LifeGroups led by those leaders. If you're a LifeGroup coach, we suggest the following books:

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick Total Church by Tim Chester Doctrine by Mark Driscoll When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey Good to Great by Jim Collins

Books for pastors

We realize the majority of you aren't pastors, but in case you desire to be a pastor or are curious as to what kind of books we recommend for pastors, here they are:

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Danny Campbell A Praying Life by Paul Miller The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler Switch by Chip & Dan Heath Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath