Key Quotes About Being the Church from HGTV Star Brandon Hatmaker

brandonhatmakerHGTV star Brandon Hatmaker brought the heat today at Catalyst in Atlanta, Georgia today, bringing a lot of truth that many churches may not want to hear or acknowledge. As a former missionary, I’m thankful that Brandon had the opportunity to remind church leaders that we are called to step outside the 4 walls of the church.

Here’s a few quotes from Brandon:

  • “We were so busy on our church campus that we didn’t know our neighbor.”
  • “Stepping out from the pews & out into the streets is what we need to be doing.”
  • “Church is what it does.”
  • “If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, why not commit structurally to serve in the community?”
  • “People are not a project or an agenda.”

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By | 2016-10-06T09:29:01+00:00 October 6th, 2016|Ministry|0 Comments

The End.

What do you do at the end? When you read the last book of the Great American Novel, how to do you respond? When you hit the click the “submit” button at the end of a long application, how do you celebrate? When you finally arrive at home after a long roadtrip, what do you do? When your time at a place is drawing to a close, when the words “the end” to a 10-week journey are in the not-so-distant future, what do you do?

For the past 8 1/2 weeks, I’ve been interning at a youth ministry in Memphis. With only a week and a half left of my internship, I’m forced to reckon with “the end” of dozens of relationships – for better or for worse. The truth is, I was terrified to come to Memphis – a city I had never been to with people I had never met – but now, I am even more overwhelmed with the thought of leaving behind Memphis and all of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know along the way.

When you go into ministry, you will read all sorts of books about how to form relationships and “do ministry.” What you won’t be prepared for, however, is the ending of all that. As a staff, we’ve been reading through Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp. It’s an excellent book that has helped me tremendously through ministry, but what it hasn’t help with is how to “end ministry.” Seriously, how do you bring relationships with students to a close after you’ve gotten to know them so well? How do you say goodbye (or even just “see you soon”) to your fellow coworkers who have meant the world to you?

Perhaps we don’t actually have to end relationships at the end of ministry. Perhaps there is an alternative. Perhaps relationships don’t have to end. Perhaps they only go on hiatus, even if it is for an extended time. Because the truth is that while our relationships may end, in some sense of the word, on this side of Heaven, we will be reunited with those people and our relationships restored on the other side, in Eternity.

Relationships may exist only for a season and may end, but that is only for a season. One day, everything Good – relationships included – will be restored in the Kingdom.

And so while this feels like the end, perhaps it is only just the beginning.

By | 2015-07-22T10:28:10+00:00 July 22nd, 2015|Ministry|0 Comments

Shattered – Porn & Poverty

As a filmmaker, I love watching documentaries – especially ones about topics that I’m not exposed to every single day. Yesterday, I watched a documentary that followed the lives of a few girls who did amateur pornography. For so many of the girls, they used their “career” in amateur pornography as an escape for the realities of life. Though part of me wants to be angry at them for selling themselves and throwing away their bodies, a much larger part of me – my heart – shatters for them. They seek love, security, and safety in all the wrong places. They want to be known deeply and loved deeply… yet they aren’t. They don’t see how broken they are. And God’s heart breaks for them, because He so desperately wants to rescue them from their brokenness.

Then earlier today, I watched a documentary about 4 guys who spent their summer living in Central America on one dollar a day. It was a very real way for them to show how millions of people live on less than one dollar per day and the hardships they encounter because of that poverty. Having spent some time in Central America, my heart shattered again and again for these people who live on the fringes, barely surviving.

God’s heart breaks for these people. He sees broken, teenage girls selling themselves for money, for the hope of being famous and “being known.” His heart breaks for the people who are barely surviving, who live on the fringes, who are unnoticed by most. He sees them, and his heart breaks.

But the truth is that it’s not just those who do porn that are broken.

It’s not just those who survive on one dollar per day that are broken.

All of us are broken. All of us need healing.

Even here in East Memphis, in the wealthiest part of the city, we are broken. And God weeps for us.

By | 2015-06-21T14:19:13+00:00 June 21st, 2015|Ministry|0 Comments

Why I Can't Die

I should be dead right now. I don’t say that lightly either. Between falling off cliffs, almost getting struck by lightening dozens of times, rafting adventures, an assault, hanging out with drug dealers and gang members, car wrecks, and an assortment of other episdoes, there is no real reason why I should be alive and in one piece (which I am).

Before I went rafting with my youth ministry for the first time, I joked that I can’t die. Even if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I say that it’s because God is saving me for something more. God, being rich in mercy, has already shown me what I’m to do with my life. He’s shown me my life as a foreign missionary in Uganda and much of what that will entail. If I have yet to accomplish that, then I know He, in His sovereign Grace, will keep me alive until that is accomplished.

However, there is something much bigger at play. The Truth of the matter is that I have already died. I have already died to myself and been raised up in Christ. I have said “no” to myself and all my selfish, sinful ways and said “yes” to Christ and His Saving Grace. In Christ, I cannot die. He has already died for me, and that is enough.

Yes, one day, hopefully dozens of years from now, my earthly body as it is here on this planet will stop living. But what awaits on that other side of that humanly death is life eternal, and nobody can take that away from me. I cannot die because I am destined to Live eternally in Heaven – where there is no more death, sorrow, or pain – with Christ, My Savior and My God.

And that, my friends, is why I cannot die.

By | 2015-05-31T13:30:00+00:00 May 31st, 2015|Ministry|0 Comments

A New Life, A Far Journey

On Saturday, I said goodbye to over 60 new college graduates who had been some of the most amazing friends I had ever had. They were off – to Florida, to North Carolina, to Ireland, to Rwanda – to start new lives for themselves. While I have not yet graduated, I too started a new chapter.

On Saturday, I packed up everything I owned into my tiny Toyota Camry and drove 4 hours to a place farther West than I have ever travelled.

Memphis.

Stop, laughing. I’m serious. I’ve been to Chicago and Nicaragua, yet the farthest I’ve ever been is still Memphis, Tennessee.

What am I doing here? I’am the new summer intern for the senior high youth ministry at Independent Presbyterian Church. Sunday was our first day as interns, and it was, to say the least, what I trust will be the beginning of an exciting journey as an IPC intern.

Sunday afternoon, after church, the interns, myself included, travelled even further west – to a lake house in Arkansaw for our intern retreat.

And now that intern retreat is over, the adventure truly begins.

By | 2015-05-21T17:41:41+00:00 May 21st, 2015|Ministry|0 Comments

I should be dead right now & why I'm still alive

I almost died once. Actually, I’ve almost died, been killed, and/or seriously injured multiple times. I was in a village in Nicaragua when a flash flood came out of nowhere. The road that separated us from the bus was more like a ravine than an actual road. Eager not to be stuck overnight, I, along with 30 other missionaries, sprinted almost a mile through the flooded road. In some places, the water was as shallow as my calves, but in other places, it went up to my waist. This would have been no big deal except lightning flashed all around us. It hit at least three trees within 25 feet of us. I was blinding by the white sparks in front of my eyes as lightning struck right before me. Even our missions director who was there with us that day said someone should have been either seriously injured or killed. Yet we all survived with no harm done to us.

A little over a year ago, I fell off a 20-foot boulder and got a concussion. A week later, I fell down a flight of stairs and received another concussion. Two concussions in less than two weeks? I should have had some sort of brain damage, but I didn’t. It was a miracle.

Last summer, I worked on the streets of Birmingham, serving the homeless by myself. I visited camps in the middle of the woods and under bridges. Too many times, I could have been taken advantage of. It never happened once. I laid on broken glass under a bridge while filming an interview, yet I didn’t get cut. I was swarmed by mosquitos while visiting a homeless encampment in a woodland area by the tracks but was never bitten. An abusive husband stood in front of the church at Five Points, yelling at his wife. He was a drunk, and he was likely going to try to hit her again. Seeing what was happening, I put myself between the two. He could’ve hit me, but he never did.

A few weeks ago, I was alone when I had a knife pulled on me. After I managed to coax the boy into putting the first knife down, I grabbed it and threw it behind me, far out of reach from either of us. Rather than that being the end of it, he reached behind him and pulled out a bigger knife. It was only by the Grace of God that I finally convinced him to put that knife down.

Over the past few weeks, I can’t help but see just how much God protects every single one of us, how often He divinely intervenes into each crazy circumstance we are in. Many of these experiences I’ve gone through have been terrifying. Seriously, having a boy who is as big as you point a knife at you is horrifying and will give you PTSD. But through all of this, I have become more convinced of God’s character as our Protector. Will bad things happen to us? Sure. In that Nicaraguan flash flood, my iPod became a waterPod. When I got that concussion, I had a terrible headache and had to miss a few days of class. When I had that knife pulled on me at work, I had to quit my job and lost a lot of money as a result of it. But look at what could have happened. Time and time again, I could have died.

But I didn’t.

God didn’t let it happen for He is Sovereign.

He is my Protector.

He is Our Protector.

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Like what I write? Follow me on Twitter: @alyhathcock or even better, hire me to write for you.

By | 2015-05-01T20:26:28+00:00 May 1st, 2015|Lifestyle, Ministry|0 Comments

Church Intern Apps #Purgatory

I’m 21 and love Jesus. If only that was enough. The application is only 2 pages long. They ask for my all my contact information and a little about my church background. Simple. That is, until you get to the second page. Free-response. Then, it’s like going through Purgatory.

Define the gospel. You want me to do what? The gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t just something you can define. It’s so much bigger and more beautiful than a dictionary definition. When Christ alters your life, fills your life with unending hope and eternal joy, and gives you life eternal, you don’t just write a sentence about it or even a paragraph! You write a whole library about it, because it’s something so beautiful, so divine, something so incredibly wonderful, and Grace isn’t something I can do to myself. I was, and still am, totally reliant upon His Grace every single nanosecond of my existence.

Church history? Please no. Grace for today. Hurt by the youth of my first church, rejected by the youth pastor of my second church. Grace overcame all, and I was called into youth ministry, despite my church history. 

Why do you want to be an intern? I think we’d be here until Christmas if I sat here and listed all the reasons. I want to to be able to share Jesus with dozens of youth who desperately need to know that He cares for them individually, I want to be able to pour Truth into youth who have believed the lies the world has told them about who they are and what they’re worth. I want to be a living example of the agape love and Grace of Jesus Christ, and I want youth to know that they are never alone. On a practical level, I want to see how the gears of the Church turn. I want to know the ins and the outs of all ministries so I can better serve the Kingdom. 

Strengths? Weaknesses? I don’t just want to list them for you. I want to tell you how God has used both my strengths and my weaknesses for His Glory, even when people said that God couldn’t possibly use me, even when I believed my weaknesses were greater than my strengths.

Ministry involvement? We might be here all day. Youth Leadership Council. Amigos for Christ. Global Christian Fellowship. RUF. Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. 

What did you do last summer? I sat beside the homeless. All day. Every day. I shared life with them, broke bread with them, cried with them, loved with them. I heard stories that broke my heart and brought me to my knees. I saw redemption manifested, and Provision provided. I learned to love without caring what people thought, trusting God to use me and work through me no matter what.

Anything else you want to say? I have flown in planes that should not have made it off the runway, swam with stingrays almost twice my size, climbed volcanoes when incredibly ill, and almost (and should have) died 3+ times within the span of 15 minutes while in Nicaragua. I have seen the Grace of God manifested in my life. I have seen the Provision of God manifested through the feeding of the 5,000 – but in real life, not just as a Bible story. I have experienced His Mercy and Healing after being hurt by not just one church but two. I have felt the Love of God through relationships with friends and through His Son. And now, all I want to do is share the reason for all of that – Jesus – with the next generation and the rest of the world.

It’s hard to just write a paragraph when I want to write a whole book. (Oh wait, I am)! So to all of those who are reading my ministry internship applications, know that there’s so much more to me than just the answers to those questions. Know that I want to love your youth and your church until there is nothing left, and then through the overwhelming Grace of God, I’ll love and pour out some more.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in having me intern for you, please contact me me at alyhathcock1 [at] gmail.com. I would love to serve you and your church.

To everyone else, follow me on Twitter: @alyhathcock

PS: I don’t actually believe in Purgatory.

By | 2015-01-22T07:45:00+00:00 January 22nd, 2015|Ministry|0 Comments

This is no ordinary pew-sitting Sunday.

It’s Sunday, and I’m not sitting in a pew. Part of me feels incredibly unholy for sleeping in and not going to a different building for church. As I write this, however, I am livestreaming my church’s service – which is taking place 200+ miles away.

Our service opens with singing and music. It’s awesome – if you’re there, in person. If you’re watching all of this take place on a screen, it’s a little weird. Am I supposed to sing along? I mean, the words are on the screen. Oh, one of the worship leaders just lifted her hands. Should I lift mine? Normally, yes. But here? In my bedroom? I feel like an idiot…

Now it’s time to “greet those around you.” This is awkward. I’m alone, apart from some stuffed animals. My parents are in the living room. Should I get up and go say “hi” to them, even though I’ve talked to them multiple times already this morning?

Wait, meet-and-greet is over. We’re singing again.

Woah, the camera changed angles. How’d it do that? I’ve never seen any camera in the sanctuary before except maybe a couple DSLRs and iPhones when the children lead worship. The Christmas trees are still up. I thought Christmas was over? Eh, I supposed in church, Christmas never really ends…

The mission pastor just called up some of the people who are going to India on a mission trip. WAIT! My friend is going!??!? I missed that bulletin. My friend is secretly waving at someone… but I don’t think she’s waving at me. Shhhh… we’re praying.

They’re passing the “welcome registry”(aka, attendance pad). Can somebody please sign my name?

Awww, baptism! Our missions pastor is baptizing his grandson. SO. CUTE.

The camera angle changed again. How’d it do that?!?!?!?

Glitch. The pastor was just talking about tithing and now people are singing and halfway through the song. What happened? Ohhhh, maybe this is the offertory song.

The associate pastor is preaching. On Nahum. Jon Acuff was right when he said that the regular preaching pastor would not be preaching the Sunday after Christmas. That’s okay. This guy is pretty epic too.

Grrr, the livestream keeps buffering. Struggles. Okay, it’s better now.

I missed the Scripture reference. Dang it. Pause while I go read all of Nahum to figure out where we are… Oh, it’s Nahum 1. Gotcha.

[I’m not going to post all my sermon notes. You can look here and watch the sermon yourself].

Sermon highlights:

  • God is personally focused on what is best for us.
  • God’s grace protects His people.
  • How is God’s grace protecting you now?

Altar call. Closing Prayer. Benediction. Amen.

He keeps you from stumbling
Presents you faultless
Before His Presence
With exceeding great joy

To the Wise God, Our Savior
Be all dominion and glory
Majesty and power
Forevermore
Forevermore, Amen.

By | 2014-12-28T12:03:48+00:00 December 28th, 2014|Media, Ministry|0 Comments

Post-Christmas Realities

During the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, churches, school group, cub scouts, and other good-will wishers flock to nursing homes and homeless shelters, hoping to bring some joy and happiness to the not-so-fortunate. The old are happy. The homeless have food in their bellies and a new overcoat and pair of socks. The local food pantry is overflowing with food.

Life is beautiful.

Then New Years comes.

January…February…March.

By March, all the food donated to the local food pantry has been passed out. The shelves are barren.

The homeless go hungry, as do the children of the single mother who works three jobs. The old folks in nursing homes? They are bored and haven’t had a single visitor in weeks.

The thanks of Thanksgiving and the loving and charitable spirits we adopt during the Christmas season have disappeared completely.

With the new year right around the corner, let’s not forget to keep loving and giving thanks to one another throughout the entirety of the new year. Let us not forget to serve on another with the love of Christ.

By | 2014-12-26T13:19:39+00:00 December 26th, 2014|Ministry|0 Comments

Darkness in Advent

400 years of silence. A people, His People, subject to Roman rule. Hope of salvation seemed so far away.

The People of God waited in the darkness.

During the season of Advent, we often get caught up in the coming of Christ. He is on the way. While this part is incredibly exciting, we forget that this was a dark and difficult time for His People. There was pain, hurt, feelings of abandonment. The people had not heard from God in 400 years.  Life was very much not good. Darkness surrounded the People of God.

They waited, trusting and hoping.

They prayed, never ceasing.

Where was this savior the prophets had foretold?

This past week, in Birmingham, a boy was the victim of an attempted kidnapping. Four girls were out running on a trail when they were robbed at gunpoint. Last night, I woke up to an Amber Alert. A girl was kidnapped from her home by her father. In the news this morning, a family’s home was broken into and Christmas presents were stolen.

We still wait on the return of our Savior.

We wait for Christ and His Presence to show up in our lives, community, and world.

This Advent season, wait in anticipation, trusting Christ to show Himself in the most beautiful of ways. Hope is just around the corner.

By | 2014-12-21T11:07:41+00:00 December 21st, 2014|Ministry|0 Comments