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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

What On Earth Are You Here For?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Community

I get emails all the time from people asking questions ranging from how to do this, or take a look at this, to what do you think about this? And I LOVE getting those emails! Nothing brings me greater joy than to serve you guys.

So if you do have any questions, never hesitate to fire off an email. You can always reach me at josh [at] thejoshcollins [dot] com.

Purpose, Passion, Calling And Why You're Missing It

Inevitably what these questions usually boil down to are questions relating to identity and purpose.

I can’t think of two greater issues the church faces today, than identity and purpose. Even looking at the recent incident with Justin Beiber speaks to these larger issues of identity and purpose.

Last year I was given Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. It has recently gone through a facelift, expanded and retitled “What On Earth Am I Here For?

With over 12 million copies sold worldwide, it’s hard to quantify the impact and reach this message has. Because of its success, just about every major news outlet has called it the most influential nonfiction book of our generation.

The thing I love the most about this book is all the additional resources like video links, audio links and study guides you have access to online. Rick and his team have gone above and beyond to provide you with the absolute very best experience possible on your journey to answering the question of what are you are here for.

Not to give too much away, but Rick begins the book by laying the groundwork of understanding purpose by speaking to identity. This is where most communicators fail in their messaging.

The book is then divided and outlined into 5 main purposes:

Purpose #1: You were planned for God’s pleasure. This is all about understanding the greatest purpose of your life. Nothing can settle your wandering soul like knowing how much pleasure God take by your creation.

Purpose #2: You were formed for God’s family. Continuing to build on identity, knowing to whom you belong securely attaches you to the created order of things.

Purpose #3: You were created to become like Christ. This is aim of the christian life. Discipling and creating mature christians is the mission of the church. Nothing makes sense outside the understanding of this purpose.

Purpose #4: You were shaped for serving God. There is no doubt our culture’s message of “me first”, “do what I want to do when I want to do it” contradicts this purpose. It’s the focus of much of the self-help garbage prevalent in our society today. But there can be no greater example of this than the life of Christ.

Purpose #5: You were made for a mission. This is the bullseye. This is the target and direction of your life. Understanding your purpose, finding your calling, and bridling your passion can never be discovered without the foundation of the previous four purposes. The created order speaks to this. There is a flow and when you attempt to supplant that flow, you’ll be disappointed every time.

If you’re sitting there struggling with issues of identity and purpose, wondering why on earth am I here, what on earth have I been created to do, let me encourage you. You’re not alone. There is hope. Don’t struggle alone. I urge to purchase a copy for yourself. It will change your life.

You may read this and already be in a secure place of identity, purpose, and calling. That’s awesome! But the truth is, someone who you know isn’t and is most likely struggling. Purchase a copy to give to them, encouraging them they are not alone.

But because I love this book so much, and because I think it’s probably the toughest issue you’re facing, I’d love to give away a copy.

Leave a comment below telling why you’d like to go through this 40 day journey and fill out this form to be entered to win!

Posted on: January 24, 2014

4 Things The Gospel Teaches Us About Social Media

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community

Since 2013 I’ve seen a growth of just over 2000% on Twitter alone. On other social media channels I’ve experienced similar results as well. Having seen these results, I could probably easily jump in the murky waters of digital marketers, attempting to sell you on a 5 step process to achieve the same results.

But as much as this post is about social media, it’s really more about the gospel than social media.

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

(By the way, I have no clue what this photo has to do with social media. All I know is it’s awesome and my boys are currently obsessed with Lego Star Wars, so there you go.)

The other day my friend Stephen and I had this little exchange on Twitter:

This little idea got me thinking about Twitter and the people I follow. You see, I maintain a private list of just over 130 people that I follow. I don’t publish this list, but I allow these people to influence me in some way shape or form. While many of them I often do agree with, there is easily about 1/3 of them I don’t.

Tim Keller speaks to this when he says:

“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”

Several times over the course of this past year I’ve intentionally withdrawn from social media seeking a better perspective. Because it’s my first calling to experience the gospel for myself, before attempting to lead others in doing the same, I’ve used that distance to develop a healthier gospel perspective about social media.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Everyone says they are an expert. I’m sure you’ve heard others mention this, but I tend to see this more as everyone wants to be a somebody, wants to be perceived as important, special, significant in some way. It’s what drives the “look at me” frenzy, endless self promoting, platform building culture we have now settled into. The gospel cures this (Matt. 16:25, Matt 20:16). John Piper beautifully communicates a better perspective when he says:

“We weren’t meant to be somebody–we were meant to know Somebody”

2. It’s not about connection as much as people say. Simply put, if this were true, then we’d be the most connected people group of all people groups in the history of people groups. And while we certainly are more connected than ever, rather have more access than ever, paradoxically it’s true we are also a more disconnected culture.

Jon Acuff presents the healthiest perspective here. Social Media is really more about collecting ideas, sharing those ideas, and spreading those ideas. The very best interactions I have on Twitter or Facebook or any other platform have always left me encouraged, and inspired. Not to mention, I’d still rather have an exchange over a warm beverage than an exchange of 140 characters.

3. Social Media creates an unhealthy attachment to identity. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to over the past several years have admitted to struggling with this issue. Because in many ways, social media provides instant gratification, propping up and inflating a false sense of self, it’s easy to allow your identity to be informed by things like number of followers and retweets.

“Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’ We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious. ” ― Tim Keller

I’ve learned two things by gaining some distance:

    • I’m just fine without social media. The world keeps on spinning without any complications.
    • I’m confident what I won’t hear when I die are the words, “You didn’t have enough Twitter followers.”

4. The impact of Social Media can never be truly quantified. There are those out there with far more experience than I when speaking to this but as a father, my thoughts turn my family and my kids. Just the other day I had a conversation with Molly, my soon to be 9 yr old, about why she cannot have a Facebook account. I couldn’t believe she brought that up! Teaching them a new decorum for how to communicate and be responsible online is a challenge I never expected.

A line has been crossed for sure, we’ve reached a point of no return. Because of digital accountability, careers are now threatened. I have a feeling that for generations to come, we’ll be dealing with the ramifications of our actions online today.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” — John Piper

Experiencing the gospel creates a new filter by which you view the world. Suddenly things that used to matter, appropriately no longer have Kingdom value. And because of this re-prioritization, I’ve found that new freedom, new joy, new mercies, new grace, and new life can be discovered.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I love interacting and encouraging folks that I meet online. But the pseudo relationships built there will never, nor can they ever, replace your core need for true authentic community.

What does the gospel teach you about social media? What would you add to this list above?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted on: January 22, 2014

What The Church Needs To Learn About Awesome Experiences

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Experience

Here’s what a typical conversation sounds like when I meet someone for the first time and they find out what I do for a living.

Person: “So what exactly is it that you do?”

Me: “Well, I’m a Communicator and an Experience Architect.”

Person: “So what exactly is it that you do?”

Me: (Insert friendly laugh) “Basically, for the last 15 years I’ve been traveling all over the world working with churches, entertainers, speakers, and all sorts of other live entertainment, creating awesome experiences.”

Person: “OH, WOW! That sounds so exciting.”

Me: “Thanks, I consider myself extremely blessed.”

Person: “So like, who have you worked for? Anyone famous?”

Me: (Responds with a kind laugh and smile) “Sure, I’ve worked with (drops a name like Snoop drops a mic) and (someone else for good measure) and tons of other people.”

From here it just gets weird, but I think you get the point.

Now all that may come off like I think I’m a big deal or something like that, but trust me, I’m not. I’m the farthest thing from it. To be honest with you, I’m a guy with more burned bridges and failures in my past than most.

But I am a man who’s experienced the gospel firsthand, and has no hope but to rely on it daily if not minute by minute. In addition to that, it’s my passion to create opportunities to lead others in experiencing this great gospel for themselves. And I gain no more joy than doing that inside the church.

What The Church Needs To Learn About Awesome Experiences

Photo Credit: whittmedia via Compfight cc

Except there is only one problem these days. Rarely is the church interested in creating awesome experiences.

Of course there are some exceptions, I’ve worked with them and actually been on staff at one of them as well, but for the most part, churches in America are telling a story that says they really aren’t interested in creating better experiences. They have created a narrative that says mediocrity is ok, somehow having disconnected from the pleasure God receives from the excellence we bring (worship).

If you don’t buy into that or believe that, you’re being a little naive, just look at some simple statistics.

You do know a “National Back to Church Sunday” has been created, right? Why would such a thing need to exist if not to address a larger issue? But I digress.

Obviously this subject is too big to completely cover in a single post, but I do want to shine a light on 3 of the biggest things the church needs to learn here.

1. The church misunderstands what worship truly is. I believe the one thing the church would agree on, would be that worship is much more than any weekend gathering. But this is obviously the case because the church continues to create weekend environments based solely on tradition, using language that doesn’t fit with what the bible describes as authentic worship.

“God’s heart is not touched by tradition in worship, but by passion and commitment.” – Rick Warren

I’m not saying tradition is bad, not at all, many times tradition is what leads us to create sacred spaces where by we can experience the gospel. But when tradition becomes more important and is the vehicle that silences input from the body, then clearly we miss the point.

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29:13 

2. Experiences are what shape our reality, and create lasting impact in our lives. Having been created in the image of our Creator, our brains are wired to process life through our felt experiences. Neuroplasticity explains how our brains make connections, storing and recalling memories through our experiences.

“We need to experience God rather than fill in the blanks about God.” – Chris McAlister

Relevant Magazine recently did a story on Louie Giglio and Passion. If you’re not familiar with the Passion movement, you’re missing out on something that has dramatically shaped the church’s culture over the last 17 years. Passion has a very strong reputation for always producing some of the most excellent, awesome experiences the modern church has ever witnessed. In the article, they specifically talk about Passion ’99 as still to this day being one of the best and most talked about events. I happened to be there, and can tell you firsthand, that I’ve never been the same since that experience.

“I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.” Genesis 30:27

3. Emotions aren’t everything but they are more than nothing. Many times the spiritually elite relegate emotion as being something to shove aside, but the beauty of our emotions and how we experience them is often times the primer for how the Father is drawing us and wooing us unto Him. By pressing in to these divinely created emotions, we can find comfort and healing through our felt experiences.

“Our problem…..is that we do not realize that there is no genuine worship where feelings for God are not quickened. There is not true worship where the heart is far from God. But the heart’s approach to God happens in the quickening of our feelings for God. Therefore, where feelings are dead, so is worship.” – John Piper

This of course doesn’t give license to manipulate emotion in a vain attempt to provoke the Spirit, but rather by coming alongside it when creating atmospheres of sacred space, the church can come to know more of who God is.

“Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children — this was his pleasure and purpose.” Ephesians 1:5

Regardless of what flavor (denomination) church you attend or cling to, there’s no doubt we could all agree that if the studies and surveys prove anything to be true, then the church needs to take a long hard look at how it’s gathering are created and executed.

I firmly believe that if you’re not actively looking at how to create better experiences in your church, then you’re missing out on fulfilling the mission of the church.

Have you ever had a bad experience attending church or visiting a church?

Share in the comments below!

By the way, if you’re interested in talking more about this and want to work with me to create a better experience for your church or event, shoot me an email at josh [at] thejoshcollins [dot] com.

Posted on: January 15, 2014

The One Thing God Wants To Tell You.

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Experience

I was talking to my friend Bart last year backstage at an event. He was about to go on stage and we were talking about the first time we met. It had occurred to me the weekend before that nearly 20 years had passed since that weekend in Colorado.

I’ll never forget that trip, because it’s one of my first memories of experiencing the gospel. It was the first time I can remember actually hearing the voice of God.

The One Thing God Wants To Tell You

Photo Credit: wili_hybrid via Compfight cc

I think if we’re honest with one another, most of us would admit that we’ve never heard the voice of God.

Oh sure, we’ve heard and read magnificent stories about encounters with God, but most of us, if we were to be completely vulnerable with one another, would probably say, we’ve never had a powerful experience with our heavenly Father.

In fact, most of us get a bit uncomfortable when someone speaks in terms of hearing from God.

I know I do. I’m skeptical whenever I hear someone from a stage or behind a pulpit publicly refer to hearing the voice of God.For me that’s mostly because of some wounds from my past, but nevertheless I think most of us are more skeptical than anything else at that sort of thing.

What I remember most about that experience isn’t anything BIG, LOUD, or EPIC per se, but rather the peace and the stillness. It was the comfort of hearing exactly what I needed to hear. It was the indescribable but recognizable voice of a Father. I wish I could tell you there was some burning bush type moment or that some beam of light pierced the ceiling, blinding everyone but me, but I can’t. It was more like that still small voice, that gentle whisper, we read so much about in scripture, and upon hearing it, I began to weep. I couldn’t control the flood of tears as my heart was pierced.

I remind myself of what I heard every time I feel lost and alone. When I’m going through a season where God feels silent, and joy escapes my every turn, I just close my eyes and remember hearing those words again.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Those words are printed red in my Bible meaning they were spoken by Jesus himself. They were his very words. They carry a tremendous weight.

That night I listened as Bart led us to ask and to seek. “What is it God wants to say to you tonight?” “Just ask him,” he said.

And what I heard has marked my life ever since.

“You’re my friend.”

Recently I asked a bunch of people on Twitter and Facebook about things they wanted to hear from God. And I wasn’t shocked or surprised the least bit by the responses I received. People said things like:

  • I love you
  • I am with you
  • You’re not alone
  • Yes

We all want to hear these things. We all travel by the same sign posts and watering holes in our stories. We all desire to be loved, known, accepted and seen. We want to be recognized and valued. We want to experience the truth of that verse above.

There  is one thing that God wants to say to you today and all you need to do is simply ask. Many times asking is the hardest part. It requires a little faith, a little risk on your part. You may not always get what you want, but that’s never really the point anyways.

Will you risk a little today?

What is it that you would like to hear God say to you?

What do you need right now?

Feel free to share in the comments below!


Posted on: January 13, 2014

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Franklin, TN
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