Thanks Billy for not disappointing us


I joyfully mourn the loss of Billy Graham upon his death today.  As I grew up in the Christian faith, I often heard, “Who is going to be the next Billy Graham?”   Well, there will not be another Billy Graham. That does not mean Graham is set apart as better than the rest of us.  Like Elijah, Graham “was a human being as we are (James 5:17).”

There will not be another Billy Graham because of the dramatic changes in our American culture (future blog to come).  Graham was known as America’s pastor, but America does not want to be pastored anymore.  I studied Graham’s life pretty extensively, and like me, he was not perfect.  Still, Graham knew how to handle earthly power over multiple decades in a way that honored God and lifted the reputation of Christianity.  (The above picture is of Graham and friends on White House lawn in 1950 – he was close to power at such a young age). We are all so grateful this prominent star maintained his morality.

He was committed to evangelism, and turned down lucrative offers in entertainment to stay focused on the ministry.  I particularly admire Graham’s outspoken opposition to nuclear weapons.  In 1979, he spoke against nuclear proliferation at a time when Christians in America almost blindly supported the build up of these weapons.

In Christianity, we are always looking for the next hero, and we are usually disappointed by them somewhere along the way.  Thanks Billy Graham for not disappointing us.

August – A time for church growth

20161107-singleportrait-dark-60God is doing a tremendous work at CIL right now!  We are witnessing higher participation, a deeper passion for worship, a hunger for Scripture, service to our community, and a culture of love.  Together, we are being Jesus!  We are the body of Christ!

August is traditionally a month of harvest for our church.  Many visitors discover CIL during June and July, and when the rest of the congregation returns from vacation season, we usually have an electric atmosphere.  With this probability in mind, here are a few things I am asking you to do:

Invite.  It’s a great season to bring friends to CIL.

–  Pray.  Let’s ask God for a season of momentum to help our church be everything God intends us to be.

–  Be friendly.  Your hospitality creates the culture of love the church needs.

–  Volunteer.  The nursery, elementary services, cleaning team and welcome team are some areas current and new volunteers can make a kingdom impact!  If you are interested in joining one of those teams, let me know and I will connect you to those leaders.

–  Give.  The summer months has the highest expenses and the lowest contributions.  As we anticipated, we have some catching up to do from this incredible summer of ministry.  We plant in early summer, and harvest in August. Your tithe and generosity will help us remain strong financially.  You can always give financially online through the church’s website.  God uses your giving to build His kingdom.  Here is the online giving link –

I am so excited about the future of CIL.  I have been the pastor here for 9.5 years now, and I feel like things are just now starting!  The best is right before us!

I love serving Jesus with you!

Aaron Name

The Global Leadership Summit coming to Hendersonville

TGLS2015Logo02The Global Leadership Summit is one of the highlights of my year. This event is fuel to my leadership passion tank.  The various presenters come from both the church and corporate world, which brings a powerful blending of wisdom. The conference will occur August 6-7, 2015 (Thursday and Friday). Though the event originates from Chicago, it will occur literally around the globe through simulcast technology.

For the first time, TGLS is coming to Hendersonville!  The event will be simulcast at GodWhy Church, which gives more people at CIL a chance to attend.  As a sponsoring church, CIL constituents pay only $99 (instead of $199) when registering by June 21.  There is a special code to to get this discount.  To obtain the CIL code, e-mail me, contact the church office or pick up the code at The Communication Center the next time you attend CIL.

If you have the code, register here.

For me, these are the most important two day of the year for leadership development, so I truly hope you join me for this transformational experience.

Here is the speaker line-up:

2015 Speaker Lineup

Hey church, it’s not 1992

book_seeker_sensitiveIn the early 1990’s I attended a seeker church for the first time, and loved it! This church was reaching my friends, impacting our city, and presenting the message of Jesus in a fresh way. As a high school student who had grown up in church, this seeker church invigorated my faith and passion for Jesus. In those days, “seeker church” was not a dirty word.

Then, pastors discovered the seeker church movement in the 2000s, and it has been a downhill slide for the American evangelical church ever since. Instead of transformational art in church that attracts non-Christians, duplication has produced a bad imitation of culture on Sunday morning platforms. In my opinion, a lot of the cultural imitation churches now practice actually repels more non-believers than attracts them.

More disturbing than the bad programming is that Christians now expect church to be entertaining. The intent behind the seeker church movement was not to entertain Christians, but to engage non-Christians who found church irrelevant. Some churches still do the seeker-model well, but most do not.

Looking beyond what is happening inside the church, culture has changed so much in America over the last 25 years, that seeker churches are no longer relevant to Millennials and many Gen Xers (some Baby Boomers still enjoy hearing Journey cover songs in church). I believe the seeker-model was generally effective from 1975 when Willow Creek was launched until the September 11th era began. We fundamentally changed as a people after 9/11.

Superficial entertainment still has its place in our culture, but not in the church. When considering church, believers and non-believers both want sacred space each week to find meaning for their life. Relevancy is over. People are not looking for a relevant message, but a transformational message. I thank God for the impact the seeker church had on my life, but it is no longer 1992.

The Church Needs Youth Ministry

I am at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta with our youth pastor, Matt Malone. It is great to see the vitality of this conference is the same as when I came as a youth pastor. Mark Matlock leads the 44 year-old organization called Youth Specialties that puts this conference on, so he does a lot of thinking about youth ministry. In recent years it has become popular to bash youth ministry, criticizing its effectiveness and even its Biblical mandate to exist. Mark gives some language that helps those of us who love and believe in youth ministry explain its importance.

I have summarized his five points:

Youth ministry is necesary because . . .

1. Youth Ministry assimilates a new generation into an intergenerational community.
2. Youth Ministry helps the church stay relevant.
3. Most people become Christians before they are the age of 18.
4. Unlike most entities, teenagers can fully participate in the church as teenagers.
5. Teenagers keep the church authentic, with fresh eyes to see Jesus’ way.

In August, I slipped into a youth service at CIL, and I was touched to see dozens of our students kneeling in prayer for persecuted Christians at the front of the church.  This picture is why I love youth ministry.

Youth Praying - 2014 - August


You can access the Matlock’s blog post, and more of his thoughts on these five points by clicking here.

Here is Matlock’s same five points in the words he has chosen:

1. Youth ministry is vital to helping teens integrate into the larger intergenerational community of the church.
2. Youth ministry resists the status quo, helping a church stay relevant in a changing culture.
3. Youth ministry focuses on inviting those who are not already part of the church into the deeper narrative of God’s plan for humankind.
4. Youth ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church, restoring life on earth as it is in heaven.
5. Youth ministry helps the church focus on the way of Jesus, which goes beyond tradition, dogma, and ritual.

A Relational Life Is Costly

Our deepest desire is for a relational lifestyle. Our lifestyle does not leave room for relationships. This is the dilemma of life in the suburbs in the twenty-first century.

A life shared with meaningful conversation, and a sense of being known for who we really are, takes time. The relational life takes time. In our culture, time is money. It also takes time to develop and maintain a career, and the more productive you are, generally the more affluent you become. Taking time for relationships will cost you money (in the short-term). You will become less productive, which means you will make less money, and you will lose opportunity for advancement in your work.

LWN SelfieYet, once we pay the price for authentic relationships, the pay off is invaluable. The relationships we obtain are priceless. In addition, the benefits of authentic relationships are not just the intangibles. Long-term relationships are the doorways to the blessings of God. God moves through relationships. Almost every answer to prayer and kingdom opportunity that has come to me has occurred because of a relationship developed. I believe the phrase, “Our relationships today, are the answers to our prayers tomorrow.” So pay the price for authentic relationships because it will be the best investment of your time for tangible and intangible benefits.

Each month I meet with two groups of pastors (here is a recent “selfie” of one of those groups). These relationships are not based off of an agenda, an event or an obligation.  We simply meet to laugh, encourage and talk. Some months it seems very inconvenient, and almost unproductive.  Yet, the commitment to these fellow pastors as my personal small groups has contributed to my emotional health, my professional sustainability, and my overall happiness.  These men have made me a better husband, father, and pastor. Relationships matter!

Are you thinking or reacting?

Angry Woman

Facebook LogoReact, instead of think. I’ve been guilty of it as much as anyone. Social media gives us a wider audience to spread the unfiltered thoughts that we use to only say in the privacy of our home.

We would all be wise to think critically before posting our opinion on social media, or spewing it out in a social engagement.

Many times I work out thoughts verbally with my wife, family, and closest friends.  These unguarded conversations help me “talk through” my emotions. That process helps me refine my perspective, and sometimes causes me to change my mind on an issue.

In contracts to this close group, in a public forum I want my opinions to be filtered, seasoned and effective.


As Christians, I believe critical thinking includes:

– Knowledge of the Bible.

– Experience.

– Ability to listen to another opinion with an open mind (civility).

– Basic understanding of theology and history.

– Cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.

An understanding of current events. As we regularly follow current events, we will be able to frame the significance of those events properly in light of all the characteristics I have mentioned above.

The more we think critically on a consistent basis, the times we do react will be more effective and honor Christ.

So, keep thinking!